Who is: Susana Diaz
In one sentence, make it snappy: Buxom blonde, born in ’74, mother of one, Real Betis fan and a former cosmetics saleswoman, Susana Diaz is the current President of the Junta de Andalucia.
Yes, but isn’t she also… Yes, just this last week Mrs. Diaz has announced she will be campaigning to become the first ever female leader of the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE).
Who are otherwise known as: the ailing giant of Spanish Politics.
Because: Like their Labour Party counterparts across the Canal de la Mancha, PSOE flopped spectacularly at the last general election, gaining less than a quarter of the vote. Their despised Partido Popular rivals wiped the floor with them, while upstart populistas feasted on their disemboweled guts and nacionalistas burgled their homes, rifled through their drawers, tried their knickers on and soiled their favourite rug.
Never understood the need to do that. Then there was PSOE's shambolic campaign to block the PP from gaining the support it needed to form a coalition government, enabling Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy to portray the party as a sulking villainous obstacle to democratic progress. Sánchez was then forced out as Secretary-General of the party, but has since returned with an angrier message, a nice, brown leather jacket and renewed support among party members, particularly in Catalonia.
What? He’s not finished? No! And now, Diaz will wade into this mess, facing a fight with Sánchez and the former Lendakari (Basque President) Patxi Lopez, in a difficult-to-call party leadership contest which could well rival La Liga’s Real/Barça/Atleti dogfight, and Season Eight of Juego de Tronos for the public’s attention.
Politics, the new football? Absolutely.
Back to Diaz. What's she all about? As yet untainted by the corruption scandals raging on within her party, Diaz is all about barge-poling herself from the party politics of the past; leaving behind the murky residual obsessions of the Post-Franco Transición years and finding a bold new direction away from the variable meteorology of the party’s identity/confidence crisis. Like former PSOE chieftan Jose Luis Zapatero – who is a staunch supporter of hers - she believes in adapting the Party ideology into whatever it takes to fashion a decisive, winning message.
And that message is? Over to cheerleader Zapatero, who says: ‘Social Democracy has to explain, be ambitious, win and be proud of all it represents, as it has been the ideology which has made the biggest difference for the neediest in our society.’ The former presi, a firm believer in the repetition of certain cycles in politics, cites the burgeoning popularity of Germany’s Social Democrat candidate Martin Schulz as a reason to believe that socialism is not on the road to insignificance, despite the rise of the alt-right and populism.
Desahucios y desafios: One of Diaz’s key interventions as the Andalucian leader has been the championing of anti-desahucios legislation, which led to the expropriation of empty properties that had been seized by banks following up unpaid mortgages. Now she must convince party members she’s the one to find a solution for the large-scale desahucio of the Partido Socialista - another victim of the Economic Crisis of ’08 - from the corridors of power in Moncloa.
Diaz, on herself: ‘...(Rivals) are scared of me because I win elections…’ '...I come from a caste of plumbers...' '...I'm from down below and on the left...'
i'll know where to look out for her then. Diaz, on PSOE: ‘Spain cannot afford to have a PSOE which is rudderless, divided and offers no solution for the majority of socialists in this country.’
On Podemos: ‘They have a glass jaw and a steel fist…they’ll take us to international isolation, el corralito (freezing of financial assets) and Venezuelan inflation.’’
Sounds fun. On the PP: ‘They must be returned when they belong, to opposition.’
Dismissive! On Sánchez: ‘You will not hear me talking about previous leaders.’
Diaz, remaining doubt, according to Pùblico: ‘…she has created a very populist profile which succeeds in small towns and rural areas, but inspires distrust among the younger, modern, urban socialists.’