May 10, 2017
PSOE primary campaign in full swing
After months of foreshadowing and manoeuvres, the PSOE leadership primary yesterday entered two weeks of official campaigning until the vote on Sunday May 21. The contenders are Susana Díaz, the Andalusian regional premier and favoured by the party apparatus; Pedro Sánchez, the former party secretary general who is hoping for a comeback after being ousted in October and replaced by a managing committee; and Patxi López, who was speaker of the Spanish parliament in the first half of last year and is presenting himself as a compromise candidate between the other two irreconcilable camps. There will be a three-way debate May 15.
The first bout in this contest was the presentation of members' endorsements by the three candidates. Diaz's camp had hoped to show an overwhelming support from the PSOE rank and file, but was instead upstaged by the strong showing by Sánchez. Even though Díaz had the most endorsements - of under 60,000 party members - Sánchez exceeded expectations and presented over 53,000. Considering that Díaz had the explicit support of the party apparatus, this has been interpreted as strenghtening Sánchez. López had under 11,000 endorsements, barely enough to qualify.
Reflecting the conventional wisdom, the two largest US banks, Bank of America and JP Morgan, have sent notes to investors in which they warn of the likelihood of snap elections if Sánchez wins the PSOE leadership contest. Sánchez would oppose Mariano Rajoy's budget, which the PM intends the parliament to pass by the end of June. In the background, there is also Podemos' call for a motion of no confidence agaist Rajoy, which Sánchez could conceivably support while Díaz would not. The two US banks suggest that Díaz as PSOE leader would buttress the political stability of the country. Needless to say, the implicit endorsement of Díaz by two large US banks is not expected to help her with the PSOE members and sympathisers, who are the ones that will be voting in the primary.