MADRID: Spain’s opposition Socialists,besieged by upstart leftist movements and struggling to win back voters, on Sunday chose economist Pedro Sanchez to lead the party and try and revive its chances in a looming election.
Pedro Sanchez, 42, a telegenic parliamentarian who only burst into the limelight in recent weeks, was elected by party members as the Socialists bid to overturn a dramatic decline.
Support for Spain’s two dominant political forces, including the center-right People’s Party (PP) now in power, has plummeted after a six-year economic downturn and corruption scandals.
New anti-austerity and anti-establishment parties tapping into that disenchantment have further fragmented the left, and the Socialists suffered their worst-ever election showing in a European Parliament vote in May, pushing former leader and party veteran Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, 62, to quit.
Sanchez, who does not have high-level experience in the shadow cabinet or as a regional leader, will have to start rebuilding the party in time for next year’s election as a credible challenger to the PP, which beat the Socialists in 2011
with an absolute majority.
After wielding deep cuts in public spending, the PP of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy was also punished by voters in May, but still came first.