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Socialist leader throws in the towel after poor showing at European elections

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba calls extraordinary party meeting in July to choose new leadership

Opposition leader Alfredo Rubalcaba during Monday’s press conference.
Opposition leader Alfredo Rubalcaba during Monday’s press conference. Javier Lizon (EFE)

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba and his team have decided to throw in the towel. In the wake of the Socialist Party’s (PSOE) poor showing at Sunday’s European elections, the leader of the main opposition group in Spain’s Congress has called an extraordinary party meeting for July 19 and 20. The order of the day will be choosing a new general secretary, given Rubalcaba’s decision to bow out.

“The meeting will serve for us to choose new leadership for the party,” he told the press on Monday. “I am assuming my responsibility for the results.”

Rubalcaba described Sunday’s election results – which saw the PSOE take just 14 seats, with 23.03 percent of the vote – as “bad, with no palliatives.” The Popular Party (PP), which is currently in power in Spain, took 16 seats (26.04 percent) at a poll that saw the two main parties secure their worst results in democratic history.

“I want to congratulate those behind our election campaign, because it has been a good campaign,” Rubalcaba told the press, in reference to the PSOE’s candidate Elena Valenciano. “It is obvious that we have not managed to recover the confidence of the people.”

Rubalcaba went on to describe the decision to choose a new leader as “an exercise in political responsibility, one that must be carried out immediately. [...] We have to assume the political responsibilities.”

The opposition leader went on to explain that he would remain in the role of general secretary of the party “until the decision is taken as to who will replace me.” But he would not be drawn on his personal future: “We’ll have plenty of time to talk about that,” he said.

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba suffered a crushing defeat at Spain’s last general election in November 2011, when his party lost to the PP after nearly eight years in power. He took over as general secretary of the party in 2012.

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