Sunday, December 5

Popular Party: A decisive battle in the center-right | Spain

Pablo Casado risks his political future and mortgages that of the national PP to the attempted checkmate of Isabel Díaz Ayuso to Pedro Sánchez in Madrid. There are not many more plans. In the noblest floor of Genoa 13, the environment of the popular leader thus sums up his only strategy until the contest at the Madrid polls on May 4: “The great mistake of the Government and the Socialists has been to try to kill Ayuso at all costs and thus create a monster. And they have achieved the opposite effect ”. After a frantic week and that could be decisive for the future of the center-right in Spain, and after giving up the Murcian sainete with the frustrated motion of censure due to the three defectors of Ciudadanos, in the PP they already consider dead the formation led by Inés Arrimadas.

The ten leaders consulted by EL PAÍS coincide in this, both from Pablo Casado’s team and veterans, critics and regional barons. Many of them advise Casado not to be fooled by the peculiar political environment in Madrid and they bet that, even in the event that Ayuso engulfs all the votes and seats of Citizens, the PP does not fall into the temptation to govern at the Door del Sol with the extreme right of Vox.

After the commotion caused by the Murcian political earthquake, fear settled for a few hours in the offices of the central headquarters of the PP. And it was not just losing power in a territory as popular as Murcia, where the party’s general secretary, Teodoro García Egea, comes from, always in the spotlight; This was followed by the chain of unexpected motions of censure and, above all, the turn of events in the jewel in the crown: the Community of Madrid.

The operation, as recognized by the leadership of the PSOE, sought to disrupt Casado’s dream of recomposing the three center-right parties under his initials. Panic settled again in Casado’s team, which has lived behind the calendar and the crises since he won his leadership almost three years ago.

What they now glimpse in the PP, near Casado, in the regional baronies and in the most critical and skeptical sectors is the death of Ciudadanos as happened to the UCD. And also the complicated future relationship with Vox, especially depending on the distance Isabel Díaz Ayuso stays from the 69 seats that will mark the absolute majority in the Madrid Assembly. Until now he had only 30. All analyzes of the future of the PP go through what happens to Ayuso on May 4.

Andrea Levy, a member of the current national management committee and Casado’s roommate since Mariano Rajoy signed both of them in 2015 to try to rejuvenate his executive, explains it like this: “These regional elections are going to be totally national in scope and what The best thing for Ayuso and Casado is that she will show that she is spraying the Ciudadanos project and that the PP takes over the entire center. The message after 4-M will be the outcome of what will happen in the center-right, with Vox only on the extreme right ”.

José Luis Ayllón, Rajoy’s former chief of staff, now a political consultant, emphasizes the idea of ​​all those consulted that this week the entelechy of the merger of the three parties in the center-right space ended: “Ciudadanos was in liquidation and now It is going to disappear and the PP, which was in the middle, now could remain alone representing everything, but for that it has to show that it has the capacity to win and govern and that is still missing: no one has the feeling that if Sánchez were not there there Pablo Casado would be doing better ”, he says.

That lack, that of a solid leadership that is assumed by a transversal electorate as a true alternative to the Government of Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias, is exposed by several leaders from anonymity. But the internal criticism has been muffled enough this week after feeling in the PP attacked in an operation that they see designed from La Moncloa and betrayed by Arrimadas, whom Casado has wanted to take care of so much these months.

One of the veterans with the greatest electoral pull of the party, from the time of Manuel Fraga to Rajoy, sees both risks and benefits “in this drift with no return and impossible to recover with Ciudadanos.” Of course, depending on what Ayuso and Casado want to do after the 4-M elections with Vox. And the former minister adds: “If Ciudadanos, as it seems in the latest polls, does not enter Parliament, Ayuso will go up and collect a large part of that vote, but it will not reach an absolute majority by a little. And then Vox will have the difficult position of allowing her to be president with her abstention, in a second vote, or to vote against and explain to her electors that they have allowed the left to govern ”.


Nobody foresees that this could happen, because it is also concluded that Ayuso has not cut off his relations with Vox and even less with his constituents. The reductionism of the left that “to vote for Ayuso is to govern with Vox” is opposed by the PP: “Not to vote for Ayuso is to vote for Iglesias.”

Francisco Núñez, president of the PP of Castilla-La Mancha, of the Casado generation, is clear about what the dilemma has to be raised: “Here it will be chosen between Ayuso and Sánchez, between the PSOE with Podemos or continue with the proposals of a President who is committed to making Madrid stronger in its locomotive capacity for all of Spain ”, he says.

García Egea himself highlighted yesterday that only strategy for those elections at the closing of a party congress in Córdoba: “Madrid does not want any miniature government of Sánchez and Iglesias, Sánchez’s worst nightmare and concern is a very united PP, which pick up everything on Sánchez’s right, which is a lot ”. The number two of the PP interprets that the party comes out throughout Spain of this crucial week with “a feeling of pride in belonging to an acronym.” And next to him, Juan Manuel Moreno, the Andalusian president, stressed his discomfort with Sánchez “for that board game, chess and thrones” sponsored, he said, from La Moncloa in the middle of the third wave of the pandemic.

After the debacle for the PP in the Catalan elections, which left them with four seats and without their own group, a mini-debate was opened in the party on its ideological and discourse definition. Some spoke of the need for a re-founding congress and the matter ended with a convention for the fall. Now the debate on what to do looms over the relationship with Vox and on the implementation model throughout Spain.

Alfonso Rueda, vice president of the Xunta de Galicia and the candidate to succeed Alberto Núñez Feijóo, offers his formula: “The PP will be consolidated throughout Spain if it does so in all the communities, which are not the same, and national approaches are combined with actions adapted to the territories ”. And about Vox he points out: “We must not become obsessed, we must take advantage of the disappearance of Ciudadanos quickly, make the party bigger and be seen, as in Galicia, as a useful party, with the possibility of governing.”

Esteban González Pons, popular spokesman in Europe, raises what now seems like a chimera: “It is the system and the parties that brought democracy that are in crisis; a convention for the reconstruction of the project would have to be held, because it cannot be that we are not a border formation with the PSOE, with which we would have to build bridges ”. Núñez’s mission is to “expand the PP outside Madrid through the grassroots, town by town, with more prominence from the affiliates in the local boards.”

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