Ángel Gabilondo has shown an institutional profile this Wednesday at the beginning of the processing of his appointment as Ombudsman. “I must not, nor do I want to, nor can I exclude anyone, now I must not be partisan or sectarian,” he pointed out in the Congress-Senate joint committee in which he summarized a way of understanding politics that has been his main strength as far as throughout his career as a public servant. A trait that, paradoxically, became his Achilles heel by the fangless opposition that presented, in his previous stage as socialist spokesperson in the Madrid Assembly, to the Madrid president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, during his management of the pandemic.
Vox and Ciudadanos have voted against Gabilondo’s candidacy, which, backed by PSOE and PP, will now be sent for a vote in the Plenary of Parliament. Gabilondo’s approval requires a three-fifths majority in the Lower House and Senate. The former Minister of Education in the Government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero will replace Francisco Fernández Marugán at the head of the institution: his predecessor has been in office since July 2017. The deputy of the PP Teresa Jiménez Becerril will be the new deputy to the Ombudsman.
The socialist candidate for the presidency of the Community of Madrid for the last six years stayed one seat from governing in 2015 and prevailed in those of 2019, but the lack of forcefulness that he presented during the coronavirus crisis penalized him in the electoral advance of 4-M. Gabilondo resigned after the Socialists signed their worst result at the polls, in which they were surpassed by Más Madrid as the new benchmark for the left in the region. One of the factors that caused the collapse of the PSOE was the impression that Gabilondo was leaving; his designation as Ombudsman was taken for granted in the Madrid mentideros since the summer of 2020. If there was a strong name among the 20 that the PSOE and PP agreed last week to renew institutions that had been blocked for years, such as the Constitutional Court, the Court of Accounts, the Spanish Data Protection Agency and the Ombudsman himself, that was Gabilondo’s. The rest were pools.
Gabilondo has promised to continue the work of his predecessor, who despite his membership in the PSOE – he was a national deputy for two decades – has been very critical of the Pedro Sánchez government on issues such as immigration policy. “It is not only necessary for the Ombudsman to be independent,” said the applicant, who stressed that the person in charge of the institution must have “rigorous”, “well-founded”, “innovative” and “advanced” actions to achieve “respect” social and political. After highlighting that he has never been affiliated with any party and that what has led him to “be in one place or another” are his convictions, principles and values, the candidate has emphasized the importance of his future position for “defense of the rights and freedoms ”of citizens. “I understand its proper functioning insofar as it contributes to political order and social peace, as well as to the functioning of the powers of the State through the complaints of citizens,” he said.
The PP has thanked Gabilondo for his measured intervention and his commitment to combat sectarianism and the search for agreements. José Ignacio Landaluce has highlighted that the “great agreements” reinforce the institutions in the face of criticism from Vox and Ciudadanos. Even so, the popular spokesman has indicated that his party will be “vigilant.”
Vox spokesman Julio Trilla has accused Gabilondo of “sectarian” and “undemocratic”, an extreme that the candidate has denied. The representative of the far right has blamed him that in the Madrid elections last May he called for isolating the far right formation as is already the case in countries such as Germany and France. “You ask to exclude the third political force in Spain and that invalidates you as a democrat,” Trilla snapped.
On the part of Citizens, Senator José Luis Muñoz has recognized the value of Gabilondo and his dialogue profile, but his formation has voted against not to participate in the “game of distributing stickers without shame and without regard” between the PSOE and the PP.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.