Viewing cable 04MADRID961, WHO ARE THE SPANISH SOCIALISTS?
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|04MADRID961||2004-03-18 18:06||2010-12-07 12:12||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Madrid|
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MADRID 000961 SIPDIS DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/WE NSC FOR FRIED AND VOLKER E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/18/2014 TAGS: PREL PGOV SP PSOE SUBJECT: WHO ARE THE SPANISH SOCIALISTS? REF: A. MADRID 881 ¶B. MADRID 919 ¶C. MADRID 812 Classified By: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Carol J. Urban, reasons 1.4(B) and (D). ¶1. (C) Summary: The Socialist Workers Party of Spain (PSOE), surprise victor in March 14 elections, is a center-left party in the European social democrat tradition. Since the end of the Franco regime and the beginning of Spain's modern democracy in 1977, PSOE has generally advocated comprehensive social programs and limited defense spending, as well as a reduced domestic role for the armed forces. In practical terms, members of Zapatero's inner circle have been careful to say PSOE will make no significant changes to the Aznar government's successful economic policies. We expect static or reduced defense spending under PSOE, increased social welfare programs, more "green" environment policies, a greater focus on Spain's role in the EU (including increased adherence to French and German leadership), and distancing from the Spain's close relationship with the United States that Aznar fostered. End summary. --------------------- Mainstream Socialists --------------------- ¶2. (SBU) Founded more than 120 years ago, the PSOE espouses as its main goals liberty, equality, solidarity and social justice. Communists broke with the Socialists after the 1917 Russian revolution and formed their own party (now the United Left, or IU). PSOE renounced any connection with Marxism in 1979, reaffirming the democratic and federal nature of the party. Since the end of the Franco regime and the beginning of modern Spanish democracy in 1977, PSOE has advocated comprehensive social programs, limited defense spending and a reduced role for the military in Spanish life. ¶3. (SBU) The Socialists governed Spain with Felipe Gonzalez as President from 1982-1996. Though the Socialists lost power in 1996 amidst a swirl of corruption scandals, Gonzalez is credited with having strengthened the foundations of Spanish democracy and governmental institutions during his time as head of government. Spain joined the European Community and, in a national referendum, reaffirmed its membership in NATO under Gonzalez, a position PSOE had originally opposed. Gonzalez called the latter a "triumph of the people of Spain." The Socialist government under Gonzalez also updated Spain's agreement with the United States for American use of Spanish military bases. --------------- Zapatero's PSOE --------------- ¶4. (C) President-elect Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero took over as PSOE's secretary general in 2000, narrowly edging out party "baron" Jose Bono. In 2003 the party issued a resolution outlining its political program designed "to increase freedom and the decision-making power of ordinary citizens over their own lives; to reduce crime; to allow citizens to develop their talents and abilities to the fullest; and to ensure individuals are not abandoned to their own fate." Following is a summary of PSOE positions in major issue areas: -- Foreign Policy: See Ref A for a discussion of PSOE's likely foreign policy goals. PSOE's general foreign policy outlook was summarized well by Manuel Marin, the party's international affairs spokesman in Congress: "Aznar wanted to make Spain a great nation among the great nations, but Spain lacks the means and capacity for that role. Spain cannot be a determinative force in great international conflicts. We do not have the political or economic weight for that, nor the internal security and defense capabilities that would be necessary." In general, we expect PSOE to conduct more of its foreign policy via Brussels and to hew closer to Franco-German positions. Zapatero's comments have also indicated he plans to distance Spain from the close relations the U.S. enjoyed under the Aznar government. -- Economy: The outlines of PSOE's economic platform are in Ref C. Close associates of Zapatero have been careful to say that the incoming PSOE government will not make significant changes to the PP's successful economic policies. Some business leaders have voiced the same expectations with us. PSOE will work to decrease unemployment (currently over 11 percent and one of the highest in the EU) and convert jobs on temporary contracts (currently one-third of new jobs created) into permanent positions which carry full benefits. President-elect Zapatero has stated his government will focus significant attention on calming the rapid rise in housing prices and has already announced the creation of a Ministry of Housing. The PSOE also advocates more investment in R&D and training for workers. They have promised to simplify the tax system, resulting in decreased taxes for many Spaniards, while maintaining a balanced budget and fiscal discipline. -- Social Programs and Issues: PSOE has pledged to: include more health services in the nation's health plan and reduce the maximum wait time for operations; increase pensions and improve health care for the aged; raise the minimum wage; lengthen legally mandated paternity leave; change the civil code to allow gay marriages; mandate gender-based affirmative action for government jobs; and devote more attention to the problem of domestic violence. -- Education: Zapatero has said PSOE will lengthen the school day, increase bilingual education (one-third of classes will be taught in English), improve computer access, and increase grants for students who go on to higher education. -- Environment: We can anticipate more "green" environment policies. PSOE officials have made clear they plan to scrap the PP's hugely controversial north-south water transfer plan, replacing it with a new water policy to be based on better water management, increased reliance on underground water supplies and greater investment in desalination. PSOE has pledged Spain's complete compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, despite rumblings from Spanish industry that emissions cuts agreed under the EU umbrella will severely and negatively affect competitiveness. PSOE's campaign platform called for a formal moratorium on nuclear power within five years, but recent pronouncements have indicated that the party might simply deny renewal of current licenses. ¶5. (C) Zapatero has not explained how he plans to pay for increased social programs while cutting taxes at the same time, except to suggest he may trim defense spending to pay part of the bill. His inner circle have suggested some revenues may come through greater government efficiencies, without specifying programs or jobs that would be eliminated. ------- Comment ------- ¶6. (C) PSOE is a mainstream European socialist party. Although Zapatero has led PSOE for four years, he has never held a government position, and since PSOE has been out of power for eight years, neither have many of those around him (see Ref B for a discussion those surrounding Zapatero). PSOE and Zapatero will have a steep learning curve to climb upon taking power. Given the need to appeal to his large anti-war constituency, Zapatero will distance Spanish foreign policy from Aznar's close relations with the U.S. Nonetheless, we are hopeful that once PSOE grasps that it has won and Zapatero is in office, Zapatero will come to realize that while he may have differences with the U.S., it is still in Spain's interest to cooperate with us on a number of issues. ARGYROS