Isabel Díaz Ayuso wants everything: the presidency of the Community and that of the PP of Madrid. That ambition, made official this Friday, has put José Luis Martínez Almeida, mayor of the capital, and the circle closest to Pablo Casado on guard. The PP of Madrid contributes a vital number of affiliates and delegates to decide who is the national president of the party. Leading it involves designing the electoral lists for the region. And controlling it allows influencing the internal troubles of a formation that has already lost two general elections with Casado as a candidate. Once Díaz Ayuso has shown his cards and launched his candidacy – “I have the necessary support,” he said yesterday, running for the first time in public – war drums sound in the PP. And this despite the fact that there is still no date for the decisive battle.
Ayuso launches an ordeal and is nominated as leader of the PP in Madrid: “We must return normality to the party”
Casado prepares for the rising wave of Díaz Ayuso
“Being president gives you control of the party, of the appointment of senators, of the delegates, of the lists … but to use the argument that Díaz Ayuso overshadows Casado is to have the desire to entangle,” says a PP politician of those who have command in place. “Between them there are many years of trust. Their loyalty is bomb-proof, ”he adds. “The strange thing is the changes of opinion of others, like Teo. Is it because they can’t control it?
Teo is Teodoro García-Egea, the general secretary of the PP. In the spring, he said that the neutrality required by his position prevented him from speaking out in favor of a candidate. In June he showed his “total support” for the hypothetical candidacy of Díaz Ayuso. And this Wednesday he defended the maintenance of the current structure, with separate institutional and organic power. “The current model works,” he said about a formula that avoids concentrating all key decisions in one person.
Genoa defends that institutional and organic power are separated
However, there have already been frictions with the present structure, which has Díaz Ayuso in Sol, Martínez-Almeida in Cibeles, and Pío García-Escudero at the head of the PP in Madrid, on the first floor of Genoa. The president’s team conveyed to the party its disagreement with various decisions of the last electoral campaign. Díaz Ayuso herself was upset that the formation prioritized the leak that Toni Cantó would be included in its list over the announcement that the Minister of Health, Enrique Ruiz-Escudero, would be its number two. Finally, the victory celebration aroused tensions: the president’s environment understood that only Díaz Ayuso and Casado should leave the balcony of Genoa, despite the fact that García-Egea and Martínez-Almeida, among others, finally joined.
“It is true that there has been tension between the teams [de Casado y Díaz Ayuso], but it has been downward, the relationship between Pablo and Isabel has been preserved “, assures a source who knows both of them well.
“We must return normality to the party,” Diaz Ayuso defended yesterday, who recalled that the regional presidents of Andalusia, Galicia, Castilla y León and Murcia also lead their respective regional organizations.
Why is replicating that model in Madrid causing so much tension? Due to the need to seek “balance”, answers a veteran of the PP. Or put another way. The difference is that Madrid, with thousands of militants, is very much Madrid: it can decisively influence the election of the next national president of the PP. And Díaz Ayuso, with his popular pull, is a lot of Díaz Ayuso: if he wanted, at this moment, he could aspire to everything in the PP, everyone recognizes in the formation. But the organic control of the party is the first step that must be overcome.
The hypothetical assault on national power
The accession of the baroness to the presidency of the PP in Madrid would produce an explosive cocktail that could take the party back to the times of Esperanza Aguirre, who in 2008 threatened to challenge Mariano Rajoy for power. Although the election system has changed since then – there are now a kind of indirect primaries – the guiding principle is the same. Leading the party in Madrid is an indispensable condition for a hypothetical assault on national power that Díaz Ayuso has always ruled out.
“And the problem that the presidency of the PP of Madrid achieves is that it happens as with Esperanza, that the two parties, party and government, are confused, and that both remain at his service,” says a politician with command in place, worried because the hypothetical concentration of power ends up locking the current leader in a bunker to which only her closest collaborators have access.
In addition, there is a sector of the PP in Madrid that sees with concern that Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, the powerful chief of staff of Díaz Ayuso, gains the capacity to influence to remove and put whoever he wants on the electoral lists of 2023. There is no greater power in a party to decide who has a public salary, nor greater difficulty in setting up teams tailored to their leader than having to accept that the lists are made by someone else. Hence the reference that Díaz Ayuso included on Friday, when he announced his candidacy: “The mayor [Martínez-Almeida] you are going to have all your hands free ”.
It was an attempt to temper spirits. Will Martínez-Almeida take the step of competing with Díaz Ayuso? As number three of the formation, the predictable thing is that he does what Casado decides, as he has done so far. But he has always defended the current model: a president dedicated exclusively to the party, and away from institutional power, to maintain the balance between the City Council and the Community. In this context, there are leaders who have toyed with the idea of promoting the candidacy of the general secretary of the PP in Madrid, Ana Camins.
“And after 4-M, the leaderships of Díaz Ayuso and Almeida, with all the good that the mayor does, are not comparable,” intercedes a supporter of the regional president.
Perhaps that is why the national leadership has dedicated itself to letting time pass to cool the matter with an effort that has surprised more than one in the PP. There is no date for the Madrid congress. The only thing that is known is that it will foreseeably be in the middle of 2022. A decision that has caused annoyance in the ayusista current of the PP, where they see no reasons to postpone a pending conclave since the resignation of Cristina Cifuentes, which was in 2018.
“It is not time to talk about Congress, there is much left,” they repeat from the national leadership, whose members observe with dismay that the debate on the future of Díaz Ayuso is overshadowing the national convention that the party will organize to relaunch Casado, at the end of the month. And that, in addition, coincides with the official trip of the Madrid president to the United States, scheduled for months.
The leader, meanwhile, does not speak. The most that has come has been to equate the worth of Díaz Ayuso and Martínez-Almeida in an informative breakfast, last Wednesday. A way of leaving the door open for the councilor to compete for the position, or to find an alternative for which he may need more time.
“Pablo has been very generous, he has gotten out of the way, and has given everything to Isabel,” described a source about the last electoral campaign, in which Casado gave the leading role to Díaz Ayuso. “But that’s it,” said this interlocutor, concluding the stage in which the national training structure has been at the service of the candidate. And about the sweet moment of Díaz Ayuso in front of Casado, he warned: “This is so now, but it will not be forever.”
Meanwhile, Díaz Ayuso measures the times. With Casado focused on the national convention, and Díaz Ayuso concentrating on carrying out his first Budgets for the Community of Madrid, the PP holds its breath.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.