Socialists to take key decision on support for PP government on Sunday

The party’s federal committee will debate whether to force a third general election or to stand aside

The PSOE group in Congress on Tuesday.
The PSOE group in Congress on Tuesday.ULY MARTÍN

The 290 members of the embattled Spanish Socialist Party’s (PSOE) federal committee will meet on Sunday to agree their official position at an upcoming investiture vote in Congress at which acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the Popular Party (PP) will make a final bid to form a government and avoid a third general election in a year, which would take place in late December.

PSOE sources say that the committee will overwhelmingly support abstention at the vote in Congress

Although unanimity is not expected, PSOE sources say that the federal committee, made up of delegates from Spain’s regions, will overwhelmingly support an abstention at the vote in Congress, which would allow Rajoy to form a minority government.

On Monday, King Felipe VI will begin new talks with the parties to determine whether a government can be formed before the deadline of October 31.

The issue of whether to effectively support Rajoy through an abstention has torn the PSOE apart, with party leader Pedro Sánchez, who voted against Rajoy in September’s investiture vote, insisting that the grassroots of the PSOE is against giving the PP a second term in office. After half of the party’s executive committee resigned in protest at his handling of the issue in late September, Sánchez stepped down on October 3, since when the PSOE has been run by a management team of moderates who support abstaining at the investiture vote and avoiding a third election that polls say would see the Socialists’ support further eroded.

Pedro Sánchez announces his resignation as secretary general of the PSOE.
Pedro Sánchez announces his resignation as secretary general of the PSOE.Fernando Villar (EFE)

Broadly speaking, the Andalusian branch of the party, the largest, supports abstention. The Catalan and Basque Socialists, numerically smaller, insist on a no vote in Congress.

“The choice is simple: either abstain or go to the polls. This is about the lesser of two evils. Neither choice is good. Abstaining does not mean supporting [the PP]. Abstention is only possible when there is no alternative,” said on Monday Juan Cornejo, the secretary of the Andalusia branch of the party’s organization.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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