Óscar Puente, PSOE deputy, in Congress.Claudio Álvarez
Óscar Puente (Valladolid, 54 years old) is, with the permission of Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the politician of the moment. The former socialist mayor of Valladolid, winner of the municipal elections on March 28 and one of the victims of the PP and Vox pacts, has been the unexpected protagonist of the investiture of the conservative candidate for La Moncloa.
Ask. How did the idea of you being the spokesperson in the investiture debate come about?
Answer. At the end of August, shortly after King Felipe VI entrusted Feijóo with the investiture, during a conversation he had with the President of the Government. He thought it could be a good idea and it began to take shape and shape. Everything indicated that it was going to be me since Sunday, September 10, after another call with Pedro (Sánchez). The final decision was made last Thursday: that day there was a plenary session in Congress and I returned to Valladolid with the certainty that I would be in charge. The situation has been handled by Pedro, it is a totally personal decision of the president.
Q. Are you going to intervene again on Friday before the second, predictably unsuccessful, vote for Feijóo?
A. I’m up to what they tell me, but I think so. In any case, it will be very little. The candidate will have 10 minutes and the representatives of the parliamentary groups will have five minutes.
Q. How much time did you spend on the speech?
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A. The speech came out easy and it came out a long time ago. I had it written practically three or four weeks ago, what happens is that then you pay attention to current events and that allows you to add a touch more linked to the last minute. That is why I included Feijóo’s proposal in his investiture speech to create a crime of constitutional disloyalty. This is said by the leader of a party that has been refusing to renew the General Council of the Judiciary for five years!
Q. What objective were you looking for by choosing a profile like yours?
A. We wanted to put Feijóo in front of his contradictions. The best way to do it was to have someone respond to him in a situation similar to the one he is in and who has not been able to govern as a result of the pacts with Vox, despite having been the most voted list that Feijóo defended so much. This is what the PP has done on all the occasions in which it has been able to form a government with the extreme right.
Q. What have other mayors like you, affected by 28-M, said to you?
A. Not just mayors, the reaction of the entire party has been spectacular. The party has been vindicated and I believe that people have been grateful that there is someone who puts their foot down in the face of so much fallacy. And in the face of that absolutely fictitious narrative in which there are people who allow themselves the luxury of saying one thing, that the list with the most votes governs, and doing the opposite with the most absolute self-confidence. The PP governs in Extremadura, in the Canary Islands, in 140 municipalities and it has not been the most voted list. So that’s it. Feijóo’s reaction shows that the PP is much more amateur than I imagined. Not having foreseen the scenario that was presented is not being professional. One has to foresee all the scenarios: Pedro can leave, Patxi (López) can leave, another person can leave. I would have thought that the PSOE has a few (former) mayors sitting on the bench in Congress, and that that was a risk.
P. Feijóo reacted by accusing him of having tried to dynamite his investiture.
A. The investiture was already blown up before the debate began. It is his party that has been calling for elections for 10 days. That is to say, he has to be aware that the situation he reaches is only his fault and his party’s fault. It is Feijóo who says that he renounces being elected while the PP asks that elections be called. Why are you coming to Congress then? The reaction of the PSOE is obviously not to give that rank to an investiture that is not. Spot. Another objective was to send a clear and clear message about the situation that the PSOE is experiencing, because there was unrest among some socialist voters who believed it was possible that there would be a maneuver with turncoats and that had to be averted. The constant appeals to turncoatism by presidents autonomous communities like Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla are regrettable.
Q. Was there so much discomfort within the PSOE due to these appeals to transfuguism?
A. Within the party there is no fear of a turncoat. None. Now, the noise is tremendous and the voter, the citizen from the outside, feels uneasy. Things have been very hot for a long time now. That is, having to listen to them tell you “let Txapote vote for you” and that this man (by Feijóo) was asked during the election campaign and he evaded the problem and did not disavow the use of that slogan… It has bothered very much in the PSOE and the voters of the left.
Q. There are those who consider it a lack of institutional respect that the acting president has decided not to intervene.
R. What is the written or unwritten rule that says that the acting president has to participate in the inauguration of another candidate? Where is the? Pedro Sánchez is president of an outgoing acting government. I don’t understand why he has to enter another candidate’s inauguration. The one being examined is Feijóo and the socialist group chooses who they want to participate in that exam and it does not have to be the President of the Government.
Q. What did Patxi López tell you?
A. He wished me luck and encouragement.
Q. And no problem.
A. Of course! But let’s see, I don’t intend to replace Patxi López. This is a specific circumstance for a specific occasion that I think is easy to understand. That is to say, who is going to come out with more authority to make it clear to Feijóo that his argument is a fallacy than someone else who is in the same situation?
Q. In your speech you stated that the PSOE is a party that is armored against external pressures. Were you going for Felipe González and Alfonso Guerra?
A. No, because in any case Felipe and Guerra are internal pressures, not external ones. I do not consider them foreign to the party. I was referring to the fact that Pedro Sánchez and the entire process that took place since the fateful federal committee of October 1, 2016 has something to his credit that history will recognize: having returned the party to its bases. The party is no longer even Pedro Sánchez’s, this Sanchismo thing is a story. The party is in the hands of the militants. They decide. No group, neither media, nor economic, nor political, decides for the PSOE militants. And the current leaders of the PSOE keep this in mind and it gives us peace of mind to act, knowing that the 200,000 members of the PSOE and the progressives of this country support us. Felipe’s opinion and Guerra’s opinion are opinions like those of any other militant, which have neither more nor less value and which, in this case, are also not representative of the militancy as a whole.
Q. Even with all the uncertainty surrounding the granting of a hypothetical amnesty?
A. The PSOE knows perfectly well how far it can go. And those who dialogue with the PSOE know how far the PSOE can go. You don’t have to run or be in a hurry. We must respect the liturgy, but we must talk about the investiture of Mr. Sánchez, which has not yet taken place? When it arrives it will be talked about. But let no one have any doubt that the decision made by the federal leadership will be a decision that the militants will understand, comprehend and support.
Q. And the voters?
A. I have no doubt.
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