The PP has tried by land, sea and air, but the PNV has acted like a rock. The Basque party, the last hope of the popular party to make Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s investiture prosper, has given its definitive no to the PP. The PNV spokesperson in Congress, Aitor Esteban, confirmed this Monday his refusal to support Feijóo’s investiture after meeting in the afternoon with the general secretary of the PP, Cuca Gamarra, in the lower house. The PP has put all its efforts into courting the PNV, as Feijóo’s multiple contacts with the leadership of that party reveal. The leader of the PP has spoken by telephone to the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, and with the president of the PNV, Andoni Ortuzar, with whom he also met physically on September 7, as revealed this Monday by the Basque party, a meeting that the PP had kept secret.
The PP’s efforts have been intense, but there is no water in the PNV’s pool. The spokesman for the Basque party in Congress expressed it bluntly, after the last formal meeting with the PP. “There is no room for an investiture,” said Aitor Esteban after having held an hour-long meeting with the parliamentary spokesperson for the Popular Party, in which he also conveyed his rejection. Esteban limited his meeting with Gamarra to a “courtesy” meeting and reiterated that the PNV cannot enter into an equation with Vox. “What we stated from the beginning is that we were not going to participate in a parliamentary conjunction that requires Vox’s votes. It is not only that the investiture requires them, it is evident that this competition would be needed when developing a (Government) program,” he emphasized.
The PNV spokesperson said that in the meeting with Gamarra they did not even talk about content for a hypothetical pact because he already made it clear from the beginning that there was no room for an agreement. In addition to the attendance of Vox, Esteban stressed that the PNV has not been “much encouraged” to support Feijó’s investiture, or the call for a protest against the amnesty, the PP’s position on the use of languages in Congress or its commitment to repeal the democratic memory law. “They insist, and I understand them, but we are very clear and we have not moved,” said the spokesperson.
Despite his refusal, Esteban confirmed that the president of the PNV and the president of the PP had met secretly on September 7, a meeting that neither of the two parties had reported on. According to PNV sources, it was “agreed upon” like this “between both parties” because they understood “that it was preferable that, with the Esteban-Gamarra meeting already planned, this meeting remained in the private sphere.” Although the PP did not want to confirm the appointment even after Basque public television revealed it this Monday morning. Asked why Feijóo has a hidden agenda of contacts for his inauguration, the general secretary answered that “contact with different political forces should be normal.” “That there is contact with leaders of different parties should not be news. We are not in the habit of broadcasting what we do every day.” However, the leader of the PP has reported the rest of his meeting agenda with other political or social leaders.
The PP also refuses to report the details of the contacts it has maintained with Junts per Catalunya for Feijóo’s investiture. The general secretary of the PP denied this Monday contacts “in the area of negotiation in the investiture” with that party when asked about the information from the digital media Okdiario about an alleged meeting that the deputy secretary of the PP Esteban González Pons had with the general secretary of Junts, Jordi Turrull, at the home of a businessman last August in Barcelona.
By denying contacts “in the area of negotiation in the investiture,” Gamarra leaves the door open for conversations to have existed prior to the PP leader receiving the order from the King. Feijóo received the commission from Felipe VI on August 23, and according to Okdiario, the popular deputy secretary met with Junts around the 10th of that month. The PP does not deny the contacts with Junts, which Feijóo himself confirmed last week, but now says that they did not occur regarding the investiture of the PP leader. “There has been no contact in the area of negotiation in the investiture with Junts. Beyond the informal contacts that Feijóo confirmed,” said the number two of the PP.
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The PP has tried to open avenues of negotiation with both the PNV and Junts with the aim of making Feijóo’s investiture successful, to the point that it has had to contort its speech so as not to break bridges with these two formations. This Monday, the PP expressed its “maximum respect” for the meeting that Carles Puigdemont and Andoni Ortuzar held last week in Waterloo. The spokesperson for the popular leadership, Borja Sémper, downplayed the importance of that meeting between the former Catalan president and the president of the PNV and stressed “absolute respect for what other political formations decide to do, and with whom they want to meet.”
While dealing with that meeting normally, Sémper acknowledged that this appointment indicates that the Basque party wants to agree with the PSOE on the investiture of Pedro Sánchez. There is “a change in the (political) position of the PNV,” he admitted. “I think that the PNV is in panic and when a party is in panic it does not usually make the best decisions,” he added in reference to an alleged fear of the PNV regarding the strength of EH Bildu in the next Basque elections, scheduled for 2024. But Although it has tried, even getting entangled in secret contacts, all the PP’s efforts to attract Basque and Catalan independentists have fallen on deaf ears.
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