The separation was not accidental. [Santiago Carrillo] and [Gerardo Iglesias] do not march together any more. They are in fact bitter enemies. Iglesias, selected as secretary general two years ago by Carrillo himself, has purged Carrillo from all positions of influence and power in the party.
This terrible showing put so much pressure on Carrillo that he resigned, making way for his protege Iglesias. Carrillo obviously hoped that Iglesias might be something of a puppet. That hope faded and, in a matter of months, Carrillo was attacking his successor.
Even more important, neither the Communists nor anyone else in Spain foresaw the enormous popularity of Prime Minister [Felipe Gonzalez], the young leader of the Socialist Party. Gonzalez was a little-known labor lawyer when [Francisco Franco] died in 1976. Within a few years, his dynamic campaigning attracted huge crowds and many votes, and the Communists soon found that the Socialists were winning over most of the voters of the left and almost as many of the center. There was little left for the Communists.