Spanish Socialist Workers' Party

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Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Partido Socialista Obrero Español
Abbreviation PSOE
President Micaela Navarro
Secretary-General Pedro Sánchez
Founder Pablo Iglesias Posse
Spokesperson in Congress Antonio Hernando
Spokesperson in Senate María Chivite
Founded 2 May 1879
Headquarters Calle de Ferraz, 70
28008 Madrid, Spain
Newspaper El Socialista
Student wing Campus Joven
Youth wing Socialist Youth of Spain
Trade Union wing General Union of Workers
Membership  (2014) 198,123[1]
Ideology Social democracy[2][3]
Political position Centre-left[2]
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
International affiliation Progressive Alliance,
Socialist International
European Parliament group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colors      Red
Congress of Deputies
90 / 350
56 / 266
European Parliament
14 / 54
Local Government (2011)
20,823 / 67,611
Regional Parliaments
345 / 1,268
Regional Governments
9 / 19
Party flag
New logo of the party, introduced in November 2013
Politics of Spain
Political parties

The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Spanish: Partido Socialista Obrero Español [parˈtiðo soθjaˈlista oˈβɾeɾo espaˈɲol]; better known by its initials, PSOE [peˈsoe]), is a centre-left social-democratic[7] and federalist[4][dubious ] political party in Spain.

PSOE ruled in democratic Spain between 1982 and 1996, and between 2004 and 2011. It is the current oldest party in Spanish history.

The party, under Felipe González, formed a majority government after its victory in the 1982 election which lasted until 1993, after which it formed a minority government until 1996. PSOE has had strong ties with the General Union of Workers (UGT), a Spanish trade union. For decades, UGT membership was a requirement for PSOE membership. However, since the 1980s, UGT has frequently criticized the economic policies of PSOE, even calling for a general strike on 14 December 1988.[8]

PSOE was last in government between 2004 and 2011 under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. The PSOE is a member of the Party of European Socialists, Progressive Alliance and the Socialist International.[8] In the European Parliament, PSOE's 14 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) sit in the Socialists and Democrats European parliamentary group.


PSOE was founded with the purpose of representing and defending the interests of the working class formed during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.[citation needed] In its beginnings, PSOE's main objective was the defence of worker's rights and the achievement of the ideals of socialism, emerging from contemporary philosophy and Marxist politics, by securing political power for the [working class] and socialising the means of production in order to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat in the transition to socialist society.

The ideology of the Spanish Socialist Worker's Party has evolved throughout the 20th Century according to relevant historical events and the evolution of Spanish society.

In 1979 the party abandoned its definitive Marxist theses at the hands of its then secretary general Felipe González, not before overcoming great tensions and two congresses, the first of which preferred to maintain Marxism. Before this situation, notable internal leaders like Pablo Castellano or Luis Gómez Llorente founded the internal faction of Left Socialists, which included the militants who would not renounce Marxism. This allowed for the consolidation of the leftist forces in PSOE. From this moment, the diverse events both outside and within the party led to projects that resembled those of other European social democratic parties and acceptance of the defence of the market economy.

Currently, PSOE defines itself as "social democratic, centre-left and progressive". Concerning the territorial model of the Spanish State, PSOE supports an asymmetric federalism.[9] It is grouped with other self-styled socialists, social democrats and labour parties in the Party of European Socialists.

Early history (1879–1974)

Pablo Iglesias founded the party back in 1879.
Casa Labra Pub

PSOE was founded on 2 May 1879 in the Casa Labra Pub (city of Madrid) by the historical Spanish workers' leader Pablo Iglesias.[8] The first program of the new political party was passed in an assembly of 40 people, on 20 July of that same year. Although PSOE was rather weak during the late 19th century, its active participation in strikes from 1899 to 1902 and especially its electoral coalition with the main Republican parties led in 1910 to the election of Pablo Iglesias as the first Socialist representative in the Spanish Cortes.

The party was a member of the Labour and Socialist International between 1923 and 1940.[10]

PSOE formed part of the Spanish Government during the Second Spanish Republic and as part of the Spanish Popular Front, elected to government in February 1936. During the civil war years, PSOE was divided into three wings: a leftist revolutionary Marxist wing, led by Francisco Largo Caballero that advocated dictatorship of the proletariat, nationalization of every industry, and total redistribution of land; a moderate, social-democratic faction, led by Indalecio Prieto; and a reformist one, led by Julian Besteiro.[11]

The dictator Francisco Franco banned PSOE in 1939, and the party was legalized again in 1977. During Franco's rule members of PSOE were persecuted, with many leaders, members and supporters being imprisoned or exiled and even executed.

Modern history (1974–present)

Its 25th Congress was held in Toulouse in August 1972. In 1974 at its 26th Congress in Suresnes, Felipe González was elected Secretary General, replacing Rodolfo Llopis Ferrándiz. González was from the "reform" wing of the party, and his victory signaled a defeat for the historic and veteran wing of the Party. The direction of the party shifted from the exiles to the young people in Spain who hadn't fought the war.[8]

Llopis led a schism to form the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (historic) González showed intentions to move the party away from its Marxist and socialist background, turning PSOE into a social-democratic party, similar to those of the rest of western Europe. In 1977 PSOE became the unofficial opposition leading party with 29.2% of the vote and 118 seats in the Parliament (which until then it had been the Communists, leading more aggressively among a larger representation of underground parties since the last free popular vote during the Civil War on Republican territory) in what was still a pluralistic party election but heading towards a de facto two-party system. Their standing was further boosted in 1978 when the 6 deputies of the Popular Socialist Party agreed to merge with the party.

In their 27th congress in May 1979 González resigned because the party would not abandon its Marxist character. In September the extraordinary 28th congress was called in which González was re-elected when the party agreed to move away from Marxism. European social-democratic parties supported González's stand, and the Social Democratic Party of Germany granted them money. PSOE party symbol was changed from the anvil with the book to the social-democratic rose in the fist, as used by the French Socialist Party. In the referendum of 1978, PSOE supported the Spanish Constitution, which was approved. In the 1979 Spanish general election PSOE gained 30.5% of the vote and 121 seats, remaining the main opposition party.

File:Spanish Anti-NATO billboard, 1980.png
1980 PSOE Anti-NATO billboard. While opposing Spanish membership to NATO when they were on opposition, the party changed its posture in government, and supported the "Yes" option on the 1986 NATO membership referendum.

At 28 October 1982 Spanish general election, PSOE was victorious, with 48.1% of the vote (10,127,392 total). Felipe González became Prime Minister of Spain on 2 December, a position he held until May 1996.

Though the party had opposed NATO, after reaching the government most party leaders supported keeping Spain inside the organisation. The González administration organised a referendum on the question in 1986, calling for a favourable vote, and won. The administration was criticised for avoiding the official names of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and NATO, using the unofficial Atlantic Alliance terms. A symbol of this U-turn is Javier Solana who campaigned against NATO but ended up years later as its Secretary General.

Felipe González was the Spanish Prime Minister from 1982 to 1996.

PSOE Supported the United States in the Gulf War (1991). PSOE won the 1986, 1989 and 1993 general elections. Under the Gonzalez Administration, public expenditure on education, health, and pensions rose in total by 4.1 points of the country's GDP between 1982 and 1992.[12]

Economic crisis and state terrorism (GAL) against the violent separatist group ETA eroded the popularity of Felipe González, and in 1996, PSOE lost the elections to the conservative People's Party (PP). Between 1996 and 2001 PSOE weathered a crisis, with Gonzalez resigning in 1997. PSOE suffered a heavy defeat in 2000 (34.7%).

PSOE remained as the ruling party in the autonomous communities of Andalusia, Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha and Asturias.

In 2000, a new general secretary, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (also known as ZP), was elected, renewing the party. Later, PSOE won the municipal elections of 2003.

PSOE strongly opposed the Iraq War, which was supported by the PP.

On 13 November 2003 PSOE (Socialists' Party of Catalonia, PSC) increased its vote total but scored second in the regional election in Catalonia, after Convergence and Union. After a period of negotiations, the party formed a pact with Republican Left of Catalonia, Initiative for Catalonia Greens and the United and Alternative Left, and have governed in Catalonia since then.

On 14 March 2004, PSOE won the 2004 Spanish general election with almost 43% of the votes, following the 11-M terrorist (11 March) attacks, and maintained their lead in the elections to the European Parliament.

In 2005, PSOE called for a Yes vote on the European Constitution. PSOE also favoured the negotiations between the government and ETA during the 2006 cease-fire, which had a de facto end with the Barajas Airport terrorist attack.

On 9 March 2008 PSOE won the 2008 general elections again with José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero remaining Prime Minister of Spain. The Socialists increased their share of seats in the Congress of Deputies from 164 to 169 after the latest election.

However, after waning popularity throughout their second term, mainly due to their handling of the worsening economic climate in Spain in the aftermath of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, PSOE were defeated in the general elections of November 2011 by the conservative People's Party.[citation needed] Shortly after, an extraordinary congress was held, in which Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, former Deputy to Zapatero and Minister of the Interior, was elected Secretary General defeating Carme Chacón, the other candidate, who stood for the Zapatero platform. This victory caused huge internal divisions and weakened the party's external image.

In 2013, PSOE held a political conference which introduced a completely new platform, widely seen as a move to the left in a desperate attempt to steal votes from parties such as United Left, whose popularity rose steadily due to the general discontent with the two-party system and spending cuts. That platform was the basis for the European Parliament election manifesto, promoted as a solid alternative to the conservative plan for Europe. The expectations inside the party, which chose Elena Valenciano as their election candidate, were really optimistic; however, the social democrats suffered another huge defeat due to the appearance of new parties such as Podemos which managed to gain the support of left-wing voters; PSOE won 14 seats. Shortly thereafter, Rubalcaba resigned as Secretary General and an Extraordinary Congress was convoked. This congress was the first to use a primary election system with three candidates: Pedro Sánchez, Eduardo Madina and José Antonio Pérez-Tapias. Pedro Sánchez was elected with 49 percent of the vote of the affiliates and therefore became Secretary General on 27 July.

In 2015 municipal elections were held, where the PSOE won 25% of the vote, one of its worst results in the history of democracy, together with the fall of the Popular Party, which won 27% of votes, it meant the end of the two-party system in Spain in favor of new parties. The PSOE lost 943 councilors but passes govern 2-7 communities through pacts left.

On 20 December, the general election was held, which produced a parliament broken into four major parties. PSOE, due to the large increase for parties like Podemos (far left) and Citizens (center), got about 20% of the vote, its worst result since democracy was restored.

Election results

Congress of Deputies and Senate

Election Congress of Deputies Senate Rank Government Leader
Votes  % ±pp Seats won +/− Seats won +/−
1907  ? 0.2% New
0 / 404
±0  ? No seats Pablo Iglesias Posse
1910 No data
1 / 404
Increase1  ? Opposition Pablo Iglesias Posse
1914 No data
1 / 408
±0  ? Opposition Pablo Iglesias Posse
1916 No data
1 / 409
±0  ? Opposition Pablo Iglesias Posse
1918 No data
6 / 409
Increase5  ? Opposition Pablo Iglesias Posse
1919 No data
6 / 409
±0  ? Opposition Pablo Iglesias Posse
1920 No data
4 / 409
Decrease2  ? Opposition Pablo Iglesias Posse
1923 No data
7 / 409
Increase3  ? Opposition Pablo Iglesias Posse
1931  ? 21.4% New
115 / 470
Increase115 #1 Coalition gov't
Julián Besteiro
1933  ? 19.4% Decrease2.0
59 / 472
Decrease56 #1 Opposition Francisco Largo Caballero
1936  ? 16.4% Decrease3.0
99 / 473
Increase40 #2 Gov't support Indalecio Prieto
1977 5,371,866 29.3% New
118 / 350
54 / 207
Increase54 #2 Opposition Felipe González
1979 5,469,813 30.4% Increase1.1
121 / 350
67 / 208
Increase13 #2 Opposition Felipe González
1982 10,127,392 48.1% Increase17.7
202 / 350
134 / 208
Increase67 #1 Majority gov't Felipe González
1986 8,901,718 44.1% Decrease4.0
184 / 350
124 / 208
Decrease10 #1 Majority gov't Felipe González
1989 8,115,568 39.6% Decrease4.5
175 / 350
107 / 208
Decrease17 #1 Minority gov't Felipe González
1993 9,150,083 38.8% Decrease0.8
159 / 350
96 / 208
Decrease11 #1 Minority gov't Felipe González
1996 9,425,678 37.6% Decrease1.2
141 / 350
81 / 208
Decrease15 #2 Opposition Felipe González
2000 7,918,752 34.2% Decrease3.4
125 / 350
60 / 208
Decrease21 #2 Opposition Joaquín Almunia
2004 11,026,163 42.6% Increase8.4
164 / 350
89 / 208
Increase29 #1 Minority gov't José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
2008 11,289,335 43.9% Increase1.3
169 / 350
96 / 208
Increase7 #1 Minority gov't José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
2011 7,003,511 28.8% Decrease15.1
110 / 350
54 / 208
Decrease42 #2 Opposition Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba
2015 5,530,779 22.0% Decrease6.8
90 / 350
47 / 208
Decrease7 #2 To be determined Pedro Sánchez

European Parliament

European Parliament
Election Votes  % ±pp Seats won +/− Rank Candidate
1987 7,522,706 39.1% New
28 / 60
Increase28 #1 Fernando Morán
1989 6,275,552 39.6% Increase0.5
27 / 60
Decrease1 #1 Fernando Morán
1994 5,719,707 30.8% Decrease8.8
22 / 64
Decrease5 #2 Fernando Morán
1999 7,477,823 35.3% Increase4.5
24 / 64
Increase2 #2 Rosa Díez
2004 6,741,112 43.5% Increase8.2
25 / 54
Increase1 #1 Josep Borrell
2009 6,141,784 38.8% Decrease4.7
23 / 54
Decrease2 #2 Juan Fernando López Aguilar
2014 3,614,232 23.0% Decrease15.8
14 / 54
Decrease9 #2 Elena Valenciano

Local councils

Local councils
Election Votes  % ±pp Seats won +/− Rank Leader
1931 No data
674 / 5,391
Increase674  ? Julián Besteiro
1933 No data
1,826 / 16,031
Increase1,152  ? Francisco Largo Caballero
1979 4,615,837 28.2% New
12,059 / 67,505
Increase12,059 #2 Felipe González
1983 7,683,197 43.0% Increase14.8
23,325 / 67,312
Increase11,266 #1 Felipe González
1987 7,229,782 37.1% Decrease5.9
23,241 / 65,577
Decrease84 #1 Felipe González
1991 7,224,242 38.3% Increase1.2
25,260 / 66,308
Increase2,019 #1 Felipe González
1995 6,838,607 30.8% Decrease7.5
21,189 / 65,869
Decrease4,071 #2 Felipe González
1999 7,296,484 34.3% Increase3.5
21,917 / 65,201
Increase728 #2 Joaquín Almunia
2003 7,999,178 34.8% Increase0.5
23,224 / 65,510
Increase1,307 #1 José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
2007 7,760,865 34.9% Increase0.1
24,029 / 66,131
Increase805 #2 José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
2011 6,275,314 27.8% Decrease7.1
21,766 / 68,230
Decrease2,263 #2 José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
2015 5,603,823 25.0% Decrease2.8
20,823 / 67,611
Decrease943 #2 Pedro Sánchez


  • Baron: Unofficial term for the party's regional leaders. They can be very powerful, especially if they run an autonomous community. There have been conflicts between barons and the central directorate in the past. Some barons were Pasqual Maragall (Catalonia), who didn't run for re-election in 2006; Juan Carlos Rodríguez Ibarra (Extremadura), who didn't run for re-election in 2007; Manuel Chaves (Andalucia), who renounced Andalucia's presidency in 2009 to assume Third Vice Presidency of the Spanish Government; José Montilla (Catalonia), now opposition leader. The term barón is more colloquial than official, representing the great power regional leaders have in the party, but it has been falling out of use since 2008.[citation needed]
  • Compañero ("companion", "comrade"): A term of address among Socialists, analogous to the English comrade.
  • Currents: There have been several internal groups within PSOE, based on personal or ideological affinities. Some of them have ended with separation from PSOE. The failed trial of primary elections for PSOE candidates was an attempt to conciliate currents. Examples of currents are "Guerristas" (followers of Alfonso Guerra), "Renovadores" (renewers, right wing of the Party) or Izquierda Socialista (Socialist Left).

Historical leaders

President Term
1. Pablo Iglesias 1879–1925
2. Julián Besteiro 1925–1932
3. Francisco Largo Caballero 1932–1935
4. Indalecio Prieto 1935–1948
5. Trifón Gómez 1948–1955
Vacant 1955–1964
6. Pascual Tomás 1964–1967
7. Ramón Rubial 1967–1970
In exile 1970–1976
8. Ramón Rubial 1976–1999
9. Manuel Chaves 1999–2012
10. José Antonio Griñán 2012–2014
11. Micaela Navarro 2014–present
Secretary-General Term
1. Ramón Lamoneda 1936–1944
2. Rodolfo Llopis 1944–1972
In exile 1972–1974
3. Felipe González 1974–1997
4. Joaquín Almunia 1997–2000
5. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero 2000–2012
6. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba 2012–2014
7. Pedro Sánchez 2014–present

Notable members

See also


  1. [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 PSOE. Ideology: Social democracy. Political Position: Centre-left - European Social Survey
  3. Wolfram Nordsieck. "Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck". Retrieved 12 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 Amoretti & Bermeo 2004, p. 142: «while the Conservatives (PP) sought to defend the constitution in its current state, the Socialists (PSOE) sought to reform the constitution along a federalist path»
  5. Gibbons 1999, p. 48: «This was in line with the PSOE's strongly pro-European policies»
  6. Campoy-Cubillo 2012, p. 163: «The Saharawi cause was embraced not only by the Europeanist PSOE»
  7. The PSOE is described as a social-democratic party by numerous sources:
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 "History of PSOE" (in Spanish). PSOE own site. Retrieved 11 July 2007.CS1 maint: unrecognized language (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. (Spanish) El líder del PSOE señala que "todos los federalismos son asimétricos" y opta por este modelo porque la Constitución "se quedó un poquito a medias"La Vanguardia
  10. Kowalski, Werner. Geschichte der sozialistischen arbeiter-internationale: 1923 – 19. Berlin: Dt. Verl. d. Wissenschaften, 1985. p. 325
  11. Helen Graham, "The Spanish Socialist Party in Power and the Government of Juan Negrín, 1937-9," European History Quarterly (1988) 18#2 pp 175–206. online
  12. Regimes, Politics, and Markets: Democratization and Economic Change in ... – José María Maravall – Google Books. Retrieved 9 February 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


Further reading

  • Graham, Helen. "The Spanish Socialist Party in Power and the Government of Juan Negrín, 1937-9," European History Quarterly (1988) 18#2 pp 175–206. online

External links