The new leader of the Socialist Party (PSOE) in Spain, Pedro Sanchez has promised that he will get the country back on its feet.
He made the statement in front of a packed house of over 3,000 party delegates, on the final day of the Extraordinary Congress held in Madrid last Sunday.
Until just a few months ago Sanchez, a 42 year old economist, was virtually unknown but in the recent leadership contest to replace Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, he polled 49 percent of the votes cast by 130,000 party members putting clear distance between himself and Basque lawmaker Eduardo Madina, who finished second with 36 percent. That primary result was also ratified on Saturday at the same extraordinary congress.
During his inaugural speech, Sanchez said he was "exasperated, angry, hurt" after six years of "unprecedented" economic crisis but that he would lead the party back to power and get the crisis-hit country "back on track".
He also vowed that he would scrap a labour law reform introduced by the ruling Popular Party that makes it cheaper and easier to fire workers.
A tall, married father of two nicknamed "El Guapo" or "The Handsome One", Sanchez has cast himself as a fresh face for the party and would appear to be a credible challenger to the conservative Popular Party (PP) which ousted the Socialists from power in a crushing November 2011 election defeat.
With General elections due next year Sanchez has to overcome criticism of how their last government handled an economic crisis sparked by the collapse of a property boom in 2008 that has left one in four out of work.
While Sanchez’s election to the leadership of the party by a wide margin was a relief for the Socialists, who had feared a divisive, and potentially confrontational contest, political analysts said it was too soon to tell whether he can reverse the party’s fortunes.
"Pedro’s Sanchez’s election is a breath of fresh air for the Socialists. But as of now it is nothing more than that," political analyst Carlos Elordi wrote in an opinion article published recently in a daily newspaper.
"Nothing guarantees that it will last. The Socialists’ many problems can drown him within weeks," he said.
Sanchez has a master’s degree in politics and economics from a Belgian university. He served as a top aide to the head of a UN high representative during the war in Kosovo.
Last Monday Sanchez met with Mariano Rayoy, at the Moncloa Palace, where the country’s leader expressed the importance and his intention that the pair maintain fluid and on-going dialogue on the various issues of common interest.
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