Get to Know the Spanish Socialist Workers Party: PSOE

Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain

Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain, PSOE Credit: @PSOE Twitter

The Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) is a social-democratic political party in Spain. It is the oldest active party in the country, founded in 1879. Throughout history, the PSOE has played a significant role in Spanish politics, including during the Second Spanish Republic and the Spanish Civil War. However, the party was banned under Francisco Franco’s dictatorship and was only legalised again in 1977 during the transition to democracy.

The PSOE has been in government for extended periods, making it the longest-serving party in modern democratic Spain. It was in power from 1982 to 1996 under Felipe González, from 2004 to 2011 under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, and currently since 2018 under Pedro Sánchez.

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
Credit: @PSOE

The party has strong ties with the General Union of Workers (UGT), a Spanish trade union. However, the UGT has criticised the PSOE‘s economic policies at times. Some trade unions and left-wing groups have accused the PSOE of adopting economic liberal policies, such as deregulation, privatisation, and cuts to social benefits.

The PSOE has undergone ideological shifts throughout its history. Initially, it was a Marxist party but abandoned Marxism in 1979. Since then, it has embraced a social-democratic ideology, similar to other mainstream European political parties.

The party has faced internal divisions and conflicts, particularly during the Spanish Civil War and in exile during the Francoist dictatorship. In more recent years, the PSOE has experienced leadership changes and electoral ups and downs. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero led the party from 2000 to 2012, and under his leadership, the PSOE opposed the Iraq War.

Overall, the PSOE has had a significant impact on Spanish politics, shaping the country’s social and economic policies. It remains one of the major political forces in Spain, striving to address social issues and promote progressive reforms.

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Written by

Catherine McGeer

I am an Irish writer who has been living in Spain for the past twenty years. My writing centers around the Costa Cálida. As a mother I also write about family life on the coast of Spain and every now and then I try to break down the world of Spanish politics!