It was the most surprising dismissal and the one that has been least explained. Not even José Luis Ábalos knows the reasons why Pedro Sánchez decided to do without him as Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda and as Secretary of Organization of the PSOE in the profound remodeling of the Government that he carried out in July and that will have its result final with the appointment of the new party leadership in the congress in mid-October. “There are questions that I don’t even ask,” Ábalos said in an interview with Más Vale Tarde (La Sexta) in which he attributed his departure to “personal wear and tear.”
Ábalos, the ‘spirit of Xirivella’ that leaves through the back door
In a matter of days, Ábalos went from being one of the president’s trusted men to being removed from power. He was aware of the remodeling of the Government, at least in some aspects, but it was the same July 10 when Sánchez summoned him in Moncloa to inform him that he would no longer continue to be part of the Council of Ministers. Since then he has not spoken with the socialist leader, of whom he was one of the main collaborators since 2016, when he supported him in the middle of a battle in the PSOE. “We have had moments of greater intensity of less intensity. I do not give any return to that,” he said about the relationship with Sánchez and has tried to normalize not having had any contact with him by ensuring that the priority at this time for everyone has been “rest” and that the president now has to “dispatch” with those who are working side by side with him.
“To be a minister you only have to have one requirement: that the president designate you. In his margin of discretion (…) he makes the compositions he deems pertinent,” Ábalos has expressed in his reappearance in which he has rejected that this decision has supposed a disappointment. The former minister has assured that he will continue to be “at the disposal” of the party, for now as a low-level deputy, waiting for the leadership to find a fit for him. For now the intention in the socialist leadership is to keep him in Congress. “At that time it was a question of reshaping the government, not looking for a solution for anyone,” he commented on the possibility that in July they would have given him a way out. For now, he is also joining the program Todo es Mentira (Cuatro), a decision that has caused astonishment in the ranks of the party.
Ábalos has avoided complaining about the ways in which his departure took place and, especially, the lack of socialist references in his goodbye in the ministry. Asked if he missed the presence of party leaders, he replied: “Not at the time. The comments caught my attention. It was not my farewell, it was the inauguration of the new minister.” He himself recalled that at that time “he had not yet completed” his resignation from the Organization Secretariat and in Ferraz they already took for granted the relief in the hands of Santos Cerdán. Sánchez had told him that he did not want him to continue leading the party.
He has avoided making self-criticism and has ensured that he does not ask himself or question what he did wrong to leave the Government. In fact, he has especially defended himself against some controversial aspects of his mandate, such as the meeting with the Venezuelan vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, and the rescue of the Plus Ultra company. Both cases, he recalled, are prosecuted and the courts have agreed.
He has also put himself on the defensive before a cut that they have emitted in the program in which he said that nobody threw him out – which he pronounced when the right had pilloried him – and has assured that he was referring to the political “commitment” . “If politics are the charges, then you can laugh and have a lot of fun,” said the former minister, especially hurt by the campaigns of the extreme right, which he defined as “permanent harassment.”
“I have a certain personal wear and tear and I still accuse it,” Ábalos said about the “pressure” he has received. “It had been three years and a month of tremendous intensity,” said the former minister, who has referred to the “entry of the extreme right” in Parliament, the coalition government and the pandemic. “In the private sphere, one has been very affected”, he has settled.