Alberto Núñez Feijóo meets with the general secretary of the PSOE, Pedro Sánchez, this Tuesday in the Congress of Deputies © Claudio AlvarezClaudio Álvarez
When Mariano Rajoy declined the King’s request to go to the investiture, in January 2016, he was very aware of what had happened to former Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho. Rajoy, as his collaborators remember today, was afraid to follow in the footsteps of the Portuguese conservative politician, who managed to lead his re-election in 2015, the shortest government in the history of Portugal: just 27 days. Passos Coelho had won the elections, but without sufficient support, and his newly formed Cabinet was quickly overthrown by Parliament after an agreement between the socialists and the leftist forces. A year later, Rajoy, who had also won the elections but without sufficient support, looked at the example of the beaten Portuguese politician and declined the King’s commission: “Today I do not have the votes and, therefore, it makes no sense for me to go there to the sole effects of the two-month period established by the Spanish Constitution beginning to run,” he said then, to the surprise of his own and others.
Unlike his friend Rajoy, Alberto Núñez Feijóo has accepted the commission from Felipe VI aware that he does not have the support to be invested either. The PP maintains that he has done it so as not to disappoint his voters, because he has won the elections, although behind it there is also an electoral interest in case Pedro Sánchez is not elected and we have to return to the polls. Once they get down to it, in the PP they can’t stop thinking that Feijóo is only four votes away from La Moncloa. And, although in the month that remains until his investiture on September 26 and 27, the popular ones are, above all, fabricating a political story, in Genoa they are not throwing in the towel either. The popular leadership, in a hidden movement, is also working for a surprising twist in the script to give the presidency to Feijóo, although he knows that it is practically impossible. The risky maneuver, which he involves speaking with the nationalists, is straining the party to the maximum.
The PP leadership acts under the following maxim, which is explained by sources at the highest level: “The PNV has the key to Feijóo’s investiture, and Junts has the key to the electoral repetition.” That is to say, the PP believes that the only option for the leader’s investiture to succeed would be to convince the reluctant Basque party that its five deputies vote in favor. On the other hand, with the formation of Carles Puigdemont, with seven seats, the only thing that can be explored is not to make Feijóo president, but to overthrow Sánchez and repeat the elections. A scenario that also interests the PP.
Feijóo has included both parties in the round of talks for his investiture, although it is costing him a lot of internal noise and criticism from the right-wing media, especially from Junts. The PP, management sources admit, wants to explore whether there may be water in the pool. “We have to fight all the battles, we are only four votes away,” point out these sources, in favor of going as far as possible to make Feijóo president. Although the PP has not yet officially sat down with the PNV or Junts, talks have already begun, according to sources familiar with them. So far, with little success.
The PP is running into the PNV’s wall. The popular ones are surprised with the rockiness of the Basque party and with how surly it is becoming with the PP. It took Feijóo until the Lehendakari, Íñigo Urkullu, whom he knew from his time as president of Galicia, got on the phone to talk about the investiture. Génova does everything in its power to try to seduce the PNV, despite the fact that Andoni Ortúzar’s party does not stop slamming doors on them. “It is very difficult, but the PNV is not a rock. They are right-wing, we have to seduce them,” they insist at the top.
The PP leadership is trying so hard to crack the PNV wall that it has given up fighting against the proposal launched by Urkullu this week through EL PAÍS. The Lehendakari proposes a pact between the State and the “historical nationalities” (Basque Country, Catalonia and Galicia) to change the Spanish territorial model, an approach that, if he had not sought its support, the PP would have frontally censored, as the speech demonstrates. which some of his barons and FAES, the foundation of former president José María Aznar, have done. The contrast between the tone of the leadership compared to that of its territorial leaders and the most conservative wing of the PP with Urkullu’s plan is illuminating. While the general coordinator of the PP, Elías Bendodo, emphasized that the PP “understands” Urkullu’s proposal, although there are “limits” in the Constitution that the popular ones will not overcome, some barons of the PP defend that “it is an unacceptable attack on the Constitution and the unity of the Spanish Nation,” as the president of Aragon, Jorge Azcón, criticized. FAES, for its part, has described the Lehendakari’s proposal as a “blow up of the Spanish nation as a constituent subject and the liquidation of the current autonomous State.”
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The path is equally tortuous with Junts, which proposes an unaffordable amnesty law for the PP that Feijóo has denounced as “inconceivable in a European country.” In this case, the PP is trying to convince the Catalan independentists not to support Pedro Sánchez, with the message that both share the strategic interest that the PSC does not continue to grow in Catalonia, something that will continue to happen if they make president Sanchez.
The maneuver of the PNV and Junts is very delicate for Feijóo, who has been internally upset by the party in Catalonia and part of the media right for being willing to talk to the independentists, who until recently were called coup plotters. “The bases are hallucinating, and privately everyone is clear about it,” says a leader who is critical of this strategy, from which no fruit has been seen so far.
At the moment, neither Junts nor the PNV seem to be even remotely open to the investiture of the PP leader. Neither does the PSOE, as highlighted by Feijóo’s failed meeting with Sánchez this Tuesday in Congress. Feijóo’s problem, as the president of the PNV, Andoni Ortúzar, reminded him this Friday, is that he has been attached to the extreme right. “Let’s not play with people,” Ortúzar complained. “Vox is not out of the equation. Vox is an elephant in the middle of the hallway, and no matter how much they want to, they can’t hide it. If Vox were truly out of the equation, the PP, to reach Moncloa, would need 37 more votes than those it has guaranteed.” This Friday, in addition, the PP closed its fifth joint autonomous government with Vox, that of Murcia, after three months of tug-of-war that have been resolved with the victory of the ultras.
Some critical leaders of the PP warn Feijóo of the risks of this strategy. “In the end it may happen again that we do not get either the PNV or Vox,” warns one of them, who recalls the precedent of the Congressional Board vote, in which the PP was left alone with UPN and the Canarian Coalition because Vox distanced itself at the last minute. “If in the investiture Vox distances itself and leaves Feijoo with 139 votes again… it will make a big mess. Abascal has the future of Feijóo in his hands. “It is excessive power.” The extreme right is, for the moment, maintaining support for Feijóo despite his approach to the nationalists, but the leader of the PP is playing on the wire, like Passos Coelho, as some of his people warn him: “You cannot blow and sip at the same time… if you try, you’ll choke.”
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