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PSOE chooses Pedro Sánchez for party leader

Pedro Sánchez celebrates his victory with supporters.
Pedro Sánchez celebrates his victory with supporters. / REUTERS
  • The former leader beats favourite Susana Díaz and returns to the helm to face the challenge of guiding a drifting Socialist party back on course

Members of Spain's Socialist party, PSOE, have put their former leader, Pedro Sánchez, back in the role of secretary general. In Sunday's primary election, in which more than 74,000 socialists voted, Sánchez gained over 50% of support, ahead of his main rival and favourite to win Susana Díaz, the president of Andalucía, with just under 40%. The third candidate, Patxi López, was supported by nearly 10% of the voters.

Pedro Sánchez returns to the helm of a divided PSOE, despite the majority of party heavyweights backing Susana Díaz.

The numbers of grassroots supporters who turned up at his election rallies, however, should have come as a warning to those who were confident that Díaz would become the new secretary general.

Sánchez with Susana Díaz and Patxi López on Sunday night.

Sánchez with Susana Díaz and Patxi López on Sunday night. / REUTERS

Sánchez's re-election opens a period of uncertainty. He no longer has a seat in Parliament and faces the challenge of leading a solid opposition to the PP's minority government through the Socialist MPs, more than half of whom expressed their support for Susana Díaz.

Sánchez won the allegiance of the grassroots Socialists with his "No is no" stance that would have prevented the current conservative prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, from forming a government and forced a third general election.

Rather than give in to the party heavyweights and abstain in Rajoy's investiture vote in October last year Sánchez resigned from his seat and from his position as party leader.

Since then the PSOE has been run by an interim caretaker committee.