ECONOMIST Pedro Sanchez, 42, has been elected as the PSOE’s new secretary general, with 48.5% of the vote.

His rival for the role, Eduardo Madina, scored 36% of the vote, and former MP Jose Antonio Perez Tapias collected just over 15%.

Nearly 200,000 of the party’s members placed their votes across the country yesterday.

Sanchez’s success is based on his down-to-earth image, in a period of strong anti-politics feeling across post-crisis Spain.

“I am a rank-and-file activist. A year and a half ago I was not a politician,” he said.

“My own equipment is my Peugeot 407, in which I have driven 40,000km in the past eight months, and my allies are the road and party activisits.”

Known as El Guapo – the handsome one – voters see Sanchez as a fresh face for the party.

Although previously relatively unknown in Spanish politics, Sanchez served with the UN during the war in Kosovo, and as a non-elected regional deputy in Madrid.