Wednesday, May 18

The Government prepares for a war of attrition with a PP forced to rethink its opposition strategy

There has been practically no truce: neither in the pandemic, nor in the economic crisis left by the coronavirus nor, of course, in the territorial conflict. The relationship between Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Casado has been practically nil in the three years that the socialist has been in Moncloa, specific exceptions such as the first extensions of the state of alarm during the most severe confinement of 2020 or the failed attempts to renew the General Council of the Judicial Power (CGPJ), which operates with its mandate expired for more than two years. The government assumes that the PP, with stiff competition from the radical right, is not going to change its attitude and is preparing for a war of attrition in the next two years.

Casado stages a “more transversal” PP with specific tables on “feminism” or “identities” in its National Convention

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Despite the fear in the socialist ranks of the growth of the PP that the polls draw thanks to the collapse of Ciudadanos, in Moncloa they maintain that there is a long way to go. They trust that the exit from the pandemic and the economic recovery, thanks to the billions that will arrive from the EU, will return the distance to the PSOE over the main opposition party. The impossibility for a Pablo Casado escorted to the most extreme positions by Vox to reach parliamentary agreements with other forces in Congress also alleviates those of Pedro Sánchez.

“There is a legislature ahead”, state government sources about the resignation of Sánchez that Casado claimed this Wednesday in the first session of control of the Government after the pardons. The first battle will be judicial before the resources that the right has already begun to present against the grace measures, which the PP describes as illegal and unconstitutional. “It is not acceptable that the right wing lies to the Spanish with things that are legal. It is unbearable for sanity,” laments a prominent member of Sánchez’s Cabinet.

Casado’s leadership plans to extend its campaign against pardons as much as possible, although it is already exhausted because none of its actions have achieved the effect that Genoa 13 was looking for, which was to prevent the Government from approving them, to show internal tensions in the PSOE – in all regional parliaments in which PP initiatives have been voted on in this regard, the Socialists have rejected them without fissures – and that there were massive street demonstrations against it. Finally, only one protest took place, that of the Plaza de Colón on the 13th, which had a lower attendance than expected and which was dominated by the extreme right.

Collections of signatures and resources

The collection of signatures promoted by the leader of the PP punctured already from the first week. According to Genoa 13, they will achieve 500,000 signatures by the end of this week, almost a month after the start of the campaign. In 2006 it obtained 800,000 against the Statute in just one week and there are also 800,000 militants that the PP claims to have, so not even all the affiliates have stamped their signature against those pardons.

Despite this, the party wants to maintain the signature collection tables “throughout Spain.” “The national leadership and senior members of the formation will be involved to request the resignation of Sánchez based on a lie,” they explain in Genoa 13, after on Wednesday the leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, introduced during the control session to the Executive in Congress that new variant in its strategy against pardons: that of asking the Prime Minister to resign and call elections so that support for pardons is measured at the ballot box. On the other hand, the popular leadership is aware that Moncloa does not contemplate any electoral advance and that it plans to exhaust the legislature, whose culmination is scheduled for the end of 2023.

In addition to the collection of signatures, the PP still hopes that its appeals against pardons in the courts will prosper, although, according to the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court, the appeals would have many difficulties to succeed. At the moment, Vox and Ciudadanos are leading the way in this judicial strategy, because they presented their respective appeals against pardons on Thursday, while the popular ones continue to try to find the arguments that legitimize that action before the courts.

What the leadership of the PP wants is to demonstrate however that it is a victim of these pardons, because, unlike criminal cases, the contentious-administrative jurisdiction, before which government acts such as the pardon of the inmates of the procés, it is very restrictive when it comes to allowing political parties to appear. The most common is that the pardon is appealed by the victim of the crime or their relatives.

Casado insists that he is directly affected by the pardons because one of the CDRs investigated in the National Court searched his name on the internet. And his number twoTeodoro García Egea, for his part, maintains that it was the PP who “led the independentistas before the Supreme Court” from the Government of Mariano Rajoy, so he tries to equate the party with the Executive. “The State Attorney General’s Office was the one that acted against the independentistas and thanks to that action of the Government these gentlemen went to jail. Therefore, the PP was part of the process through the Government of Mariano Rajoy and the measures that were they took at the time as 155 “, he pointed out this Thursday.

Sources of the national leadership of the PP consulted by do not dare to set a date for the presentation of said resources. “The first thing is to present the legitimation,” they explain, something that will not happen at least until next week. This Friday Casado held a meeting with the party’s legal team in search of those arguments, which have not been made public at the moment. And the meeting did not serve to determine when the popular to the courts.

The Government questions the PP’s strategy

In the Executive they maintain that, with this strategy, the remainder of the mandate will be very long for the PP. “Are they going to spend two years saying that if the pardons and that this government is a calamity?” Asks a member of the Cabinet, who considers that the issue will not be able to be extended until the elections are held: ” People find the VAT reduction on electricity more interesting than pardons, because it affects their daily lives. ”

Despite having the polls in favor, leaders popular they assume that Casado will have to rethink his opposition strategy for the next two years, beyond the offensive for pardons. For the moment, Genoa 13 considers October 2 and 3 as key dates, in which the National Convention will culminate in Valencia in which they intend to renew their political message to culminate the absorption of the remains of Citizens, as happened in the Madrid elections on May 4, try to also bring fled voters closer to Vox and also attract socialists “dissatisfied” with the management of Pedro Sánchez.

The conclave, in whose preparation the Genoa 13 plumbing is already working, aims to be a turning point in his three-year career at the head of the PP, marked by successive electoral defeats and internal discrepancies about the relationship that the party should maintain with the extreme right. The plan is to broaden its electoral base with a “more transversal” political message, according to leaders with high responsibilities in the party. For example, the popular ones even plan to hold a specific table on feminism and others on “identities”, “sustainability” and “digitization”.

The idea is to “renew” some programmatic approaches to conservative training to adapt “to the 21st century”, consolidating the “regeneration” that Casado tried to represent when he won the 2018 primaries and after three decades of Mariano Rajoy’s terms of office during which barely the party’s proposals were modified, according to those same sources. To achieve this, Casado will have to fight with the judicial calendar and with corruption scandals that surround who was his political mentor, María Dolores de Cospedal, accused along with her husband, Ignacio López del Hierro, and her chief of staff in the Ministry of Defense , José Luis Ortiz, in the Kitchen case, which investigates the parapolice espionage organized from the Interior to control Bárcenas and try to rid the PP and its main charges of responsibilities for the Gürtel plot and the party’s B box.

The crossroads of Vox

In Moncloa, beyond the impulse they trust to the social agenda that the Government wants to accelerate as much as possible before the summer break, to a great extent also to abandon the debate on pardons, they are satisfied with the reaction that there has been to the decision, that has been supported by businessmen, unions, international newspapers and even by the Episcopal Conference. “The impression we have is that every day more is understood, now more than 15 days ago and a month ago,” they point out in Moncloa about the pedagogical strategy that Sánchez launched a few days before the Supreme Court ruled on the measure of Grace.

In what the Executive is at stake now is the fruits of the new stage of dialogue that opens with the Generalitat and already anticipates that it will not be easy, although it maintains that it is the only way. “The Government takes a step forward, but the success that the Catalan conflict can be brought to fruition in a short period of time is not guaranteed,” acknowledged the spokeswoman, María Jesús Montero, at the press conference after the Council of Ministers which granted the pardon to the nine convicted pro-independence leaders.

The Government believes that Casado is at a difficult crossroads, especially due to the competition for the same electorate with Vox. “If they stopped doing politics with their guts and returned to their neurons, they would leave Colón and the discourse of the Spanish extreme right, from which they do not leave because they are in a loop,” said the first vice president, Carmen Calvo, to the PP on Wednesday during the control session. But the Socialists also consider that Casado has “a leadership problem” that explains why he wants the elections to be advanced as far as possible. “Every time he goes out with Ayuso he feels that his chair is moved, every time he passes more difficulties he has to continue in the presidency of the PP”, they argue from the Executive.

Despite his plan to make a more “transversal” party, Casado is not expected to really break with Vox as he announced during Santiago Abascal’s failed motion of censure last fall. The strategy of non-aggression to the formation with which the same electorate competes – and to which the governments of the Community and the Madrid City Council, as well as Andalusia, among others, must – is the one that the leader of the PP has been following for months. and it is the one that he plans to maintain despite the renewal of the October convention with which he intends to turn to the center.