The Feijóo Enigma And The Electoral Advance

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Fernando González Urbaneja | The same PP leaders who last year closed ranks with Casado as a firm candidate for the Moncloa (the polls were favourable to them at the time) have applauded with the same intensity another leader who emerged from a fratricidal internal crisis that was hardly exemplary. A crisis with a few victims (Casado and his few loyalists) that has weakened the party, several of its leaders and, above all, voting expectations. Nothing annoys voters more than the perception of parties with weak leaders and unseemly internal divisions which are poorly managed. Throughout its history, the Socialist Party has been prodigal in its disagreements, dissidence and internal tensions; a double soul that has accompanied it without destroying it. The right manages dissidence worse, which ends up generating splits and competitive parties.

The PP’s current crisis has not ended with another split like the one led by Abascal with VOX; a split that today hangs like a sword of Damocles over the head of any popular leader. The relationship with VOX is a headache under any circumstances. Casado opted for confrontation with VOX, with the right wing without complexes, in order to come out badly damaged by this gamble.

What will Feijóo do to galvanise the PP and recover lost voters? It is an enigma that has not been unravelled, amongst other reasons because he does not know, because he is not clear about it. Feijóo is a regional leader who has solved the VOX problem in his territory with indifference, without citing them, without attacking or courting them.

But what worked for him in Galicia, where he had a strong base and a lot of leverage, does not work in Madrid, a much more complicated place that requires pulling a lot of strings and some baraka. Indifference will not help him now, because VOX is now a very present, growing reality and an alternative to a PP that is too much in the centre for a large sector of its militancy.

Feijóo will have to put an end to Casado’s grumpy PP, overwhelmed by Sánchez’s NO is NO, which evicted him from the Moncloa and infected him for revenge. Feijóo is not grumpy by nature, and at sixty he does not change. He is serious and pragmatic. How are Feijóo and Ayuso, and above all their respective teams, going to get along? It is an enigma that will become clearer with the passing of the months, just a few months.

The other front for Feijóo lies in his confrontation with the Sánchez government. Dog-faced or with room for understanding? The tone of Feijóo’s first speech as president points to the second way, contained confrontation, understanding on the fundamentals, but what is fundamental? Do we have to agree on the anti-inflation policy? Or the strategy with Morocco? Or exceptional positions in the European Union?

On the other hand, it remains to be seen whether Sánchez will be able to reach an agreement if the PP and Feijóo opt for this path. For the time being, Sánchez has decided to invite Feijóo to the Moncloa, at least to weigh each other up and look each other in the eye. It will be a first sign to clear up the Feijóo enigma.

The way things are going, Sánchez is going to want to call elections this year, as Felipe did when Aznar was hailed as Fraga’s successor without tutelage in another historic congress in Seville. There are many reasons to dissolve Parliament.

About the Author

The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.