There is little more than a month for the PSOE to celebrate its 40th Congress and the atmosphere is already heated in the socialist ranks. Despite the nervousness of the cadres, there will be no fight – Ferraz has been guaranteed that territorial conflicts do not splash the federal conclave – and works on an almost festive event.
The PSOE is committed to reviewing the agreements with the Vatican with “dialogue” and “consensus” with the Church
It will be the first great act of the match after the pandemic once its end is in sight and Pedro Sánchez’s claim is to kick off the “fair recovery” in Valencia, which will be the leitmotiv Moncloa’s strategy, although the skyrocketing price of electricity is clouding it. Hence, “moving forward” is the concept that the leadership has associated with this congress, which will also mean a new stage in the party after the battle four years ago. The general secretary will incorporate leaders to the Executive regardless of their affiliation in the past, although he will keep his hands free with respect to territorial powers.
Sánchez has the absolute power of the PSOE without internal counterweights since 2017, when he set up an Executive of the faithful with the only incorporation of Patxi López and Guillermo Fernández Vara, but the healing of the wound has led him to shelve and start a new time. The arrival to the presidency of the Government was already the first step in the integration process with the incorporation in second levels of the Executive and the Administration of socialist leaders from the susanism or that they had been with Patxi López. This was the case of Óscar López as president of Paradores -now promoted to Sánchez’s chief of staff-, of Pedro Saura, who now replaces him in the public hotel chain from the Secretary of State for Infrastructure, Transport and Housing, or of José Andrés Torres Mora as head of the Cultural Action company, among many others.
The profound remodeling of the Government was the transfer of that new time to the Council of Ministers with the incorporation of Isabel Rodríguez and Pilar Alegría –madinistas first, and later susanists— or the appointment of López. The culmination of that process will be the composition of the new leadership of the PSOE in which Sánchez will incorporate profiles from different families to finish sewing the party after the war of a few years ago. Socialist sources suggest that there will be representation of all federations, but the names will not be proposed by the barons, as happened in the past when congresses through delegates forced pacts that are reduced in primary competitions.
Sánchez will also significantly reduce the size of the Executive, which is now made up of fifty leaders, of whom less than a dozen will repeat, in principle, according to socialist sources. The positions that are already clear are those of Adriana Lastra as Deputy Secretary General and Santos Cerdán as Secretary of Organization. Héctor Gómez and Eva Granados will have their seat assured as spokespersons in Congress and the Senate, respectively. Socialist sources assume that Cristina Narbona will repeat as president. Sánchez was photographed with all of them after the management meeting last Monday.
Faced with the new stage that Sánchez opened with the remodeling of his cabinet, in what Ferraz and the federations that were furthest from Sánchez agree, is that there has been an important change in relations. “The thing flows,” says a territorial leader. “It has returned to a classic structure with constant calls,” adds another in reference to the relationship between the teams of Moncloa and the PSOE and also Ferraz with the federations. As chief of staff, Óscar López has recovered a relationship with the party that was practically non-existent on the part of Iván Redondo.
Ferraz has also guaranteed that territorial conflicts do not cloud the federal congress. A battle is only expected in Madrid – where there are already several candidates in the running – and in Galicia. In the first case, despite being one of the federations that hurts the socialist leaders the most — on this occasion, no one dares to predict a categorical result—, the manager achieved a single list of delegates. The battle was also postponed in most Galician provinces after an agreement between the current secretary general, Gonzalo Caballero, with the Valentín García sector for a single list in A Coruña, postponing the battle to the regional primaries that will be held later after the attempt. Caballero failed to overtake them. Only in Cádiz, Palencia, Ourense, Cantabria and Fuerteventura will there be voting to choose the delegates who will go to Valencia in mid-October.
Regarding the ideological content, no big news is expected. Nor was there much battle four years ago when Sánchez changed the party model from top to bottom – theoretically giving more power to the militancy and the federal leadership to the detriment of the intermediate classes – or when he incorporated ideological concepts, such as plurinationality, which counted with strong reluctance in an important part of the PSOE. Now it is Sánchez himself who has abandoned what was precisely one of the workhorses in the last congress, along with the rented bellies, a matter that the management hopes will not come out again when they consider it settled then when imposing an overwhelming rejection after intense debate. The framework presentation prepared for the 40th Congress hardly incorporates any new features and in some of the traditional flags of the Socialists, such as the denunciation of the agreements with the Vatican, it is less ambitious than in the past.
Some Socialists consider that the new model for electing delegates – through closed lists and in most cases unique – and debate on the amendments – which at the provincial level will be held only among those delegates compared to the previous system of congresses – will make it difficult the advent of tricky matters. In the leadership they maintain that they do not have to be this way, they consider that issues will be open for debate and they assume that they will have to roll up their sleeves again to short-circuit some amendments, such as the traditional one in favor of the republic.