Monday, December 11

The barons of the PSOE are put on alert by 19-J, inflation and “the messes” of the Government

The PSOE candidate for the elections in Andalusia, Juan Espadas, supported this Sunday by the presidents of the autonomous communities of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres Pérez; from Asturias, Adrián Barbón Rodríguez; Aragon, Francisco Javier Lambán; La Rioja, Concha Andreu; Balearic Islands, Francina Armengol; Extremadura, Guillermo Fernández Vara and from Valencia, Ximo Puig. / EFE/Rafa Alcaide

In key territories they lack a strategy to stop Vox in rural areas and firmness against the partners of Podemos

Paula de las Heras

There are no good expectations for the PSOE in Andalusia and a halo of concern already runs through a good part of the socialist federations. The fear that the result predicted by the polls is a warning that they should put their own beards to soak is, in reality, relative. In the territories it is assumed that the difficulties that the Andalusian socialists are going through have their own characteristics and are not generalizable, but they are also aware that the elections on Sunday will mark “the mood” at the beginning of a new electoral cycle. And they will also do so in an unfavorable context, with a central government worn out by inflation and, different party cadres underline, by “the messes” in the coalition.

The alarms have begun to sound, but, at least for now, they remain at moderate levels. The situation is far from reaching the degree of anxiety experienced by the PSOE on the eve of the regional and municipal elections of 2011, when the barons ended up forcing José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero to resign from re-election in the hope that his departure would revitalize some acronyms charred by the management of the financial crisis. The way in which Brussels has decided to deal with the shock caused by the pandemic has provided in the last two years a cushion that the socialists did not have then, when under the pressure of the markets and the EU itself there were, among other things, that freeze pensions and cut the salary of civil servants. However, and in a hidden way, demands can be sensed towards the federal leadership.

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Rumors about a new government reshuffle like the one in July last year have been recurring for weeks, although both members of the Executive and the socialist leadership doubt that the measure could serve to gain momentum as long as inflation, which mercilessly gobbles up each of the firewalls that Pedro Sánchez has tried to erect – from the bonus of 20 cents per liter of fuel to the limit on the price of gas – do not relax. From key territories such as Castilla La Mancha, Aragón or even Extremadura, however, it also points in another direction: the relationship with Podemos.

Neither the internal climate is, in any case, as harmful as during the financial crisis, nor are the socialists now up for riots

The level of emphaticity with which it is argued that Sánchez should begin to act more firmly against his partners varies from case to case. But there is a common denominator in the conviction that brawls like the one that the first, second and third vice presidents –Nadia Calviño, Yolanda Díaz and Teresa Ribera– staged this Thursday on account of the tax on the elécticas that United We Can want to include in the decree extension of the anti-crisis plan only contribute to deepen the feeling of exhaustion.

Absence of analysis

Until now, the executive chaired by Sánchez has not talked about what to do after 19-J. “We will have to wait to know the result,” argue several of its members. Beyond this specific issue, however, different cadres express their concern about what they perceive as a lack of rigorous analysis by the federal leadership on “core issues” such as what the strategy should be against Vox or why the party is being unable to capitalize on the fall in votes for Podemos.

Nobody has, at this point, any doubt that stirring up fear of the extreme right is an inane exercise. “It only worked for us in April 2019,” admits a leader. However, the PSOE has not been able to design another response to stop the growth of a formation that is becoming strong in its old rural fiefdoms, constituencies that will be essential to resist in the next general elections. «In the last ones, we were the first in 90% of the small provinces; now they enter with force and that can easily unbalance the balance, ”they warn from one of the territories affected by the phenomenon.

The policy of pacts

The PSOE is not, in any case, for revolts. The memory of the fratricidal battle of 2016 and 2017 and the party model that was established afterward leave little room for it and there is not, at this time, a unanimous diagnosis among the barons about what to do. Some believe that the links with Bildu and ERC continue to take a heavy toll and that it would be necessary to take advantage of the remainder of the legislature to seek more transversal pacts, lose the fear of agreeing with the PP on state affairs and even weigh an abstention in Andalusia within a global agreement that guarantees that tomorrow the attitude will be reciprocal.

An agreement of this nature, some sources argue, would convey a message of stability and centrality. It would also be reassuring in places where the socialists already know that they will only govern if they have an absolute majority, such as Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura, precisely because only three parties will enter Parliament and the third will this time be Vox. “But this -reduces a territorial leader- is a personal opinion”.

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