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Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Partido Socialista Obrero Español
President Manuel Chaves González
Secretary-General José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
Founded 1879
Headquarters C/Ferraz 70 Madrid
Membership 460,000
Ideology Social democracy
Third Way
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
European Parliament Group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Official colours Red
Politics of Spain
Political parties

The Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Spanish: Partido Socialista Obrero Español, PSOE), is the ruling party in Spain and the second oldest, exceeded only by the Partido Carlista, founded in 1833. It identifies itself as a centre-left, social-democratic, democratic socialist and progressivist party.[1]

It has had strong ties with the Unión General de Trabajadores, 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 December 14, 1988.[1]

Since the Spanish legislative election, 2004 on March 14, 2004 it has been the governing party. It forms part of the Party of European Socialists and is a member of the Socialist International.[1]



The PSOE was founded with the purpose of representing the interests of the working class born from the Industrial Revolution with the declared objective of achieving socialism, and inspired by the revolutionary principles of Marxism. Currently, it is a social democratic and Democratic socialist party.

Early history (1879 - 1974)

Casa Labra Pub

The PSOE was founded on May 2, 1879 in the Casa Labra Pub (city of Madrid) by the historical Spanish workers' leader Pablo Iglesias.[1] The first program of the new political party was passed in an assembly of 40 people, on July 20 of that same year. Although the PSOE was rather weak during the late 1800s, 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.[2]

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 democrat faction,[citation needed] led by Indalecio Prieto; and a reformist one, led by Julian Besteiro.[1]

The dictator Francisco Franco banned the PSOE in 1939, and it was legalized again in 1977. During Franco's rule it was persecuted, with many leaders, members and supporters being imprisoned or exiled and even executed.[1]

Modern history (1974 - Present day)

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.[1]

Llopis led a schism to form the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (historic) (PSOE (h)). 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 official opposition party with 29.2% of the vote and 118 seats in the Parliament. Their standing was further boosted in 1978 when the 6 deputies of the Popular Socialist Party (Spain) agreed to merge with the party.

In their 27th congress in May 1979 Gonzalez 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 German SPD granted them money. The party symbol was changed from the anvil with the book to the Social Democratic rose in fist. In the referendum of 1978, PSOE supported the Spanish Constitution, which was approved. In the 1979 elections they gained 30.5% of the vote and 121 seats, remaining the main opposition party.

On October 28, 1982, the PSOE was victorious, with 48.5% of the vote (10,000,000 total). Felipe González became Prime Minister of Spain on December 2, a position he held until March 1996.

Anti-NATO sticker

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 First Gulf War (1991). The PSOE won 1986, 1989 and 1993 elections.

Economic crisis, several corruption scandals[citation needed] and state terrorism[citation needed] (GAL) against the violent separatist group ETA eroded the popularity of Felipe González, and in 1996, the PSOE lost the elections to the conservative Partido Popular (PP). Between 1996 and 2001 the PSOE weathered a crisis, with Gonzalez resigning in 1997. The party suffered a heavy defeat in 2000 (34.7%).

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

In 2001, 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(PSC) increased its vote total but scored second in the regional election in Catalonia, after CiU. After a period of negotiations, the party formed a pact with Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia, ERC, left-wing Catalan independentists) and Iniciativa per Catalunya-Els Verds/Esquerra Unida i Alternativa (Initiative for Catalonia Greens/United and Alternative Left, ICV/EUiA, left-wing coalition of green and communist parties) and have governed in Catalonia since then.

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

In 2005, PSOE called for a Yes vote on the European Constitution. It has since legalised same-sex marriage, and has called for further integration into the EU. PSOE also favoured the negotiations between the government and ETA during the 2006 "cease-fire", which de-facto ended with the Barajas Airport terrorist attack.

On 9 March 2008 the PSOE won the 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.


  • 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. Some barons are Pasqual Maragall (Catalonia), who didn't run for re-election in 2006; Juan Carlos Rodríguez Ibarra (Extremadura), who has also announced that he will not run in his region's next elections; Manuel Chaves (Andalucia), Third Vice President of the Spanish Government; José Montilla (Catalonia); Enrique Barón was a PSOE minister for Industry, the surname is a coincidence. The term baron is more colloquial than official, representing the great power than these persons have in the party.
  • Compañero ("companion"): A term of address among Socialists, similar to the English term 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).

Notable members

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "History of PSOE" (in Spanish). PSOE own site. Retrieved 2007-07-11. 
  2. ^ Kowalski, Werner. Geschichte der sozialistischen arbeiter-internationale: 1923 - 19. Berlin: Dt. Verl. d. Wissenschaften, 1985. p. 325

External links



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