Madrid has always exercised a powerful power of attraction over the federal leadership of the PSOE. And even more so when the passing of the years did not change a terrible situation, with the socialists outside the governments of the Community and the capital. Few institutions confer the status – and the power – of governing Madrid, which the PSOE lost in 1995, or the City Council, in 1989. Pedro Sánchez is the last president of the socialist government who has not resisted leaving his stamp on the region . And that happened to snatch from the PP at least one of two of the main institutions in the country. Two thorns that, seven years after being elected leader of the PSOE for the first time, Sánchez has nailed.
The 4-M electoral disaster, the day the PSOE hit bottom in Madrid with 24 seats and 610,000 votes – 13 deputies and 275,000 fewer ballots than in 2019 – has reaffirmed Sánchez in his plans to build a winning project in the third community most populated and economic locomotive of the country. The president affirmed in the federal executive of the PSOE on Thursday, according to those attending the meeting, that he was not going to ignore the future of the Socialist Party of Madrid (PSM).
Sánchez also stated that everything that happens in the federation to which he belongs falls within his responsibilities as general secretary. The sources consulted interpreted it as a defense of his involvement in Ángel Gabilondo’s campaign. Sánchez renewed the list and La Moncloa assumed the strategy. The scant criticism that there was of the campaign and of Gabilondo’s unattached opposition to the administration of Isabel Díaz Ayuso were severely contested by Sánchez.
There were also those who demanded in the executive that the future project for Madrid comes from the community’s own socialist militants. That is, without interference from Ferraz. A request that in the case of the PSM is not at all clear since it is the cradle of both Sánchez and some of the main leaders of La Moncloa.
The composition of the manager who will lead the PSM until the autumn congress, after the resignation of José Manuel Franco as general secretary, has further strained the atmosphere. Those related to Franco are satisfied while the dissatisfied believe that he is a continuist, has little organic weight and does not represent the main asset of the federation, its municipal muscle, since it only has the presence of the mayor of Leganés, Santiago Llorente.
Isaura Leal will preside over the management company, the second to open in Madrid since Sánchez commands Ferraz: the previous one was in February 2015, when Tomás Gómez was dismissed as a result of the investigations opened for the extra cost of the works of the Parla tram, where he was mayor between 1999 and 2008. Justice shelved the investigations last August.
The president of the management company is a member of the federal management and of Sánchez’s total confidence. Leal was already the person chosen to preside over the manager in the Huelva group in November.
The active intervention of Sánchez in the design of the campaign is the last chapter of the serial in which the different presidents of the Socialist Government have intervened in the Madrid federation. Especially in the last two decades. To the attention given from La Moncloa and from Ferraz we must add the uniqueness of the PSOE of Madrid. The lack of institutional power, except in the large cities of the industrial south, has been replaced by a very intense organic life – here the only current recognized as such emerged: the Socialist Left – in which the families that hold some power condition the secretaries general.
The complexity of a federation accustomed to defeat and that usually draws up electoral lists prioritizing organic criteria encouraged Rodríguez Zapatero and Sánchez to put the spoon in the most ungovernable federation of the PSOE. They both failed. Two examples: Trinidad Jiménez, Zapatero’s choice to preside over Madrid in 2011, lost the primaries against Gómez (51.8%). With the PSOE on the crest of the wave after winning the generals for the first time since 2008 and the regional elections in Madrid, Pepu Hernández, Sánchez’s bet in the capital, reaped the worst result of the Socialists in 2019.
Zapatero and his two unsuccessful bets
A federation under control in the 21st century. Madrid’s socialists have hardly been able to make decisions about their future in the different electoral appointments that have taken place since 2003. The general secretaries of the PSOE chose to impose their criteria to decide which candidates headed their lists, without thinking about whether the political trajectory of the elected was linked to the Community of Madrid or not.
Zapatero enters the capital. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero imposed his candidate in 2003 to try to end 14 years of PP hegemony in the capital of Spain. Before being president of the Government, his main bet was Trinidad Jiménez as a candidate for mayor of Madrid. He lost by a lot. The popular candidate, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, obtained 51.3% of the votes and 250,000 more votes than the socialist candidate, who remained at 36.68%. In the Community of Madrid, the PP lost for the first time the absolute majority against the left-wing bloc, but the socialist candidate, Rafael Simancas, could not be invested due to the betrayal of two defected deputies, Eduardo Tamayo and María Teresa Sáez, who had been included in the lists with the endorsement of the national leadership.
The president’s friend, new candidate. After the failure of Trinidad Jiménez, the already president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero once again imposed his own candidate in the municipal elections of 2007. He chose Miguel Sebastián, his friend and who would later become minister, to compete with Ruiz-Gallardón. The result was even worse. Sebastián was left with 30.9% of the votes and almost 400,000 votes for the PP candidate, who achieved 55.65%.
Sánchez crashes in the region and in the capital
The dismissal of Madrid leader Tomás Gómez. Pedro Sánchez acceded on July 14, 2014 to the general secretary of the PSOE after winning the primaries. His first exam at the head of the PSOE were the regional and municipal elections that were held in May 2015. Just three months before that key appointment for his expectations, Pedro Sánchez decided that Tomás Gómez, then secretary general of the PSOE in Madrid, should not be again candidate for the regional presidency. The polls predicted a bad and insufficient result, according to the national leadership of the PSOE. And, furthermore, some ongoing judicial investigations (which a few years later came to nothing) advised against keeping Gómez at the head of the party in Madrid.
Gabilondo’s option. With the socialist candidate for president dismissed – who had already tried in the 2011 elections with a terrible result – Pedro Sánchez elected Ángel Gabilondo, former Minister of Education in the Zapatero government, to head the regional list. Their results weren’t much better: 25.43%. And, although by then the right wing was fragmented, the PSOE did not manage to regain the Government of the Community of Madrid. Gabilondo added one more deputy than Gómez (37), but he stayed one seat in the presidency because IU did not achieve representation in the Assembly.
The surprise of Pepu Hernández. Pedro Sánchez continued to impose his criteria in the following Madrid elections. When 2019 arrived, he decided to maintain his commitment to Gabilondo for the Community of Madrid (27.31% of the votes, the winning candidacy even though it did not serve to govern). And, in the capital, Sánchez pulled off a strange candidate on the political scene: Pepu Hernández, former national basketball coach and world champion in 2006. The bet turned out to be a colossal failure. The PSOE reaped in those municipal elections the worst result in its history in the capital (13.5% of the votes) and could not even help the alternative left for Manuela Carmena to continue as mayor of Madrid. The PP, supported by Citizens from within the municipal government and by Vox from outside, added an absolute majority in the plenary session to take over the mayor’s office.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.