Restoring the unity of the Socialists

The PSOE needs to bring an end to the current crisis and its internal conflicts

The media congregates outside the Socialist Party HQ in Madrid.
The media congregates outside the Socialist Party HQ in Madrid.Claudio Álvarez

The refusal of Socialist Party (PSOE) chief Pedro Sánchez to accept the fact that the resignation of 17 members of his executive committee constitutes the dissolution of said body, has sparked a serious crisis within the group and raised tensions way beyond an acceptable level.

The refusal, combined with the pretension of the members of the committee that remain to continue as if nothing has happened, is in stark contrast to the evidence that the PSOE needs a to convene a proper congress if it is to solve its organizational problems and clarify its ideas.

In the meantime, the priority should be to put the problems of Spain ahead of those of the party.

The Socialists need to reestablish their unity with the lowest cost possible to the country and to itself. Obviously, this is not helped in the slightest by the division of its grassroots members into different factions, as, unfortunately, Pedro Sánchez has managed to do this week. As Andalusia’s Socialist premier, Susana Díaz, said yesterday, the priority should be to restore internal unity, and rebuild their political projects in the face of opposition from the right-wing and the challenge posed by new groups such as Podemos.

The crisis that has broken out in the PSOE this week is not just that of any old party. What is currently happening in the second-biggest group in Spain affects the entire country and its future. More false steps and not only will they have lost the favor of many voters (they are already down six million compared to 2008), but also none of the sides will be able to reconfigure the group for the future.

If the celebration of a third general election within a year could worsen the crisis of confidence among Spanish citizens and the system of political representation, there is no doubt that the result of that undesirable call to the polls would be hugely dramatic for a shattered PSOE.

As such, it is not just the question of who will be the next prime minister under discussion. The PSOE is obliged to do everything it can to avoid third elections, which will be disastrous for the country and the party.

Sánchez’s strategy, and his reductionist approach of “with Rajoy or against Rajoy,” is inexorably leading us toward those third elections.

For the governability of Spain, there is no alternative but to allow the most-voted party – i.e. the PP – to form a government, and to try to rebuild from the opposition a Socialist Party that can win back the trust of wide sectors of the electorate.

As if the spectacle of a party in crisis was not serious enough, getting lawyers, sworn security guards and (perhaps) judges involved would be the final straw. To continue fighting over the legal ins and outs of what the party’s statutes say will take it to the edge of the abyss. The grassroots party members and the Socialist voters, as well as this country, need a united PSOE that is able to offer an alternative to the PP as soon as possible.

English version by Simon Hunter.