Sánchez exploits the unity of the PSOE in a congress marked by the festive atmosphere

“This seems almost more like a party than a Congress,” acknowledged a socialist high command early in the morning upon arriving at the Valencia Fair, where the Socialists celebrate their 40th Congress this weekend. The dozens of official cars with the ministers and regional presidents who have starred around Pedro Sánchez in the first photo of the conclave had not yet arrived. As they have been arriving, it has become the most repeated comment among the attendees gathered around the fast food stalls to liven up the wait with a beer and where there will be concerts this afternoon and Saturday.

Sánchez and Ábalos: reunion in Valencia

Sánchez and Ábalos: reunion in Valencia

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Ministers, regional presidents and barons have displayed kisses and hugs in what is the great reunion of the socialists after a year and a half of pandemic. “What a difference from four years ago!” Commented a territorial baron. “This compared to other congresses is a party,” acknowledged the Government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, in a group with journalists. Since 2008 the Socialists have not held a peace congress and the last one was especially painful for the party after the traumatic abstention to allow the Government of Mariano Rajoy.

“This spring of recovery, of rebirth, is what this conclave wants to envision. It is a congress of colors, a congress of unity and a forward-looking view ”, said, in his capacity as host, the Valencian president, Ximo Puig, in the presentation. Four years ago he did not even participate as a delegate in the congress that was held in Madrid and on this occasion he will also preside over the conclave.

The festive atmosphere has enlivened the wait for Sánchez, who has arrived at the edge of 2:00 pm and whom they have received with applause. He greeted the ministers and territorial leaders who were waiting for him for the first photo of the meeting. They have embraced Emiliano García-Page and Javier Lambán, who are the most distant presidents of Ferraz, but with whom a new stage has also begun. “It is the congress of unity and the vindication of social democracy,” he told him in a brief informal conversation with journalists upon his arrival. Sánchez is aware that he has to strengthen the party to face the 2023 electoral cycle.

The appointment of the Federal Policy Council – which is the body that brings together the socialist leadership and the barons, and to which the members of the Executive have joined – was the excuse for that first snapshot on the eve of the congress formally begins. That body will be chaired from now on by the Andalusian leader, Juan Espadas, who considers that the Andalusian federation thus regains a weight that it has not had in recent years with Susana Díaz, who intends to attend this time as a guest.

The mayor of Seville will replace the Extremaduran president, Guillermo Fernández Vara, who will maintain his post as head of regional policy. For it to be incorporated, the PSOE will have to modify its statutes, because they prevent the presence of territorial general secretaries in the federal executive. What is not ruled out for now is that there is a minister in the direction. Names will be known throughout the weekend, but the man everyone is looking at is Félix Bolaños, Minister of the Presidency and new strong man for the Executive.

The intention of Espadas is that the Federal Policy Council now work to reach a consensus within the PSOE on a fixed position on the autonomous financing system, which is a battle that makes indistinct alliances between socialist and conservative presidents. It will be one of the issues that will come out in the commissions in which the presentation will be debated and that will serve to update the socialist ideology.

Short-circuit contentious debates

Ferraz wants to avoid as much noise as possible in those debates. In fact, the leadership held a meeting on Thursday with the secretaries of territorial organization to address the most controversial issues and avoid cracks during the weekend, mainly in matters of equality, depopulation or financing, according to sources present at the meeting. The intention is to “propose agreement proposals” on all possible issues.

One of those that the leadership will have to compromise, as is tradition in socialist congressional processes, is the amendment that proposes a debate on the State model and that Ferraz will short-circuit. “It is a historical debate, always in each congress, but in each congress, always, always, the party comes out defending the Constitution that brought freedom to our country,” Adriana Lastra has warned.

On this occasion, the management will have to fight because there are amendments that demand greater transparency from the Royal House and even a commission of inquiry on the king emeritus. Just 24 hours before the appointment, Sánchez himself raised his tone with respect to the former head of state, recognizing that he would have to give explanations about his scandals. “In my opinion, yes. It would be convenient for King Juan Carlos to say, indeed, what is his opinion on all these facts that are disturbing information, “he declared in a interview in La Sexta.

An important feminist sector of the party has also been stirred up, which has made clear in the amendments the rejection of trans law, as well as gender self-determination – although there are amendments in the opposite direction. The management’s intention, likewise, is to “deepen” the abolitionist position of prostitution. “Abolishing prostitution is not only putting an article into a law but also providing resources for victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking,” concluded Lastra.


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