Gonzalez exit shocks Socialists shocks party with exit
Saturday 21 June 1997
Yesterday, the Spanish Socialist leader threw thousands of delegates at the party's congress in Madrid into turmoil with the shock announcement that he would not stand again as candidate for Secretary-General. He said that it was time for a new generation to rule Spain's principal opposition party.
He is known to be tired and politically aged beyond his 55 years. But he is also renowned as a consummate political operator who never ceases to spring surprises, and it may be that this is another political ploy.
Mr Gonzalez had been party leader since 1974 when he was elected unexpectedly at a clandestine congress held near Paris during the Franco dictatorship. No plausible candidate emerges immediately as a possible successor, but among those mentioned are Joaquin Almunia, a spokesman for Mr Gonzalez, Josep Borrell, a pushy former socialist minister; and Javier Solana, now Secretary-General of Nato.
It was no secret before last year's elections, when the Socialists were defeated after nearly 14 years in power, with Mr Gonzalez as Prime Minister, that the socialist leader was stale, dispirited, and wanted to quit.
But he threw himself wholeheartedly into an enthusiastic campaign, pulling out all the stops, and is credited personally with having held his party to within a whisker of winning the election.
The Popular Party, led by the Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, achieved only a relative majority, and today depend on votes from the Catalan nationalists to rule.
The Socialists, accused of corruption and undercover death squads against Eta suspects, had become discredited and bereft of ideas. Their unexpectedly good result is directly attributable to the personal prestige and popularity of Mr Gonzalez, who, since he burst upon the Spanish political scene more than 20 years ago, has not ceased to dominate it. This is partly because of his undoubted charisma, and partly, critics say, because of his supreme talent for destroying potential rivals within his own party before they became a threat to his leadership.
This is not the first time he has threatened to leave his comrades in the lurch.
At the party's congress in 1979, when the Socialists for the first time began to realise they might win power in Spain's new democracy, he suddenly plunged into a hectic debate about whether or not the party should renounce its commitment to Marxism, saying that he would quit unless they abandoned what he considered to be outmoded revolutionary rhetoric.
Then, as now, the comrades, hitherto all full of intrigue about internal politics, were left speechless and rudderless.
- 1 If you weren't afraid of flying before last week... you probably are now
- 2 Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
- 3 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 4 Lauren Goodger calls for tougher laws on revenge porn after sex tape leaks online
- 5 Iraq crisis: End 'very near' for Christianity after Isis takeover, says Bishop
Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Opponents of Israel's military operation in Gaza are the real enemies of Middle Eastern peace
Were 'Poor Doors' added to mixed developments so wealthy residents don't have to go in alongside social housing tenants?
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established professional services...
Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION SO...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...