Monday, February 06, 2012

THE SPANISH Socialist Party (PSOE), severely wounded after its crushing defeat by the right-wing Partido Popular (PP) in last November’s elections, chose a leader at the weekend. But the average Spanish voter could be forgiven for finding it difficult to tell that anything has changed.

Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba (60) beat his only rival for the leadership, Carme Chacón (41), by a mere 22 votes out of 600.

But Mr Rubalcaba is the same leader who presided over the party’s recent results – the worst in its history. The PSOE’s toxically unpopular outgoing Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, had controversially appointed him to lead the party into the elections from last August.

What is more, for many Spaniards, Mr Rubalcaba seems to have been around forever. He was a minister in the glory days of Felipe González’s huge majorities in the 1980s, and he has almost always been in cabinet since.