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Spanish Socialist leader takes his message of change to Washington

Pedro Sánchez tells Democrats only his party can implement radical democracy in Spain

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Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez at the Spanish embassy in Washington. EFE

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez on Thursday explained his “proposals for radical democracy” to former and current US government officials.

On day two of his trip to Washington, D.C., Sánchez told former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright about his plans to address Spaniards’ disaffection with their political class.

In statements to the press following the meeting, which took place at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Sánchez said the goal of the event was to “talk about democracy and about the democratic reforms that many European countries need to improve their democratic participation.”

Sánchez’s goal was to explain his party’s“alternatives” to “the misunderstood austerity” applied in Spain

The Socialist leader detailed some of his party’s proposals, including “a limit on the prime minister’s terms in office, open voting lists and an overhaul of the entire voting system.”

Also on Thursday, Sánchez and two economic aides met with leaders of the Center for American Progress (PAC), a think tank with ties to the Democrats.

“It is important to introduce Pedro so they will get to know him personally and also get to know his economic proposals,” said Juan Moscoso del Prado, the Socialist speaker on economic affairs in the Spanish Congress, who traveled with Sánchez to Washington.

Although Thursday’s visits concentrated on politics, the main focus of the two-day trip was economic issues. Sánchez’s goal was to explain the Socialist Party’s “alternatives” to “the misunderstood austerity” that has been applied in Spain and other European countries in recent years.

The day before, Sánchez met US President Barack Obama’s chief economic advisor, Jason Furman, and International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde.

The Socialist leader also visited Spanish scientists at Georgetown University and discussed economics and politics with a group of Latin American political science students who bombarded him with questions about Podemos, Spain’s new anti-austerity party that is threatening to take votes away from both the Socialists and the ruling conservative Popular Party.

“Podemos is a lesson that I know very well,” said a smiling Sánchez. The party, he said, feeds off “the disaffection and indignation” of Spanish society, but “has yet to turn that disaffection into proposals.”

“The only party that can guarantee a change in Spain is the Socialist Party,” he ended.

Sánchez said he was coming away from the trip with “a very good feeling.”

“They listened to what we had to say,” he said. It remains to be seen whether Washington bought into his message.