The answer to the question at the top of these lines is “no”. Can not. At least for now or in a foreseeable time. The PP is trapped in its current, and already long, line of uncompromising confrontation with the government, with the left and with the nationalists, for reasons that from its perspective are very powerful and from which it cannot escape until its circumstances change much. . But maintaining that posture can be very costly. Already there are signs of this: in recent days, very significant exponents of their social spectrum have shown signs of not agreeing with the positions of Pablo Casado.
The latest initiatives of the popular leader have reaped something similar to failures. The Columbus demonstration, initially launched with great force, later blurred as different regional barons began to look the other way, was something close to the fiasco. Isabel Díaz Ayuso contributed as many people as she could, but very few troops came from outside Madrid. The collection of signatures against the pardon was also very short, almost ridiculous. It seems that in both endeavors the popular organization did not mobilize its resources to the extent necessary. Because they did not demand it from above or simply because he could not do it.
As much as the formidable PP media squad tried to hide these disappointments, the feeling that the PP had not risen to the occasion spread throughout the political environment. Casado had acted constrained by the risk that Vox would take center stage in the protest and was not able to drive away that ghost until the very moment of the demonstration. Some in the PP wondered, not in public, of course: “then, why has he summoned it?” And once again, the puzzled face that Casado makes more and more often, was the best response to it. The leader of the PP is increasingly lost.
In the journalistic interviews that followed those moments, Casado seemed famous. Faced with all the evidence to the contrary, he repeated like an automaton that the pardons were not legal, and wearily charged against the Spain of evil, the left united with the separatists that day after day its parliamentary majority is confirmed.
But the coup de grace was going to be given to him by the CEOE president. Antonio Garamendi declared that the pardons seemed good to him if they served to unblock the situation. The day before, the Catalan businessmen of all the organizations, the same ones who three years ago strongly opposed the independence movement and who, in one way or another, supported the transfer of headquarters outside of Catalonia, had demonstrated in the same sense.
Casado reacted very badly to those words. He and Díaz Ayuso dedicated themselves to disqualifying Garamendi in the worst terms, denying him the right to express political opinions – which in the past have usually been very well received by the PP – and calling him practically paniaguado.
And the disqualifications continue today. Garamendi has reaffirmed himself in what he said and a part of the CEOE leadership has expressed its solidarity with him. Not another, certainly. But there is no doubt that the business leader knew he had significant support before daring to take that step. Large companies and large banks are in charge of the CEOE and it does not seem likely that the business leader has risked challenging them. And if there was a tacit agreement between one and the others, it means that the world of money that works and decides, something else is the rentiers, it begins to not see with good eyes the senseless and hopeless Talibanism of the PP president.
The Spanish episcopal conference has just put its grain of sand in this dispute. “We, like the Catalan bishops, are for dialogue and respect for the laws” has declared its official spokesman, Luis Argüello. And the point is not negligible, as much as the bishops have been trying for some time to seem far from political controversy. And more so when Casado had attacked the Catalan episcopal conference for having supported the pardon.
Is the leader of the PP cornered? Surely not yet, but with serious cause for concern to find out how he can maintain his political position amid mounting difficulties.
Because backing out right now is not a way out you can choose. That would be equivalent to agreeing with Vox, which for years has accused the leadership of the PP of being “soft” and increasing the possibilities of Isabel Díaz Ayuso to replace him in leadership while maintaining the hard line from which he has never gotten off.
The presence on the board of these two pressing rivals explains Casado’s radicalism better than anything else. That it is not born from an autonomous reflection, but is forced, imposed by the painful circumstances in which the leader of the PP fights to maintain his position, and that for that reason he does not control or direct.
It is becoming increasingly clear that outside the most select circle on Genova Street, at the headquarters of other powers of the social right and also of the regional baronies, not a few are wondering where the drift of Pablo Casado leads and until when your position may be sustainable. Many political and social operators need a PP that negotiates and agrees with the Government solutions for a myriad of specific problems, from financial and economic to legal.
And Casado is not doing any of that. Because he fears that even a meeting with a minister to attend to a specific issue will be branded as treason by Vox and criticized by Ayuso. And those two, plus the most fanatical mass of the PP’s militancy and electorate, are for now the only mirrors in which the leader wants to look at himself. For this reason, the most predictable thing is that he does not move from his verbal, daily and less and less credible radicalism. Until they make him do it. And then it may be too late.