“It’s my truth,” the socialist leader said of his work of non-fiction, Manual de Resistencia (‘Manual of Resistance’) in which he describes his political rise and fall and rise again and compares his rollercoaster ride with the people of Spain who have ‘suffered during the financial crisis’.
Voted head of his party, then with a second-chance presidential vote on the cards after his immediate rival, Mariano Rajoy of the right-wing PP, scraped through the election with the most ballots but in a minority and was unable to gain support, Sánchez was on the threshold of leadership of Spain when his would-be supporters, left-wing Podemos, voted him down.
He was then forced to stand down from running the party, becoming ‘just another subscriber’, but a later in-house election saw him voted back as its leader.
A no-confidence vote against the PP in June last year meant Sánchez finally gained the keys to the Moncloa, Spain’s answer to the Whitehouse or 10 Downing Street, but failure to gain opposition support for his 2019 budget – his party’s holding fewer than a quarter of all seats in Parliament – meant he has felt compelled to call a snap election on April 28.
The rollercoaster is not over yet since the PP is now headed up by the hard-right Pablo Casado, centrists Ciudadanos has begun leaning much farther to the right, and alt-right party Vox has gained 12 seats out of 110 in Andalucía’s regional Parliament and plans to stand for the general election.
Meanwhile, Podemos is in crisis with conflicts between key members – within less than a year, Spain has gone from having a majority centre-left opposition to a larger majority hard-right opposition.
His ‘Resistance Manual’ tells the full tale, Sánchez revealed in the book’s unveiling this week.
During his speech, he said he was quietly confident about the results of the elections, but with Spanish leadership no longer merely a battle between the ‘big two’ establishment parties and much more fragmented, a win could still see the socialists governing in a minority.
Despite frequent confrontations when they were on opposing sides and Sánchez’s having been behind the no-confidence vote against his party, the president speaks warmly of Mariano Rajoy – a man frequently criticised for lacking political strength, remaining tight-lipped, avoiding public appearance as often as possible, but who is also described by those who have met him off-duty – including popular left-leaning TV presenters – as a very decent person with an excellent sense of humour.
“I learned a lot from [Mariano Rajoy]’s enormous ‘sense of State’ – Catalunya united us,” Sánchez admits in his book.
“I also learned a lot from him with his handling of the tremendous political crisis of October 2017, and I like and respect him,” he adds, referring to the disputed independence referendum in Catalunya.
But he considers Casado’s idea of applying Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution – which would strip Catalunya of its self-governing powers – indefinitely would be ‘irresponsible’ and would deepen the conflict between the central government and Catalunya, pushing any real solution farther away.
Overall, he criticises Casado for being far-right and for ‘taking advantage’, being ‘hypocritical’ and ‘lacking responsibility’.
“Any action of this nature [applying Article 155] cannot be taken without full consensus with the main opposition party,” Sánchez writes.
The ‘recipe for resistance’ he speaks of involves ‘having convictions and knowing what you’re aiming for’, but is also about ‘trying to make ends meet on €800 a month’, referring to workers in Spain on the minimum wage.
Sánchez says he has ‘not yet had any complaints’ about his comments in the book on the former socialist leader, his predecessor Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, or on King Felipe VI, and says he gives a ‘constructive vision’ that ‘does not flee from any debate’, nor attempt to resist ‘blame’ for his ‘mistakes’, nor ‘accuse anyone of anything’.
He wrote it with the help of Irene Lozano, leader of the now-defunct centrist party Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), which is rumoured to be making a comeback in time for the general election.
Sánchez describes his party as one which is constantly ‘renewing and updating itself’ to ‘avoid becoming stuck in the past’, making it ‘the newest party in Spanish politics’, even though, in practice, it is one of the oldest in terms of years.
“In a country where second chances are stigmatised, I’m calling for a second, third, fourth and even fifth chance,” he concludes, before adding that all earnings from sales of his ‘Resistance Manual’ will fund help for the homeless.
The exact price of the book, which is likely to be in a hardback-only format for some time, is not known, but hardback new releases in Spain are typically around €19.99 to €23.99.