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Rubalcaba’s challenge goes beyond “Listen, do, explain”

The interior minister is about to outline the Socialist Party’s direction ahead of the general election campaign. The coming months will be a difficult challenge for even this wily political survivor.


"Listen, do, explain": the next few months will test Rubalcaba's renowned political mettle.

On Saturday, July 9, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba will be formally declared the Socialist Party candidate for the next general election. By the party’s own admission, this is a watershed moment. The interior minister is unlikely to offer concrete policy detail, but he is expected to outline the direction he intends to take the party as the vote nears.

“Listen, do, explain,” is his slogan for the coming months. It’s banal and fairly meaningless, but then most such slogans are. The real challenge for him will be to navigate a political course that distances him from the burnt-out image of his boss (and still party leader) José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero without looking too cynical in doing so.

A cynical, scheming Rasputin is how his enemies like to portray Rubalcaba. That may be an exaggeration, but he has needed an enormous amount of political skill to remain a credible figure. Not only was he a minister at the tail-end of Felipe González’s corruption-tainted administration, but he has also been the most visible figure in the Zapatero government of recent months, as a deeply unpopular reform program has been rolled out.

His ability to thrive despite these circumstances, and remain relatively popular, made Rubalcaba the obvious choice for the Socialist Party when it came to choosing a candidate to chase the Popular Party’s large poll lead. He will now have to draw heavily on that well of acumen as he sets the party’s electoral course for the coming months.

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Published: Jul 8 2011
Category: Iberoblog, Featured
Republication: Creative Commons, non-commercial
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