Last Monday marked the third anniversary of the unprecedented vote of the Popular Party militants, the first step of the primaries to elect their new leader that concluded two weeks later, in the XIX Congress, with the appointment as president of Pablo Casado after the second vote, in which only the delegates who attended the conclave on July 20 and 21, 2018 participated.
Casado raises the tone against the Government as the fence on Cospedal tightens
Until that July 5 of that year, the favorites to win the process were the former vice president of the Government Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and the former secretary general of the PP María Dolores de Cospedal. But none of them succeeded. The two are today out of politics and have been signed in recent months by prestigious law firms. Sáenz de Santamaría works at Cuatrecasas and Cospedal was hired by the CMS Albiñana & Suárez de Lezo law firm, although she is currently on leave of absence, since last June.
The main reason for this temporary termination of her contract is because in the last three years Cospedal has gone from being the all-powerful general secretary of the party and favorite to lead it to being imputed in one of the most murky issues of the recent past of the PP: the espionage of former treasurer Luis Bárcenas –the so-called Operation Kitchen– from the Government of Mariano Rajoy and from the party itself to try to destroy any type of evidence that could incriminate the conservative formation in another cause of corruption, the Gürtel.
Cospedal testified before the judge as being investigated last week and acknowledged her relationship and her encounters with former commissioner José Manuel Villarejo although, according to the audios of that statement released this week, she did not carry out “professional assignments.” “The conversations with Villarejo were more than social but I did not make him any professional order,” said the former secretary general in the National Court.
This version contradicts the one offered by Ignacio López del Hierro, the husband of the former secretary general, also accused, who in his statement did acknowledge that Villarejo was awarded several “assignments” in the meetings – between four and eight, according to The different implicated parties were recognized in court – that he and Cospedal held with the policeman at the national headquarters of the popular on Genova street in Madrid.
The PP avoids filing his former ‘number two’
Despite the accusation, the current leadership of the PP, in the hands of Pablo Casado, has not even opened a file with Cospedal despite the fact that the statutes of the PP They require this type of procedure for all those leaders or former leaders cited as being investigated, like her, in cases of corruption. In reality, the decision not to open a file for him was at the beginning of June – when the imputation of the former secretary general and former minister became known – the last payment of the leader of the popular to which he was his main supporter in the aforementioned XIX Congress of 2018.
In the first round of the primaries, that of the militancy vote, Sáenz de Santamaría was the most voted, followed by Casado. Cospedal was third, so it was eliminated from the process, since the internal rules provide for a two-vote system in which only the two most voted candidates go to the second phase. That is why the next steps of the former secretary general were marked by her personal relationship with the former vice president of the Government.
Cospedal and Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría had been the eternal internal arch-enemies in the PP. Between 2008 and 2018 they openly competed for control of the party chaired by Rajoy who, trying to balance the balance, named one his ‘number two’ in the PP and, the other, his right hand in the Executive.
In this context, Cospedal’s decision to assert all his organic power was framed so that Casado won in the vote of the delegates, turning all his like-minded leaders in favor of the young candidate, whom at the beginning of the process no one within the ranks Popular considered with options to become the successor of Mariano Rajoy at the head of the party.
Just ten days after being eliminated in the militancy vote, Cospedal appeared at an informative breakfast starring Casado and publicly expressed his support with the following words: “My presence here means that today the PP and we have “We have to offer our militants and our voters an exciting and future project. A strong and united PP, with convictions, has to be prepared to fight for Spain and for the Spanish and I believe that Pablo Casado can be a magnificent option for this”.
The relationship between Cospedal and Casado
The interest of the former Defense Minister in supporting Casado was due solely and exclusively to her historic battle with Sáenz de Santamaría. And, finally, Cospedal won that war, when in the XIX Congress the delegates voted en masse for the current leader of the PP, his personal bet to overthrow his internal enemy. Married, for all this, he owes the position to Cospedal. Without it, the PP leader would not be where he is today, at the head of the main opposition party.
As soon as he was elected, he himself publicly thanked the former secretary general for the influence that led him to lead the conservative formation with the following words: “Thank you María Dolores [de Cospedal]Secretary General, for everything you have done for this party, for being a winning candidate in Castilla-La Mancha, for being an excellent minister, an excellent advisor. For being the one who has shown his face in the worst circumstances for the game. Thank you, María Dolores, thank you very much “.
When, in November 2018, the former secretary general had to resign her seat in Congress, after revealing her conversations with former commissioner Villarejo that finally motivated her accusation of spying on Bárcenas, the already leader of the PP said as a farewell that the former secretary General had done “a formidable job for the party, for Castilla-La Mancha and for Spain.” “From the Popular Party we recognize his great work,” he added.
Until that moment of Cospedal’s departure from politics, Casado always tried to reward her for her support in the primaries. He included her on the general lists, placed the leaders closest to the former minister in strategic positions – such as Dolors Montserrat or Juan Ignacio Zoido – and, in September 2018, Casado’s management elected her as the representative of the PP on the board of trustees of the Elcano Institute, in which last February she was appointed vice president. After the imputation, Cospedal maintains the position in the aforementioned body.
The judicial calendar
Three years after the primaries, each of the revelations of the Operation Kitchen summary that have become known in recent weeks gives Cospedal a leading role in the espionage of Bárcenas. But the president of the popular ones tries to avoid any comment on the case that has led to the indictment of the former secretary general for the crimes of bribery, embezzlement and influence peddling.
Despite Casado’s silence, that link with the leader who elevated him to the leadership of the party follows him and will continue to persecute him because the judicial calendar continues and in the PP they do not rule out that Cospedal’s link with Kitchen may be joined by that of the one who, in In short, he was the highest political official in the Government when the espionage of Bárcenas took place: former President Mariano Rajoy.
He will have to testify in October before the congressional commission investigating the case. Rajoy, who was in Moncloa for seven years, was the one who placed his personal friend, Jorge Fernández Díaz, in the Ministry of the Interior, to whom the Kitchen revelations point directly, and the person who promoted Casado to Vice Secretary of Communication of the PP , the position that he held until the moment of his election in the XIX Congress of the party in July 2018.