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Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
It has had strong ties with the Unión General de Trabajadores trade union. For decades, UGT membership was a requisite for PSOE membership. During the ruling of PSOE in the 1980s, though, UGT protested the PSOE economic policy, even calling to a general strike (14-D ) on 14 December of 1988.
It was founded in 1879 in Madrid by the historical Spanish workers' leader Pablo Iglesias. Although the PSOE was rather weak during the last years of the 19th century, its active participation in strike waves of 1899-1902 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 (Parliament).
The PSOE formed part of the Spanish Government during the second Spanish Republic (1931-1933) and as part of the Spanish Popular Front ("Frente Popular"), elected to government in 1936. During the Spanish Civil War, it divided into two wings: a leftist revolutionary, and Marxist wing, led by Francisco Largo Caballero, and a reformist wing, led by Indalecio Prieto and Julian Besteiro .
Francisco Franco banned the PSOE in 1939, and it was only legalised again in February 1977. During this time it's activities was persecuted, with many leaders and militants being imprisoned, assassinated, or they exiled.
It's XXV Congress was held in Toulouse in August 1972. In it's XXVI congress at Suresnes (France, 1974) Felipe González was elected as secretary general, replacing Rodolfo Llopis Ferrándiz . He was from the renovating wing of the party, and his victory was a defeat for the historic or veteran wing of the party. He 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 party of the opposition with 29.2% of the vote and 118 seats in the [[[Cortes Generales|Parliament]]. In their XXVII of May 1979 he resigned because the party would not abandon it's Marxist character. In September the extraordinary XXVIII was called in which González was re-elected and the party agreed to end Marxism within the party. European social democratic parties supported González stand, and the German SPD granted them money. The party symbol was changed from the anvil with the book to the Social Democratic fist with a rose . In the referendum of 1978, PSOE favoured the Spanish Constitution, which was aproved. 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 won an historic electoral victory, with 48.3% of the vote (10,000,000 in total). Felipe González became Prime Minister of Spain on December 2, remaing so until March 1996. In spite of its appearance as a party with a progressive economic program, the PSOE combined social reforms with a liberal and capitalist economic policy.
Though the party had previously opposed the NATO, after reaching the government most party leaders defended to maintain 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 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, scandals of corruption and alleged state terrorism against the Basque terrorist 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, suffering a hard defeat in 2000 (34.7%).
It still has 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, was elected, replacing Felipe González, and renewing the party. Later, the PSOE won the municipal elections of 2003.
On 13th November 2003 the PSOE won the regional election in Catalonia, through a pact with Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Republican Left of Catalonia, ERC, left-wing independentist) and Iniciativa per Catalunya (Initiative for Catalonia, ICV, left-wing).
Glossary of PSOE terms
- 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), José Luis Ibarra (Extremadura), Manuel Chaves (Andalusia). (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 communist comrade. After the social-democratization, it is out of vogue and only used during campaigns or by the most leftist socialists.
- 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).
See also: Politics of Spain
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