Spanish Socialist Workers' Party

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Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Partido Socialista Obrero Español
President Micaela Navarro
Secretary-General Pedro Sánchez
Founder Pablo Iglesias Posse
Spokesperson in Congress Antonio Hernando
Spokeperson 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][4][5][6]
Political position Centre-left[9]
International affiliation Progressive Alliance,
Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
European Parliament group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colors      Red
Congress of Deputies
110 / 350
63 / 266
European Parliament
14 / 54
Local Government (2011)
21,766 / 68,230
Regional Parliaments
345 / 1,268
Regional Governments
3 / 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 social-democratic[9][10][3][4][5][11]
federalist[12] political party in Spain. Its political position is centre-left. The PSOE is the former ruling party of Spain, until beaten in the elections of November 2011 and the second oldest, exceeded only by the Carlist Party, founded in 1833.[citation needed]

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. The 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. During the 1980s, though, UGT criticised the economic policies of the PSOE, even calling for a general strike on 14 December 1988.[13]

The PSOE was last in government between 2004 and 2011 under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. The party is a full member of the Party of European Socialists and the Socialist International.[13] In the European Parliament, the PSOE's 14 MEPs sit in the Socialists and Democrats European parliamentary group.


The 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, the 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 the 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.

Presently the PSOE is a political party that defines itself as "social democratic, centre-left and progressive". Concerning the territorial model of the Spanish State, PSOE supports an asymmetric federalism.[14] It is grouped with other self-styled socialists, social democrats and labour parties in the Party of European Socialists.

Early history (1879–1974)[edit]

Casa Labra Pub

The PSOE was founded on 2 May 1879 in the Casa Labra Pub (city of Madrid) by the historical Spanish workers' leader Pablo Iglesias.[13] The first program of the new political party was passed in an assembly of 40 people, on 20 July of that same year. Although the 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.[15]

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.[16]

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

Modern history (1974–present)[edit]

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.[13]

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 the 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. The 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 the PSOE gained 30.5% of the vote and 121 seats, remaining the main opposition party.

At 28 October 1982 Spanish general election, the 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.

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.

Though the party had previously 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.

PSOE Supported the United States in the Gulf War (1991). The 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.[17]

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

The 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, the PSOE won the municipal elections of 2003.

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

On 13 November 2003 the 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, the 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 the PSOE won the 2008 Spanish 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, the 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, the 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 discomptent against 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 which managed to gain the support of left-wing voters, e.g.: Podemos; the PSOE won 14 seats. Shortly thereafter, Rubalcaba resigned as Secretary General and an Extraordinary Congress was convocated. 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.

Election results[edit]

Congress of Deputies[edit]

Congress of Deputies
Date Votes Seats Position Size Notes
#  % ± pp # ±
1907 0.2%
0 / 404
1 / 404
Increase1 Opposition
1 / 408
±0 Opposition
1 / 409
±0 Opposition
6 / 409
Increase5 Opposition
6 / 409
±0 Opposition
4 / 409
Decrease2 Opposition
7 / 409
Increase3 Opposition
1931 21.4%
115 / 470
Government 1st opposition from 09/1933
1933 19.4% Decrease2.0
59 / 472
Decrease56 Opposition 1st
1936 16.4% Decrease3.0
99 / 473
Increase40 Opposition 2nd government from 09/1936
1977 5,371,866 29.3%
118 / 350
Opposition 2nd
1979 5,469,813 30.4% Increase1.1
121 / 350
Increase3 Opposition 2nd
1982 10,127,392 48.1% Increase17.7
202 / 350
Increase81 Government 1st
1986 8,901,718 44.1% Decrease4.0
184 / 350
Decrease18 Government 1st
1989 8,115,568 39.6% Decrease4.5
175 / 350
Decrease9 Government 1st
1993 9,150,083 38.8% Decrease0.8
159 / 350
Decrease16 Government 1st
1996 9,425,678 37.6% Decrease1.2
141 / 350
Decrease18 Opposition 2nd
2000 7,918,752 34.2% Decrease3.4
125 / 350
Decrease16 Opposition 2nd
2004 11,026,163 42.6% Increase8.4
164 / 350
Increase39 Government 1st
2008 11,289,335 43.9% Increase1.3
169 / 350
Increase5 Government 1st
2011 7,003,511 28.8% Decrease15.1
110 / 350
Decrease59 Opposition 2nd

European Parliament[edit]

European Parliament
Date Votes Seats Size
#  % ± pp # ±
1987 7,522,706 39.1%
28 / 60
1989 6,275,552 39.6% Increase0.5
27 / 60
Decrease1 1st
1994 5,719,707 30.8% Decrease8.8
22 / 64
Decrease5 2nd
1999 7,477,823 35.3% Increase4.5
24 / 64
Increase2 2nd
2004 6,741,112 43.5% Increase8.2
25 / 54
Increase1 1st
2009 6,141,784 38.8% Decrease4.7
23 / 54
Decrease2 2nd
2014 3,614,232 23.0% Decrease15.8
14 / 54
Decrease9 2nd

Local councils[edit]

Local councils
Date Votes Seats Size
#  % ± pp # ±
674 / 5,391
1,826 / 16,031
1979 4,615,837 28.2%
12,059 / 67,505
1983 7,683,197 43.0% Increase14.8
23,325 / 67,312
Increase11,266 1st
1987 7,229,782 37.1% Decrease5.9
23,241 / 65,577
Decrease84 1st
1991 7,224,242 38.3% Increase1.2
25,260 / 66,308
Increase2,019 1st
1995 6,838,607 30.8% Decrease7.5
21,189 / 65,869
Decrease4,071 2nd
1999 7,296,484 34.3% Increase3.5
21,917 / 65,201
Increase728 2nd
2003 7,999,178 34.8% Increase0.5
23,224 / 65,510
Increase1,307 1st
2007 7,760,865 34.9% Increase0.1
24,029 / 66,131
Increase805 2nd
2011 6,275,314 27.8% Decrease7.1
21,766 / 68,230
Decrease2,263 2nd


  • 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 the 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[edit]

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[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Merkel, Wolfgang; Alexander Petring, Christian Henkes, Christoph Egle (2008). Social Democracy in Power: the capacity to reform. London: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-415-43820-9. 
  3. ^ a b Nikiforos P. Diamandouros; Richard Gunther (9 May 2001). Parties, Politics, and Democracy in the New Southern Europe. JHU Press. pp. 315–. ISBN 978-0-8018-6518-3. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Dimitri Almeida (27 April 2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. CRC Press. pp. 71–. ISBN 978-1-136-34039-0. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Richard Collin; Pamela L. Martin (2012). An Introduction to World Politics: Conflict and Consensus on a Small Planet. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 218–. ISBN 978-1-4422-1803-1. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Ari-Veikko Anttiroiko; Matti Mälkiä (2007). Encyclopedia of Digital Government. Idea Group Inc (IGI). pp. 397–. ISBN 978-1-59140-790-4. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Gibbons 1999, p. 48: «This was in line with the PSOE's strongly pro-European policies»
  8. ^ Campoy-Cubillo 2012, p. 163: «The Saharawi cause was embraced not only by the Europeanist PSOE»
  9. ^ a b PSOE. Ideology: Social democracy. Political Position: Centre-left - European Social Survey
  10. ^ Wolfram Nordsieck. "Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck". Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  11. ^ Anttiroiko & Mälkiä 2007, p. 397.
  12. ^ 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»
  13. ^ a b c d "History of PSOE" (in Spanish). PSOE own site. Retrieved 11 July 2007. 
  14. ^ (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
  15. ^ Kowalski, Werner. Geschichte der sozialistischen arbeiter-internationale: 1923 – 19. Berlin: Dt. Verl. d. Wissenschaften, 1985. p. 325
  16. ^ 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
  17. ^ Regimes, Politics, and Markets: Democratization and Economic Change in ... – José María Maravall – Google Books. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 


Further reading[edit]

  • 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[edit]