It is not the first time that Social Democracy in general, and the PSOE in particular, is “facing hard times”. If one reads the editorials, news and comments over the last weeks, it appears that the future of the party is going through one of its worst moments. It is true that the last two years have been one of the most negative periods in the long life of our organization. Many, practically half of our members, felt that our party was in need of a profound change, renewing people, contents and ways. What could have been a new renaissance became a Pyrrhic victory at the failed Seville congress. The new leaders did not assimilate the voices of those who did not completely share their ideas, tactics and strategies, and they have not known how to bring together the different viewpoints in the PSOE.
The results have been disastrous; defeat after defeat in the elections, until we get to the recent European elections in which general disinterest has reached a historical high. We scraped to the two-digit percentage practically by a miracle, but the trend is obvious and inescapable: either we change or we disappear. In these circumstances, the apparatus and the party members have reacted very differently. Some – those who do not wish to see a transformed party full of hope – behave with outdated practices, apocalyptical predictions and messages full of skepticism, confusion and contradictions, thereby offering up a feeling of nostalgia: “any time in the past was better”. Others wish for change, but do not feel they have the strength to get rid of commitments and pacts from the past, and they are scared to suggest any innovating solutions to the new and profound challenges that beset us. Others, although full of good intentions, lack the conviction to mobilize the majority of members with proposals for change. However, none of them have presented what, for me, is the most important factor: a new tale of Socialism for the XXI century, with a detailed program capable of offering hope and winning the trust of a society that, like the Spanish one, is disappointed and feeling disorientated by a party whose initials have crumbled over the last years, as have its main badges of identity. And, what is even more important, a party that has undermined its own ability to present innovating projects that can anticipate the future.
It would not be logical to justify the disinterest society feels towards the Socialist Party by using the excuse of the seriousness and scale of the economic and institutional crisis. We cannot justify bad results if, on one hand, we proclaim and defend our traditional ideology and, on the other, we put neoliberal pragmatism into practice. We cannot ignore the confusion we generate when, on one hand, we habitually criticize the government and, on the other, we secretly negotiate a great PP-PSOE pact.
Our constituency wants to know if, in truth, we do have an alternative, if we can really defend and apply policies for equality, if we want to fight to consolidate and propel forward a State of Well-Being, if our tax model is fair, modern and effective, if our ability to create riches will be reflected by its redistribution and more social commitment, if our immigration policies will be repressive and aimed at security or, to the contrary, they will search for alternatives by means of foreign policy and cooperation. The citizens want to know if our model for a state is truly federal and we stand strongly behind it, with conviction and not hushed whispers; if we can be a country with influence in Europe and not accept impositions that go against the interests of the majority; if we have or do not have a new vision of how to organize the political parties, and how to attract and convince the party members and supporters so they will join us, with determination, in the collective effort to rebuild this country.
All these matters, and many more, demand more time and space to be addressed in depth and, there is no possible doubt, they must be a part of this new tale that needs to be discussed and proposed by the party members, with more participation and transparency, and without the organic hindrances of the last political conference in which those voices that were not in agreement were muted.
All the candidates who, up to this moment, have expressed their desire to lead the PSOE have the abilities and leadership skills to do so, but none of them will be able to truly drive renovation if they do not manage to unite and consolidate a team, and design a program that includes everyone’s contributions. We live in a complex and uncertain society, and to answer its challenges we need leadership, comprehension and everyone’s help. We cannot make the mistakes of the Seville Congress again. We do not need any more transitions. “The PSOE must reemerge with force by listening to the voices of the citizens”, as the General Secretary of PSOE Andalusia, Susana Díaz, stated, for we are at our crossroads.