Wednesday, October 27

Sánchez and Ábalos: reunion in Valencia

Everything ready in Ferraz to head to Valencia, where the Socialists will celebrate their 40th Congress this weekend. It will be a placid event -beyond some specific discussion on controversial issues such as the usual debate on the head of state, relations with the Church or gender self-determination- in which the socialist leadership has made an effort to prioritize unity and cohesion after those troubled years. Prepared with a playful-festive atmosphere and while Sánchez is on track for his fourth year at La Moncloa, the organization has former presidents Felipe González and José Luis Rodríguez as highlights of a conference in which ministers and regional leaders will parade in activities that go beyond of the traditional congressional discussions.

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Dialogues and conferences will decorate a conclave in which Pedro Sánchez intends to turn the page to the internal troubles of four years ago when the party almost fell to pieces. In this context, the PSOE has tried to find a role even for José Luis Ábalos, the great fallen in the latest government and party reshuffles. His presence in the congress that is also held in his land, Valencia, generated some discomfort in the socialist leadership and finally he will fit in a block of “interviews” that the communication department will carry out with “important” protagonists of the Congress, “according to the terminology used by official training sources.

Ábalos will go through the television set to be interviewed by the party’s press staff and that will be the framework in which the president and who was his strong man in the PSOE and the Council of Ministers meet again after having briefly met in Parliament where the Valencian leader maintains his seat. The former minister, who has admitted some discomfort over the ways in which his departure occurred, has already gone through some sets in which he has made it clear that he has not spoken with Sánchez since July 10. Ferraz has allocated a small space to one of the fundamental people for Sánchez to take over again with the general secretariat in 2017 and who has been Number Three of training these four years. The management report prepared by the Organization secretariat bears his signature, although it will be his successor, Santos Cerdán, until now responsible for territorial coordination, who will present it to the conclave. Sánchez is not scheduled to defend the management of his mandate and his intervention is reserved for the massive closing rally on Sunday, according to the list sent to the participants.

Sánchez will also be invited to those conversations moderated by the PSOE press department. The party’s communication director, Maritcha Ruiz Mateos, will act as moderators, along with people from her team, and they will be inaugurated with the Aragonese Javier Lambán, who does not appear, like the rest of the regional presidents, in any other activity. Ministers such as Nadia Calviño, María Jesús Montero, Miquel Iceta, Margarita Robles or Fernando Grande-Marlaska, as well as the future leader of the PSC, Salvador Illa, and as a guest star, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, will also pass through the set.

The PSOE will divide the building into several stages in which simultaneous events will take place that it will broadcast through its social networks. In addition to the five commissions in which the 1,082 delegates will debate the nearly 10,500 amendments that Ferraz has lowered to 6,000, according to sources from the organization, there will be a space called ‘Ágora’ in which there will be round tables on the main challenges that, in the opinion of the PSOE, it addresses the country and other smaller ones with names linked to historical socialists such as Tomás Meabe, Pedro Zerolo, María Cambrils or Txiki Benegas through which ministers and socialist leaders will also parade.

The activities, which will revolve around the slogan ‘We move forward’, will begin on Friday with a meeting of the Federal Policy Council which will be attended by the regional presidents and general secretaries, in addition to the hard core of the leadership and the Socialist ministers. It will be the first image of the “cohesion and unity” that Sánchez wants to show from Moncloa, the Government, the parliamentary groups and the party. That afternoon, in addition to the delivery of the Manuel Marín awards, four colloquia (on Just Ecological Transition, Digital Transformation, Feminism and Demographic Challenge) will be held in which members of the Government, regional presidents and territorial leaders will participate. In the one dedicated to feminism, former Vice President Carmen Calvo, who for these four years has been responsible for Executive Equality, will intervene. In parallel, the rest of the positions will have other talks with high-ranking socialists.

The management balance will be submitted for approval early on Saturday. Subsequently, the deputy secretary general, Adriana Lastra, the leaders of the UGT and CCOO, Pepe Álvarez and Unai Sordo, and the former presidents José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Felipe González will intervene. The latter, who has not participated in party events for years and has declared himself an “orphan” of political representation, is one of the novelties of the event. His presence is especially important for Sánchez, who wants to close the stage of internal civil wars to present a completely appeased party. The work in the commissions will take place in the afternoon and it is expected that the vote on the amendments that reach the plenary alive will take place well into the night.

Meanwhile, there will be another five colloquia on Europe – in this Joaquín Almunia will participate in his capacity as former secretary general-, New Rights and Freedoms -which will again feature Zapatero-, Science and Health, Policies for Youth, and Social Welfare, among other activities. The PSOE foresees that there will be concerts abroad, according to the program that it has sent to the delegates.

On Sunday the new governing bodies will be voted in, in which Sánchez intends to integrate the different factions of the party and promote future leadership in line with what he did with the reshaping of the Government. Later, the Socialists will pay a tribute to former Secretary General Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba before the president closes the 40th Congress with a message that intends to relaunch the party for the second half of the legislature.

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