Thursday, December 2

Sánchez appeals to socialist roots to inaugurate a new stage


There was a time when Pedro Sánchez himself felt like an “intruder”, an “outsider” in the PSOE. The patricians of the party, those who overthrew him in 2016 after the second electoral debacle, felt him with a foreign body in front of the one who offered the “one hundred percent PSOE”, Susana Díaz. He held his pulse, she lost that fratricidal contest. The wounds bled for years. But, definitely, the war was buried in this 40th Federal Congress, which this Sunday closed at the Fira de València. A “resounding, unity” conclave, as defined by the president and secretary general himself at the closing ceremony. An absolutely unanimous reading. Just that word, “unity”, serves to sum up the greatest act of this weekend. Everything else mattered less. From the composition of a broader executive than the leader himself wanted, the review of the project or a closing speech allegedly made without major announcements.

Sánchez arrived at that “one hundred percent PSOE” that his rival invoked in the middle of the internal war. The president, three years after his arrival at Moncloa, seven after his landing in Ferraz (with the parenthesis of the manager), with the blow of the Madrid 4-M elections well present and the possibility that the polls of a victory for PP and Vox, it has been reversed. He has brought out a new version of himself. One more time. With the remodeling of his Cabinet in July and this 40th Congress, he rounds the circle, escapes the sanchismo with which he beat Díaz in 2017. He asphyxiated him and this Sunday he certified his death before the 9,500 militants and supporters who roared in the Fira pavilion and that vibrated with the celebration of the unit and the tribute to the legacy and the history of the party. The president intervened for almost an hour after receiving an overwhelming endorsement of his new, renewed and feminine leadership: 94.94%.

Sánchez appealed to historical socialism, declared himself a continuation of the work of Felipe González and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the son of a past full of conquests and social advances. He cited and praised both former presidents tirelessly, as did Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, to whom the closing ceremony dedicated a heartfelt tribute starring his widow, Pilar Goya. “The PSOE is a united, open, plural, democratic party that debates freely – indirect response to a González who had asked him to stimulate internal discussion. Here we are represented by several generations of socialists from Spain and abroad, who in These five decades we have been embodying continuity. Each of us has had to do both tasks. Both Felipe, José Luis and I: continue the work done and open new paths that advance in the same direction as our founding fathers: equality and social justice “.

This is also what this 40th Congress was about, opening a new stage and putting the lights on towards the 2023 electoral cycle. Sánchez not only considers internal differences to be overcome. He also feels liberated from the breath of United We Can, therefore without complexes to show off pride. “And 142 years later we are where we always were, with the same name and with the same ideals. Because it is here, from the social democracy, from where the lives of the people, the world, are changed.”

“I sure have made mistakes”

It is the project that was proposed as an obligation to save when in 2014 he took over Ferraz, when to the left and right the project was considered “liquidated”, that it would undergo pasokization, that there would be a surprise on the part of Podemos. “In these six years I have surely made mistakes,” he said, in an unusual gesture of contrition, “but looking around I feel that we have all achieved the essentials together, and that is that the project of progress and social justice called social democracy “. And this one “enjoys an iron health”.

Sánchez raised the flag of a social democracy that has taken oxygen in the last electoral processes in the world, when years ago the situation was reversed. In front of it, it does not have “any strong ideas” and it does have the certain “risk”, also in Spain, that the extreme right will take power away from democratic institutions. A current that, he believes, permeates the “traditional right”, the PP, which is “self-conscious, confused and disoriented” and which exercises more of “opposition to the system, not to the Government.” Again, the thread with the past: the furious criticisms that González and Zapatero received, those that he receives. “But if there is a party that loves Spain, that is the PSOE,” he proclaimed, also defending the banner of dialogue within the law as a solution for Catalonia. The president promised to put an end to the PP labor reform, the gag law and to move towards the abolition of prostitution. The PSOE is already officially named, after the statutes were fine-tuned, as an ecologist and green party.

Sánchez, as observed by different leaders, comes out of the 40th Congress strengthened, reconnects with the culture of the party, with historical socialism. Because now “he needs the party to win.” To face the next electoral cycle. “You have achieved the synthesis, you have put the puzzle of all those previous congresses without leaving out any piece,” said the president of the conclave, the Valencian Ximo Puig. “You have made this the congress of unity, fraternity and cohesion “.

A changed leader

That good vibes were breathed in the three days in which the conclave lasted. There was no hint of tension throbbing. Nor in the hours before the executive’s delivery. Sánchez, after having lunch on Saturday with the former and the ministers, wanted to meet again with the barons, with whom he had already spoken in the previous weeks and days. I wanted to finish adjusting the address with them. The bulk had already been decided several days before the conclave, but the final adjustment was completed on Saturday. The regional secretaries met with the president, and also with numbers two and three, Adriana Lastra and Santos Cerdán.

The chief executive determined, also in “the last two days”, that he wanted some of his ministers to be at his side at the top. Above all, he raised the head of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, his man for everything, entrusting him with the area of ​​Constitutional Reform and New Rights, a portfolio connected with his ministry. Sánchez’s claim is to strengthen the Government-Ferraz ties, although also for the executive to be operational, and for this reason it is more than likely that some members of the hard core will have to leave their position in the Cabinet.

In this congress in which the socialists have been able to meet again after overcoming the worst of the covid, many leaders and ministers reviewed the psychological evolution of the leader: a more “empathic” secretary general, even “more affectionate”, “impeccable”. The dispatches with the barons passed in a good atmosphere, according to some of them.

At the conclusion of the conclave, the circle of the leader breathed calmly, relieved. Everything had gone well. Without setbacks or surprises. It was inevitable that he planned the shadow of José Luis Ábalos, applauded this Sunday upon his arrival at the plenary session, in which he sat next to his direct predecessors, César Luena and Óscar López, current head of Sánchez’s Cabinet. Ábalos will be part of the federal committee, the highest management body, like Carmen Calvo, who upon her departure from the Executive adds her departure from the top and the abandonment of the Equality Secretariat, which now falls on the young Leonese deputy (28 years old ) Andrea Fernández. The new leadership does not have the expected political power but, in return, it is more plural than the previous one and reconciles the leader with his barons. The core of Sánchez’s confidence, however, will continue to be formed by Lastra and Cerdán, as well as Bolaños and López.

They all agree, even those who fiercely criticized the Madrilenian in his day: the PSOE has never experienced such a catharsis. Not in the good old days of Zapatero or González. But the anxiety will return if the ballot boxes are adverse. Although now they look far away and with still room for reaction. The objective set seemed accomplished: to exhibit unity, indisputable and without impostures. Sealed with the symbolic hug of Sánchez with the two former presidents and with a final party rally to inject energy for the new and uncertain stage.


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