The former socialist leader in the Basque region, Patxi López, has become the first person to throw his hat into the ring to take over the national leadership of the PSOE. López has called for a “return to the basics of socialism” and a hard line against the Partido Popular government.

It’s been a bad time for the PSOE in recent months, including a damaging battle for control that led to the ousting of their former leader Pedro Sánchez in October.  López, a former regional president of the Basque country, said it had been a “mistake” for PSOE to allow the formation of a minority government under Mariano Rajoy, prime minister in the autumn. The party should not provide “painkillers for the politics of the right”, Mr López told a news conference in Madrid.

Other expected candidates are the Andalucia president Susana Diaz and ex-PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez, who has been touring Spain trying to drum up support from party members. All candidates must declare by the end of March, with primaries set to take place in May. The winning candidate will be chosen in mid-June during the annual PSOE congress.

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