We are in 2016. The curtain opens and socialism conspires to raise Susana Díaz to the general secretary of the PSOE.
The former president José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero speaks: “The strength of the PSOE and the strength to win is represented by Susana Díaz. She has my full support.”
The president of Aragon, Javier Lambán, speaks now: “It is a Triana played by the gods of socialism and politics. It will be required to stop, temper and command.”
The former President of Congress, former Minister of Defense and former President of Castilla-La Mancha José Bono also speaks: “It is like an elephant, which is difficult to define, but as soon as we see it we know that it is an elephant. It has leadership, power, strength .. . “.
And all the notables of the PSOE spoke in those months. Also Alfonso Guerra and Felipe González. An alliance of close enemies who had nothing in common except a socialist card and an irrepressible desire to finish off Pedro Sánchez. By then, the party had already opened on the channel in a Federal Committee held on October 1 of that same year. Twelve hours of tears, fractures, insults, threats and a tension never experienced until then that ended with the creation of a manager controlled by Díaz after the resignation of a general secretary, who refused to abstain to facilitate the investiture of Mariano Rajoy, even at the risk that the Spanish would be summoned for the third time in twelve months to a general election.
Three years after that, Susana Díaz definitely leaves the scene. Nobody flatters her anymore. Neither former presidents of the Government, nor barons, nor businessmen nor the media. It no longer levitates through groups promising positions or intimidates members. Who believed infallible and anointed by the gods of socialism today is a sad memory of what could be, was not and will never be after accumulating three resounding and resounding defeats. The first and most traumatic was undoubtedly the one that Pedro Sánchez gave him in the 2017 primaries, after rising from his ashes after that embarrassing 2016 Federal Committee and winning not only Díaz but the entire socialist establishment, which he thought he saw in the then president of Andalusia, a social, political and organic leadership that she lacked.
Díaz was the favorite candidate among the voters of the right, but she had serious difficulties to connect with the militancy and especially with the vote that the Socialists needed to recover to return to being a government party, and which was above all that of a majority young, urban and cosmopolitan social community. That dog-face competition, in which “antisusanismo” prevailed much more than “sanchismo” and offered an impudent display of organic power in favor of the Andalusian leader, opened a deep wound in the PSOE that has not left of festering ever since and expelled a whole generation of socialists from the front line of politics. Díaz played it all or nothing. If it won, the living history of the PSOE won with it; if he lost, they would all derail, barons included. The second happened, and the PSOE stopped being the usual PSOE to be Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE.
His second defeat would come in 2018 when, despite being the first political force in the regional elections, he lost 30% of the votes and had to leave the palace of San Telmo, seat of the Andalusian Government, after an agreement of the three rights. Since then she clung to the general secretariat of the Andalusian socialists to stay alive and because in her ethical code, as those who know her well say, everything is accessory except the organic. But in Ferraz they had already decided their fate and also the regeneration of the initials, the project and the leadership in Andalusia. Sánchez offered him several exits in exchange for leaving the path open for an orderly renovation and he rejected all of them with the conviction that he still had life and possibilities of returning to the Junta de Andalucía, something that all the polls and surveys were in charge of denying. He ratified the militancy with his vote in a primary just a week ago. Juan Espadas, mayor of Seville and favorite of the federal leadership, put her again in front of the mirror of a reality a thousand times denied by his acolytes, after winning with more than 55% of the votes and giving him the third and final defeat.
Goodbye Susana Díaz and goodbye to the last vestige of an oligarchic party model. The barons lose weight and decision-making capacity in a PSOE that, since the 40th Federal Congress that elected Sánchez for the second time secretary general, opted for the empowerment of the bases so that direct democracy could gain space for the representative one. With Díaz, the power of the baronies and a federalized model in which the weight of the territories – a hallmark of the PSOE – made a counterweight to the general secretary disappeared.
Pedro Sánchez thus culminates, with the organic death of Díaz, a journey that began after his re-election in 2017 as general secretary and reflected in a modification of the statutes that made the Federal Committee, the highest body between congresses, an appendix of the designated federal direction by the leader. Critical voices have ceased to be heard with him, beyond the occasional statement by some of the barons with institutional power and greater tradition in the party such as the Castilian-Manchego Emiliano García Page, the Extremaduran Fernández Vara or the Valencian Ximo Puig.
The general secretary has gone, election after internal election, gaining space to the territories with the victory of candidates more or less of his confidence until the internal deliberations and the ordinary functioning of the federal organs completely disappear. Decisions are made by the general secretary and no one disputes them. In Ferraz, even the last electoral list of the most remote province on the map is decided. Also the strategy and when yes or when there are no consultations with the militancy. It has been like that even in the PSC, which is formally a different party.
Andalusia, another branch of Ferraz
For this reason there are those who this week think, with a certain longing, that it was essential for Susana Díaz to lose in the Andalusian primaries, but that “it would have been essential for her to win” as the only way to end the “era of destruction that the PSOE” inaugurated in That Federal Committee of unfortunate memory in 2016, but especially with Sánchez’s victory in the primaries the following year. And they argue it this way: “It is inconceivable that a project wins and that the formula is to wipe out any presence in the party that is uncomfortable for the leader.” Whoever speaks like this maintains that since 2017 “who is not, no longer loyal, but dog, has no place in the PSOE”, while admitting that the defeat of Díaz – “whose political project occupies a millimeter in his head because he has no nothing “- consolidates Sánchez’s party model. An organization, he concludes, without a beat in which even the largest federation in quantitative terms has become a branch of Ferraz “in which no one will stand up or open any debate.” And a consequence of what many already consider “the mess of the primaries” that Joaquín Almunia inaugurated in the PSOE back in 1998 and with which “the destruction of the party” began.
Susana Díaz, recognized in Sánchez’s circle of trust, was the last representative of “an old PSOE in which three barons sat at a table and decided everything, including delegates to a congress.” In the next one, which will take place in October in Valencia, they will be elected by the militancy, “which is the one who makes the big decisions.”
Underlying one opinion and another is the debate about the consequences of the primaries, a vertical party model, the elimination of the power of the intermediate instances and the consolidation of armored and untouchable leaders for the legitimacy of the direct vote of the militancy until they lose the elections and it’s time to build it all over again. But it is a matter on which no socialist dares yet to speak in public and yes in private. Are they the best instrument of internal democracy or a great fiasco that divides the parties and creates hyper-leadership?