This Friday, historical members of Spanish socialism have once again charged against the President of the Government and Secretary General of his party, Pedro Sánchez. The voices of the so-called “old guard” that have spoken in the last week, after the debacle of the PSOE in the regional and municipal elections of 28-M, are not new. In fact, the criticism against the leader of the formation by his colleagues is a trend that has been repeated since he was founded in the Casa Labra tavern in Madrid in 1879.
Pablo Iglesias Posse was the first victim of this chronic division that the PSOE has suffered in its 144-year history and that has affected the party in the Restoration, the Second Republic, in exile during the Franco dictatorship and in democracy. In very few periods of its history, the formation has been free from internal attacks and has shown the unity that the right wing in Spain habitually boasts of. The confrontation of those first years was based on whether they should ally themselves with the republican organizations, as many of the founding members opined against Iglesias’s position.
For their part, the arguments put forward by the socialists who are critical of Pedro Sánchez at present are not new, especially those that refer to the approach of the current President of the Government and General Secretary of the formation to the Catalan and Basque independence groups such as ERC and EH Bildu, both fundamental in the legislature that is now coming to an abrupt end, after the electoral advance. As we can see, the possible alliances with other parties and organizations were the main points of friction.
In the same way, those who amend the current leadership from their past as party leaders are very critical of the approach to the coalition partner, United We Can. Even more, with the forms that the purple formation has imposed on the current socialist leadership, as was made clear in the speech that Sánchez gave before the socialist senators and deputies on Wednesday. In his address, the president denounced a pseudo-conspiracy against him and pointed out, in the purest style of the current Pablo Iglesias, the media as inducers of a “fierce” campaign against him.
republic or not
The former leader of the PSE, Nicolás Redondo Terreros, son of the historic leader of the General Union of Workers (UGT), has gone further and alluded to the same speech by Sánchez: “My party has begun a discursive era very similar to that of the years thirty”, something that he described as worrying because “the 21st century is not the 20th and we do not need to repeat that confrontational discourse”. He even described his intervention as “unbearable” and also criticized the three-minute “Soviet applause” offered by the deputies and senators to the President of the Government
Times, it seems, have not changed that much. That May 2, 1879, in addition to Pablo Iglesias, at Casa Labra were Jaime Vera, Antonio García Quejido, Emilio Cortes and a small group of intellectuals and workers among whom, during the first months of life, there were more differences than agreements. when defining the strategy to follow. Finally, the group that rejected any type of alliance with the republican organizations prevailed, in what was the first crack of the socialists.
The gap was reflected in the writings of Iglesias himself, in which he defended that the notions of international socialism were not applicable to the reality of Spain, because the concept of “capitalism” against which Marxism fought was not yet fully implanted in Spain. our country. However, this ideological struggle lasted for years and pitted those who wanted the party to use official institutions to grow against those who thought that improvements for the working class could only come about through revolution.
revolution or not
As the latter prevailed, the PSOE remained a small formation without representation in Parliament until, in 1910, they changed their minds and decided to ally with the progressive republicans to enter Congress. Pablo Iglesias was then elected deputy, thirty years after the founding of the party, although that did not bring stability either. The founder failed to unite his colleagues despite his ability to spread messages in the press. He had been writing for it since he began collaborating at the age of 11 in ‘La Iberia’, a progressive liberal newspaper, and later in ‘La Emancipación’, among others, with articles in which he defended the idea of grouping the entire Spanish proletariat under Marxist ideology.
With the Russian revolution of 1917, which gave way to the Soviet Union and the idea that that regime could be transferred to Spain, the division became even deeper. The Soviets altered everything. They led many PSOE leaders, such as Daniel Anguiano, Antonio García Quejido, Virginia González, Manuel Núñez Arenas and Óscar Pérez Solís –the latter an eternal defector who later joined the Falange and fought alongside Franco– to believe that they should join the Third International called by Lenin and abandon the opportunism of Iglesias.
Four years later, these same socialists staged one of the most important events in the history of the PSOE. In 1921 they split and founded the Communist Party of Spain (PCE). According to historian Julio Aróstegui, it was “one of the most important assemblies held by Spanish socialism in the 20th century.” This division favored the socialists despite seeing their forces diminished, because during the Primo de Rivera dictatorship, which was established in 1923, the PSOE became the only party that was allowed to remain legal.
The last crisis of Iglesias
This produced the last division that Pablo Iglesias lived through, who was already 73 years old at that time. Two factions were formed within the party: on the one hand, Largo Caballero and Andrés Saborit, who were in favor of collaborating with the dictatorship to allow the union to function, and on the other, Fernando de los Ríos and Indalecio Prieto, who were against it. . The chronicles of the time say that they even came to a physical confrontation. This crisis ended with the resignation of the latter from the Executive Commission, which led the formation to condemn the coup, but not to mobilize against it.
Pablo Iglesias, who was opposed to collaborating with the dictatorship in what was his last crisis within the PSOE, died in 1925 and was buried in the Madrid Civil Cemetery. 150,000 supporters attended his funeral.
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