Shortly after the PP arrived at the Government of Andalusia, Elías Bendodo, counselor of the Presidency and strong man of the new regional Executive, coincided in an act with the former socialist president Manuel Chaves.
– President, we know everything about you, everything is on file, we have studied everything, said Bendodo to the socialist.
These almost three years of popular government have confirmed that this was the case: since Juan Manuel Moreno was sworn in as president of the Board, on January 18, 2019, there are many similarities between the Executive of PP and Citizens with whom Chaves presided during 19 years; above all, with regard to the public projection of government action. The PP has been mounted on very successful formulas deployed by the PSOE during the almost 37 years in which it remained in power. These were the policy of comparative grievance, the confrontation with the central Executive of the opposite sign, and the almost exclusive identification of the party with Andalusia. Bendodo’s comment to Chaves reveals how the popular dissected each phrase and slogan uttered by the socialists in their speeches.
Moreno and his advisers use expressions identical to those coined by the PSOE leaders. “We are not going to demand or ask to be more than anyone, but we are not going to accept to be less than anyone,” the popular say before the slightest hint that any community takes advantage of its parliamentary alliance with Pedro Sánchez. The author of that phrase is the first elected president of Andalusia, the socialist Rafael Escuredo.
“Andalusia will be a retaining wall for nationalist claims that imply privileges and inequalities between territories,” said Chaves. Moreno now repeats: “Andalusia will be the containment dam to the drifts of a bankruptcy in the equality of Spaniards wherever they live.” In the electoral campaign of 1996, the Socialists used as their motto ‘Andalusia, the first’. The current regional government says the same: “Andalusia comes first, above any other interest.”
“We have been studying the PSOE for 37 years. But ours are realities, not slogans. We study it so as not to influence errors. And steal flags that belonged to no one: Andalusianism, the party of the land … We take them because the PSOE did not consolidate them, “say Andalusian Government sources. The communication plan of the Junta is also inspired by the past with advertising slogans such as ‘Andalusia works’ (more modest than the ‘Unstoppable Andalusia’ of the PSOE). “They are simple messages, that when they are hammered, they penetrate. We are going on the same road as the PSOE, but they went overboard with the propaganda ”, they admit from the Junta.
There are few who see similarities between Moreno and Manuel Chaves. “He has copied him,” admit some socialists who ask for anonymity. “Both are moderate, dialoguing, they are not edges and do not get into the mud,” says Juan Ojeda, journalist and former secretary general of the Andalusian PP. Chaves had Gaspar Zarrías as a shield in the Government, with the mission of stopping any direct blow to the president. Moreno has Elías Bendodo. For the socialists, Chaves was “good Manolo”; for the popular, Moreno is “the good of Juanma.”
The first, 19 years of president, was identified with Andalusia. And Moreno, who never appears in the television camera shot without the green and white flag, has also achieved it in a thousand days in office, say his advisers. Carmen Ortega, professor of Political Science at the University of Granada, assures that Moreno is attracting the political center. “Andalusia is a center-left community: either you capture the center or there is no way to win. Moreno’s moderate mood is not prefabricated, it is believed, and it transmits tranquility. You have done well. With polarization you are not going anywhere, ”he says.
The political scientist Ángel Cazorla agrees: “Now it is more difficult to talk about left and right. Traditional ideological anchors have changed. The economic structure of Andalusia was very dependent and the socialists generated a more urban society with more middle classes. Moreno has played at that ideological lukewarmness. The pandemic has favored him, because he has not demanded another policy. There have been no major gaffes or tensions. And it has done something very well: it has normalized the right-wing government very quickly ”.
In these three years, however, the most recurrent criticism of the socialists, more than the censorship of policies and management, has been that Moreno governs with the support of the extreme right of Vox. The PSOE has shaken the spectrum of the “trifachito”, although it does not seem that it is giving results in the polls, which favor the popular ones. In the PP they assure that the appeal to fear of the right has been good for them. “People have been told that we were going to fire 100,000 people on the Board, to eliminate gender violence or violence against immigrants. The Socialists have generated such bad expectations that what they have done is to moderate Moreno and the Government as a whole ”, they maintain.