Eyes on Sanchez heading to general elections in April while PSOE fights between right wing and Catalan independentists

Madrid, 9 March  – El Día Internacional de la Mujer  has been also the day of relaunch and hope for the Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez, who recently decided to schedule new general elections next 28 April after his new budget did not pass in the Congress where PSOE represents a minority government.

The day after the massive rallies for the International Women Day, Pedro Sanchez laid out the future reforms for the Spain he wants, and love as, “feminist with no adjectives”, in opposition to the moderate ‘liberal feminism’, promoted by centre right parties: conservative PP of the former PM Mariano Rajoy, liberal Ciudadanos and the new far right Vox.

New social policies introduced to sustain women with part-time jobs, the increase minimum wage, the biggest increase in 40 years, will mainly help women and the upcoming benefits for dependent children and subsidy for unemployed over 52 years are the next steps on the path of the “transformative policy” Spain needs in order to become a more just and equal country after seven years Rajoy conservatism.

But Sanchez’ reformist path is not straightforward and full of hurdles as PSOE holds a minority government in the Congress after its motion of no confidence ousted Rajoy. Soon after he became PM last year, new elections were promised without a date set, but after the stop to the budget the looming crisis led to new determination, though new general elections aren’t constitutionally mandatory in this case.

The main issue is now whether new elections will put PSOE and Sanchez at risk. Between Podemos on the left and PP/Ciudadanos/Vox on the right using Catalan independentism as leverage to oust the socialists, a snap election could turn risky, although polls (issued by El Pais) set PSOE to 24%. PP at 21% Ciudadanos at 18% Podemos 15% and the far-right Vox 10%.

A right wing revival has been boosted by Sanchez’ politics of reconciliation and direct concertation between Madrid and Barcelona, though recently these fell back to a criticised call for mediation. Despite that, the Spanish PM has still been accused by the right wing of granting hidden concessions to separatists.

Who is on the side of socialist PSOE then? As a political paradox, Catalan independentists movements ERC and PdeCat: they backed Sanchez already, despite he will not reckon any form of self determination or self government, but they certainly oppose a right wing which would revoke devolved regional powers from Barcelona.

It is likely a right wing coalition will challenge PSOE at next general elections, as PP/Ciudadanos/Vox, which share the tough line over Catalan independentism, recently united in a rally the same day of ex Catalan leader, Carles Puigdemont, trial in Madrid; a rally described by socialist Prime Minister as “the return to a past we do not want to see anymore”.

Along with the future of Spanish socialists, the one of a socialist Europe is hung up as EU members states are threaten by far right movements with no precise ideological positions, yet able to tailor their fragile identities through a rhetorical stigmatisation of nation and creation of common enemies.

Rosa Velazquez