Monday, August 2

Feijóo retreats to Galicia and re-elects himself in front of Ayuso’s long shadow

Everything indicates that it will be by acclamation. In Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s party, its relationship with Ourense having been pacified, there seems to be no other option than the president. His more than foreseeable re-election in the Galician PP congress this weekend will also certify two realities: that the brilliant success of Díaz Ayuso in Madrid has relegated him to his role as the eternal reserve of the Spanish right and that the second line of the organization in Galicia it remains barren. In any case, Feijóo will preside over the popular ones – he has been doing it since 2006 – and clears the way for his fifth consecutive candidacy for the Xunta.

Feijóo closes the door to his succession and opens it to present himself for the fifth time to preside over the Xunta

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But the Feijóo who a year ago obtained his fourth absolute majority of four attempts and thus equaled the mark of Fraga Iribarne is a Feijóo different from the one that arrives at the 17th Congress of the PP of Galicia, in Santiago de Compostela. The rise of a new star in the sky on the right changed the landscape. The Galician baron had threatened, the fall of Mariano Rajoy after the motion of censure in 2018, with making the leap to Madrid politics. He stopped at the last minute in a solemn, and strange, public act. His photos with the drug trafficker Marcial Dorado or his bad relations with Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, also a candidate for the succession at the time, did not help him. And this is what Isabel Díaz Ayuso broke into.

If Feijóo had shared the opposition to the central government with the Madrilenian during the worst of the pandemic, sometimes with different styles, others with similar tactics, the regional elections to the Madrid Assembly reconfigured their relationship. And that of both with the rest of the party. The opinions of the president of the Xunta, used to commenting on current Spanish politics, lowered its price. His interviews and walks around Madrid, so frequent that even the mayor of the city has joked about it, no longer arouse the same interest as before.

The powerful conservative press, and circles of popular influence, prefer Díaz Ayuso and his strident rhetorical turn to the right. Some analysts identify it as the beginning of the regrouping of their political field and predict that if Casado does not win the next elections, her practically natural replacement will be her. And she plays the game, as she demonstrated in her last meeting with Pedro Sánchez at Moncloa. Feijóo, uncomfortable with ideological stridencies and whose positions rub shoulders with Vox who declare themselves moderate, have changed his pace.

Out of fashion

The eternal promise seems to have gone out of style in Madrid. His withdrawal to Galicia will experience a kind of staging between July 16 and 17. It will be the fifth congress of the PP of which Feijóo will be the winner. The first, in 2006, was in which he relieved Fraga Iribarne. Then Xosé Cuíña – leader of what the press called the “beret sector”, factions of the party settled in rural areas and with vague Galician leanings -, Xosé Manuel Barreiro and Enrique López Veiga, prevailed. For this he did not hesitate to rely on the tricks of Rafael Louzán, controversial president of the Pontevedra Provincial Council, or to agree with José Luis Baltar, the same but in Ourense. The latter’s son succeeded him in the post and maintains the agreement with Feijóo, as long as he stays outside of provincial politics. The last sample, the vaudeville in the city council of Ourense.

The fact is that the 17th congress will have nothing to do with the succession convulsions of 2006. His vice president in the Galician Government and the closest thing to a number 2 that exists in the extreme presidential regime implanted by Feijóo, Alfonso Rueda, still explained it this Tuesday. “I would love for him to run for a fifth term,” he explained, “and I have always said it, I started with Feijóo in 2006 and I continue with him in 2021; as long as he continues to trust me, I will try to continue doing my best.” The bench is scarce in the PP of Galicia. Its president has never thought it a priority to promote it, unlike the Fraga who appointed his dolphins. Among which was Feijóo.

Only one county council and the eleventh locality per inhabitants

With no succession debate in sight and not even clear applicants, the Galician PP still has to try to reverse its weak points. The absolute majorities of Feijóo strengthen the general impression of a political hegemony in the community that in reality is not so much. Only the Diputación de Ourense is in his hands, or rather in those of Manuel Baltar, who obeys not too much the guidelines of the Galician leadership. And the census of the most populated city council that governs barely exceeds 30,000 inhabitants: Arteixo (A Coruña), the eleventh by population in Galicia. Socialists and nationalists rule in the mayors of cities and their peripheries.

Still in the generals of April 2019 the Socialist Party outnumbered the PP. In November of that year there was a technical tie. But if the results of Galicia in Common and BNG are added to those of the PSOE, the defeat of the right leaves no doubt. It only goes back when the ballot boxes are placed to elect the Parliament of Galicia. The current state of the opposition, with Gonzalo Caballero still to settle and an Ana Pontón to whom the polls ratify her magnificent 2020 results but for now no more, makes the PP think that an absolute fifth majority is within the possible. Its most conspicuous militants believe so. It is Alfonso Rueda, who even ventures the spirit that will dominate the conclave of the Galician PP, which Diaz Ayuso will certainly attend: “A congress where Alberto Núñez Feijóo I can already tell you that I am sure that with the acclaim of all of us who are there he is going to take charge of a stable party that has three years to govern Galicia “.

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