New Candidate Reignites Interest in Spanish Primaries

Susana Diaz, the popular Andalusian leader of the Spanish Socialists (PSOE), announced her bid for the party’s candidacy in the forthcoming general election on March 26. This could make current Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy particularly nervous as his minority government, the PP, remains plagued with difficulties in governing from a shaky coalition. At an event with more than 6,000 party activists and important figures such as previous prime ministers Felipe Gonzalez and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Diaz shared her desire to run for the nomination of her party. Immediately, Diaz explained that she “has a passion for winning,” and will use this desire to lead the party to victory.

This, perhaps, represents a lofty goal as the socialist PSOE fared poorly in both the regional and general elections of 2015 and 2016, ultimately losing to the current governing party. On the other side of the political aisle, the PSOE also must contend with the charismatic left-wing party, Podemos, which has hollowed out a section of their base.

Despite these challenges, Diaz continues to be confident, and many see her as a moderate candidate within the socialist party. Her opponent, Pedro Sanchez, has attacked Rajoy, saying, “With me as Secretary General, we will not have to worry about socialist votes going to right wing policies.” Following these statements, some have worried that his policies may be too oppositional for coalition-building, and thus, much support has shifted to Sanchez.

Even given this fact and with sturdy support in Catalonia and Andalusia, Diaz’s nomination to party secretary is far from certain. She will face strong opposition from both Paxti Lopez and Pedro Sanchez, due to their similarly strong regional bases.

Overall, this primary will certainly determine the direction of the PSOE for the foreseeable future. With the party struggling to reestablish its base, many see new hope in a strong moderate like Diaz.