The question is repeated among leaders and deputies from all over Spain. From Madrid to Andalusia, Galicia or Castilla y León. “How did they get here?”. The open war to control the PP in Madrid is not only the biggest internal crisis that Pablo Casado has faced as national president. Nor is it just a pulse against the national leadership. It is a much more delicate matter, which transcends the usual intrigues within parties, internal struggles and the management of egos. It is a personal matter, which has damaged a friendship of many years and that for those involved has turned to pain and disappointment.
This alone explains the dimension that the conflict has acquired —today unsolvable— and that, although it is compared with others that occurred before (Gallardón and Aguirre or Cospedal and Sáenz de Santamaría) makes a correct diagnosis difficult. And without diagnosis, some veteran leaders agree, there is no possible solution.
In the crisis in Madrid many things from the past are mixed. Married and Isabel Díaz Ayuso became friends almost two decades ago. Were the ‘Esperanza Boys’ next to Ana Camins, Ángel Carromero, and others like Diego Sanjuanbenito (today Casado’s chief of staff) or German Alcayde, which also went through New generations. The current national president landed as leader of the popular youth in 2005. Working in the cabinet of José María Aznar, he traveled half the world until he began his career as a national deputy in 2011, already with Mariano Rajoy. At that time the friendship with the rest of the group of New Generations was consolidated a lot. Hence, until almost a year ago, everyone insisted on emphasizing that they were “a pineapple”.
When the problems with Ayuso, during the president’s political boom, began to emerge, the answer was always the same. Especially from the Casado environment: “They are not going to separate. They are not going to fight. They are very friendly. This is not going to affect them ”. In the end it happened. Some people trusted by the president wonder if they should have tried to “stop everything before”.
In the Madrid Assembly and in the popular leadership they began to appreciate “gestures” and “movements” long ago. Ayuso’s national agenda was increasing and there were “counterprogramming” that many criticized in the training. Casado insisted that absurd conflicts could not be opened, he denied the “gossip” and maintained a direct thread with the president who a few weeks ago was cut off radically.
The beginning and arrival of MAR
Casado named Ayuso a candidate for the Community in 2019 with a broken party in Madrid. The case of Cristina Cifuentes and the march of Esperanza Aguirre (after staying in the opposition and Manuela Carmena arrived at the Palacio de Cibeles), added to the motion of censure that removed the PP from Moncloa, left the formation shattered.
The pools shot up and half of Rajoy’s former ministers came to sound like candidates. In the end, the president (who had only been in office for a few months) bet on two strangers. Ayuso’s candidacy, like that of José Luis Martínez Almeida to a lesser extent, raised blisters in all sectors of the PP. It wasn’t just the barons. Also the PP of Madrid, many mayors of the Community, deputies in Congress. Even Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo said it was “reckless”, although she later changed her mind. Already in the electoral campaign Miguel Angel Rodriguez he was very active. He participated in the meetings of the first plant in Genoa and the sanhedrines were common in his house. Not only Ayuso came, but other people from the Madrid PP with whom he cannot even see each other today.
Ayuso managed to govern with the worst result that the PP had ever obtained from the hand of Ciudadanos. It was summer 2019 and the friendship with Casado was still intact. In January, the president of the Community officially signed Rodríguez as chief of staff, with the aim of stopping the orange party in the coalition. The pandemic did not take long to arrive. The hard months continued. Ayuso’s management was openly questioned, also by PP leaders. It was a long time in which the regional president “She felt and was very lonely”, as they remember in their environment, hinting that Genoa did not give its support in some moments either.
The vision in the national direction is the opposite. Also in the PP in Madrid. They both insist that during those months Married stuck his head out for her always and he even accompanied her in decisions that were questioned on all sides. “That has already been forgotten. Or they have made him forget it ”, commented different leaders.
It is true that in the summer of 2020 two simultaneous electoral campaigns were held: that of the Basque Country and that of Galicia, where Feijóo obtained his fourth absolute majority. Ayuso was not invited to participate in events that were very strange in themselves, in the middle of the pandemic. “Married kept turning to her in those days. He participated in events in Madrid despite the campaigns and was with her knowing that the situation was complicated and that in other territories they did not have it”, They insist within the PP.
When everything went wrong
After weeks in which the internal anger of the Madrid government did not stop (Ciudadanos even held bilateral meetings with the Ministry of Health and publicly disagreed with Ayuso’s decisions), in October the central government decreed a specific and unilateral state of alarm for the region Madrid. From that moment, some popular leaders coincide, the president of the Community got empowered and started a climb that has no end yet. His opposition work against Sánchez intensified and his national agenda grew nonstop.
He had previously threatened with an electoral advance chasing the government alone that he achieved after the May elections. The motion of censure in Murcia accelerated the situation and gave him an opportunity that he did not miss. The success was more than evident. The electoral victory of 4-M (very close to the absolute majority) gave him stripes within the PP, positioning himself as the fashionable policy, a claim within the party and a ‘baroness’ with power (although organically it is not clear what will happen).
The roads gradually grew apart. The blame, say the two parties, “of the surroundings.” In Genoa they insist that “there is only one guilty environment” which is that of the president’s chief of staff. In recent months there have been several situations that exhausted Casado’s patience. One was Ayuso’s American tour coinciding with the national convention that the president had been waiting for so long. “That she does this to him does not make sense. She is her friend. Not like the rest of the regional presidents ”, someone very close to the leadership says. In the midst of the anger over the PP in Madrid despite the fact that the president had insisted on not opening that melon ahead of time.
The friendship of so long turned into mistrust, then in anger and, right now, in break. Regardless of whether it can be recovered in the future, what is happening now between Genoa and Puerta del Sol is now only political. There are no friends, no memories in what they achieved together being in New Generations. No family moments, no party nights, no shared confessions. It’s politics and a pulse for power that will last.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.