Tuesday, March 21

Pablo Casado fiasco in Castilla y León

The right has been ruling Castilla y León since 1987, for three and a half decades, since before the Berlin Wall fell. It is not news that it will continue to do so after tonight’s elections and that was not the reason why the Popular Party decided to call early elections, a year and a half before voting time.

Let us remember what happened, now that the PP is trying to rewrite its arguments and sell a story that did not happen: that they called the elections to avoid an alleged motion of censure by Ciudadanos in Castilla y León that never existed.

That is not the reality. From Genoa they advanced the elections because they saw the absolute majority at hand, because they believed that they would completely remove Ciudadanos from the map, because they thought that they would not depend on Vox. They did it to launch the “Casado effect”, and compensate for the “Ayuso effect”, to show that it was the president of the PP who was pulling the party, and not just the leader of Madrid.

None of those big goals has been met today. Not even the one that they have been closest to achieving: completely sinking Ciudadanos, which maintains one last seat in the regional parliament. That of Francisco Igea. That he is finally aware of the type of partner that the PP is.

The right has won the elections and Alfonso Fernández Mañueco has all the cards to continue leading the Junta de Castilla y León. But the good news that the PP can sell ends there. Being the first force in the elections, to the detriment of the PSOE, does not make it easier for Alfonso Fernández Mañueco neither the investiture nor governance. He improves the 2019 result by two seats and wins the elections against the PSOE by just one and a half points.

In percentage of votes, Mañueco remains practically at the same point where they were two years ago: which was already the worst figure for the PP in the region in four decades. If I had known this result in advance, I doubt that I would have forced this early election.

The PP will depend entirely on Vox, which has already advanced its intention to be part of the new government. The PP resists, and will resist as long as it can. But it doesn’t seem like he has a choice.

For Pablo Casado, the fiasco could not be greater. The entire strategy designed by Genoa was to govern alone in Castilla y León to consolidate his president as an alternative to Pedro Sánchez, as a great reference on the right against Isabel Díaz Ayuso and Santiago Abascal. It has not been like that, and there are many in her party who today privately question her leadership at the head of the PP.

Casado has starred in a disastrous campaign, with interventions indistinguishable from his own caricature. Those comic speeches, surrounded by cows and sheep, about beets, urbanites, garlic soups or picudo prieto wine for breakfast, will remain in history –of humor–.

It also remains to be seen if the calendar of cascading elections that the Popular Party had designed continues. In Andalusia, Juanma Moreno Bonilla today already knows that an electoral advance is the guarantee of a great rise for Vox. If she manages to repeat as president of the Andalusian Government, it will be safe with a Vox vice president.

Soria It is already guaranteed to be the new Teruel It exists on the national scene. With this result – the first force in the province, three seats and more than 40% of the votes – they would ensure one of the two deputies that this province distributes in the next general elections. The bad news for the left is that they would achieve it at the expense of the PSOE, which remains as the third force. The other deputy, if this were a general, would be for the PP.

Casado has failed in his strategy. But that doesn’t mean the left has much to celebrate. Between PSOE and United We Can, eight attorneys are left in the courts and almost five points. The PSOE loses almost five points. In United We Can maintain 5%, which was already a bad result compared to the regional elections of 2015, but half of their seats are left: from two to one, partly due to the electoral law.

The failure of the left in a territory that has always been hostile to it is also a consequence of the erosion of the coalition government in monolingual Spain –Las Castillas, Madrid, Andalucía, Murcia…–, where they pay the cost of governability. There are no left-wing policies in the national Parliament that do not go through Catalans and Basques –as has become clear again with the labor reform–. But agreeing with ERC, Bildu or PNV supposes an enormous wear and tear for the left in interior Spain.

It does not improve the PP, although it continues to govern. He doesn’t win the left, he loses even more footing. Neither did the supposed center, Ciudadanos, who never acted as if they really believed that position. Apart from Soria Ya, the great winners of the night are on the extreme right, in Vox. Which becomes the third political force in the community, as it already is in the national Parliament.

The first words of Santiago Abascal leave no doubt as to what his intention is now: his candidate “is getting the face of a vice president.” It is doubtful that they will accept another option, which is terrible news for all of Spain and for Castilla y León. It will be the first administration of importance in Spain where the extreme right will govern.