Ximo Puig will be elected for the third consecutive time as general secretary of the PSPV, a position he has held since 2012, and it will also be the first time he has achieved it without having a rival to dispute it. With this third term, Puig will achieve the longest leadership of Valencian socialism since the stage of Joan Lerma (1979-1997).
The last time in which this same circumstance of a single candidacy occurred was in 2004. Then the candidacy that had no alternative was that of Joan Ignasi Pla, although it turned out to be a mirage. 17 years have had to pass for the socialist leader to have no internal response, and 24 years to find another ‘peace’ congress in 1994 with Lerma. In both cases, the fact that they are candidates who preside over the Generalitat Valenciana has been decisive.
This leadership of Ximo Puig apparently consolidates the overcoming of a stage in which the PSPV suffered a 20-year crossing of the desert in the opposition, between 1995 and 2015, without a clear majority among the various sectors of the party that nor the return to autonomous power Thanks to the Botanical Pact with Compromís and Unides Podem, he was able to stop, since in 2017, at the 13th congress held in Elche, Puig had to agree, while being president, with sectors of the sanchismo not aligned with José Luis Ábalos to defeat the candidate alternative, the mayor of Burjassot, Rafa García. At that congress, Puig announced that he would not run for the general secretary again, a decision from which he has obviously backed down.
The PSPV’s journey through the desert began after the first stage of the Socialists at the Palau de la Generalitat between 1983 and 1995. Joan Lerma resigned from reelection in 1997 and his successor was the former Minister of Education, Joan Romero, who was he narrowly imposed Antonio Moreno, the Lermist candidate, in the eighth National Congress of the PSPV. With a message of renewal, Romero lasted two years in office because in 1999 the first primaries were held in the formation to choose an electoral candidate, which Romero also won, although internal differences led to his resignation at the gates of the elections. The socialist candidate for the Generalitat ended up being Antoni Asunción, a rival defeated in the primaries. The result was the first absolute majority of the PP of Zaplana.
The hardest years: Pla and Alarte
With the resignation of Romero an extraordinary congress was needed to elect a new leader, and it was then that Joan Ignasi Pla prevailed for the first time thanks to an agreement with Lerma and Ciprià Ciscar (an old internal opponent of Lerma in the years of government), leaving out to Asuncion. But the position lasted just three days and he resigned due to internal discrepancies, and the congress in which he was elected was annulled.
Pla had to wait a year for the 2000 congress, when he returned to the career of the general secretary and at that time he had as his great rival José Luis Ábalos (supported by Ciscar), and other candidates such as Andrés Perelló and Josep Bresó. The victory was settled by a slim margin of 10 votes, but it was the first battle in a war that was to last for years. In 2002, primaries were held again to elect a socialist candidate and then Pla did destroy a process in which he won 75% of the support.
This massive support for Pla was not transferred to the polls in the regional elections of 2003, when the PP revalidated its absolute majority. Despite this, the following year, in the 2004 PSPV congress, Pla was re-elected to the head of the party without opposition candidates. Faced with this situation, the PSPV chose to suppress the primaries scheduled for 2006 and Pla faced elections in 2007 in which he again crashed against another absolute majority of the PP.
With two opportunities turned into a fiasco, the socialist apparatus said enough to Pla, who had to resign after uncovering a case of alleged treatment in favor of a builder in some works in his house, so the leader of the PSPV left his chair months later in the same 2007. The eleventh congress would not arrive until 2008, when Ximo Puig appeared for the first time, and he lost to Jorge Alarte, who won by a slim margin of 20 votes. The goal was the 2011 elections.
But Alarte stumbled in those elections with another absolute majority of the PP – the fourth – despite the fact that the denunciations of cases of corruption of the PP and the fact that the popular candidate Francisco Camps was in the eye of the hurricane opened the door to the fall of the right. Alarte did not have a second chance like Pla and in 2012 he failed to revalidate his leadership. Ximo Puig got the general secretary thanks to some pacts that recombined the internal sectors of the PSPV again.
Fight from power: Puig against Ábalos
Thus, Ximo Puig began his leadership stage with various families at home, and he needed ratification. This came with the primaries of 2014, in which he beat Toni Gaspar (current president of the Valencia Provincial Council). And the fifth time was the charm: the PP lost its absolute majority in 2015.
Puig regained the presidency of the Generalitat for the Socialists, but with a stone in his shoe, he did so registering the worst results of the PSPV in regional elections and still being outmatched by the PP. This maintained the fragility of his leadership, a fragility that was exacerbated with the resurrection of the figure of José Luis Ábalos on horseback of another reborn, Pedro Sánchez.
The origin was the well-known round trip of Pedro Sánchez as leader of the PSOE. Puig collaborated in his defenestration in 2016 and supported Susana Díaz to be his successor in the federal congress held in 2017. But Sánchez won again with Ábalos as one of his main supporters and being the candidate most voted by the Socialists of the Valencian Community . After that victory, Ábalos managed to climb to the second ranking of the PSOE, becoming Secretary of Organization.
The push of the ‘abalismo’ gave rise to a candidacy to contest Ximo Puig for the general secretary of the Valencian Socialists that same year 2017. The alternative achieved 42%, again showing a strong internal division. Far from being considered defeated, the Ábalos sector set the provincial executive as a new objective, a position that they did reach through Mercedes Caballero, current president of Valencia. For his part, Ábalos took over the portfolio of the Ministry of Development in 2018 after the electoral victory of the PSOE of Pedro Sánchez.
The following year, in 2019 Ximo Puig was re-elected president of the Generalitat, and he did so by improving his electoral results (always below those obtained before 2015) and led the PSPV to be the most voted party. Since then, a cold war has been experienced within Valencian socialism with two clear references, one in the Valencian Community, and the other watching from Madrid. Until this summer.
The abalism suffered a serious setback with the relief within the Government of José Luis Ábalos on July 10, a relief that a few days later led to the departure of the Valencian from the PSOE organization secretariat. After this fall, the abyss has begun to tempt its clothes and retreat. This time that sector does not present a battle for the fourteenth National Congress of the PSPV to be held in Benidorm in November. The PSPV, for the first time since the Lerma stage, will have a general secretary elected in three consecutive congresses. Now there will be no internal negotiations to form an executive to “unite and unite” the party, according to Ximo Puig’s own words.