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Pedro Sánchez back in business: 'historic' voter turnout sees former PSOE leader return to the hotseat
By thinkSPAIN Team Mon, May 22, 2017
MEMBERS and paid-up subscribers of the PSOE (socialist) party have voted Pedro Sánchez back in as their leader – 10 months after he resigned from the same post.
Sánchez's time at the chalkface of the PSOE has been a rollercoaster of highs and lows – coming second in the December 2015 general elections, he then strove to form a coalition with left-wing Podemos and centre-right Ciudadanos and was nominated by King Felipe VI to form a government when right-wing PP leader Mariano Rajoy said he did not feel he had sufficient support.
Shot down at the final hurdle by Podemos, who refused to work with Ciudadanos, Sánchez came within inches of becoming president of Spain, but missed.
Then, after a second inconclusive general election in June 2016, Sánchez refused to back Rajoy in the in-house vote, which led to numerous high-ranking party members turning against him.
In July last year, sticking to his guns over his refusal to vote for Rajoy, Sánchez resigned as leader in order to become 'just another subscriber'.
From almost-president of Spain to 'just another PSOE subscriber', Sánchez's riches-to-rags tale has taken a new turn after he beat rivals Susana Díaz and Patxi López in yesterday's (Sunday's) primaries.
Díaz scored a clear victory with 63% of the votes in the southern region of Andalucía, where she is president, as did López in the Basque Country where he used to be president, or lehendakari.
Said to be one of the most historic voting days in the party's history, a total of 80.35% of the PSOE's 188,000 affiliates cast their ballots, and 50.2% did so in favour of Sánchez.
Susana Díaz won just under 40% of the votes, largely due to Andalucía being one of Spain's biggest regions in terms of population and land mass, whilst López, who is lesser-known outside of the Basque Country, barely took 10%.
In terms of ballot paper numbers, Sánchez won 74,223 votes, Díaz 59,041 and López 14,571.
Since 2011, the PSOE has continually and consistently lost support and Parliamentary seats, despite having gone through several leaders – Spanish president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero lost the general elections in November that year when a landslide victory went to the PP and Mariano Rajoy; his successor in the PSOE, Alfredo Pérez-Rubalcaba, resigned after the party's poor performance in the European Parliamentary elections in May 2014, and Sánchez was elected that summer, only to resign two years later and for the party to be left in the hands of a 'management committee'.
Each successive general election has seen the PSOE lose more and more seats, but this is partly due to its no longer being the PP's only rival.
Historically, the PP and PSOE have 'taken it in turns' to run the country and its 17 regions since the dawn of democracy in 1977, but since the European Parliamentary elections in 2014, Ciudadanos has gone from being a purely Catalunya-based outfit to the fourth-largest political force in the country, and Podemos sprung up literally from nowhere to become the third-largest party as well as gaining five MEP seats.
Sánchez is seen as more of a left-wing leader than Díaz, who appears to lean far more to the right, as do her supporters at the sharp end, including Eduardo Madina and José Carlos Díez.
The latter two have been coordinating the socialists' economic and political model, or its formal approach to governing, and which will be voted on in a full PSOE congress meeting over June 17 and 18.
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