“No quarter for the PP, we don’t even give them the time of day”

sanchez feijooPedro Sánchez and Nuñez Feijóo

Fernando González Urbaneja | Feijóo, in his capacity as the person in charge of the investiture, has asked for a meeting with Sánchez in his capacity as head of the PSOE, the second most voted party. What is anomalous is that such contact was ignored, even though it serves no purpose. It’s not true that rubbing together makes love, since, unfortunately, there is no chemistry between these two figures.

Sánchez’s response to Feijóo in their first confrontation in the Senate (6 September 2022) was a “47-minute barrage of blows”, as El País headlined that same afternoon. The president of the government greeted the new leader of the opposition, in the first opportunity to confront him, with a series of denigrating put-downs, prepared in advance, which did not bode well for the relationship. Nothing has changed since then.

Perhaps what has changed is that the offended party is not Feijóo but President Sánchez, who feels vexed by the opposition; a message reiterated since then by Sánchez himself and by all his subordinates, so that it is the offender who feels offended. Nothing new, even if it is rather crude.

It is not normal for the head of government and the head of the opposition to show complicity or sympathy; but within certain limits they can. Suárez and González staged differences, but they knew how to find pauses of good understanding for the good of all. There was also complicity between González and Fraga. Things went wrong between Aznar and González and did not improve with the rest of the confrontational political couples. Zapatero’s mood favoured some understanding with Aznar; there was also understanding between Rubalcaba and Rajoy. But that was the last window open to intelligent and constructive dialogue.

Sánchez’s scheme since he became secretary general (first and second phases) has been presided over by “NO MEANS NO” to the PP, whoever its president may be, a scheme or slogan that has become a belief beyond strategies or tactics. So, in contrast to the constitutional consensus and the Moncloa pacts of the 20th century, we are now in the “Pactos del Tinell” phase, which is based on “no quarter for the PP, we don’t even give them the time of day”.

That Feijóo should ask Sánchez for an appointment is normal; but the expectations of that meeting are nil; the statements of the PSOE spokeswoman (Pilar Alegría) before the meeting could not be more forceful in the way she put Feijóo down without quite reaching the point of insulting him.

So there will be an appointment, they will talk, but they will not understand each other. The news will be in the liturgy, where they will see how they will stage the session and the extent of the reciprocal put-downs, to see who is wittier and more brilliant when it comes to accounting for the meeting, which perhaps will not reach the level of actual conversation.

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.