THE leader of Spain’s Socialists, Pedro Sanchez, has resigned after losing a vote triggered by a party revolt.
Sanchez became party leader in 2014 and has presided over a slump in PSOE support.
His departure could pave the way for the formation of a new government and end a nine-month political deadlock.
Sanchez had been in a stand-off with acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s PP, frustrating attempts to form a government.
Members of the divided Socialist assembly met on Saturday to decide whether to open up a leadership race in October, as proposed by Sanchez, or oust him.
Sanchez eventually lost by 132 votes to 107 after a ten-hour debate.
Later Sanchez told a news conference, “Today, following a day of intense debates, a vote was held on whether a party conference should take place on October 23 so that the grassroots could pick their leader… Unfortunately, I have lost this vote and I have resigned as secretary general of the party.”
Susana Diaz, head of the Andalucia region is the favourite to replace Sanchez.
Party sources say she is already leading 17 rebel executives who resigned earlier this week in a bid to unseat Sanchez and avoid a third election that the party has almost no chance of winning.
The 41-year-old plumber’s daughter would be the first woman to lead the party since it was founded 137 years ago and the first woman to lead any major political party in Spain.
Her supporters say she is more pragmatic than Sanchez and already has a track record of reaching cross-party compromises having been chief of Andalucia – Spain’s most populous autonomous community – for the past eight years.