When Donald Tusk was asked about the pacts between the Popular Party and Vox to govern Castilla y León, he said that it was a “capitulation”, and that hopefully it was “an incident” and not “a trend”. Three months later, when the Polish Tusk is no longer at the head of the main European political family and has been replaced by the Bavarian Manfred Weber, the answer is quite different.
Donald Tusk, president of the European PP, disapproves of the pact with Vox in Castilla y León
It is different to such an extent that Weber not only does not mention Vox in his response, but also asks the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to answer for his investiture allies.
Do you still think that the pacts with Vox are a capitulation as your predecessor in office said or is the position of the European People’s Party changing? “The criterion for all future cooperation with all parties at European level is that the perspective of the rule of law is respected. As for Spain,” responds Weber, “let me stress that Sánchez has some questions to answer. He is working with separatist movements that do not respect the Constitution of the country. This is also a debate in Spain”.
Of course, Weber has defended that the European PP is “the party of the State of Law” and has given as an example the march of Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz and Tusk’s own candidacy against the Polish PiS, Vox’s main ally in Europe: “I am very proud that today the PPE is the party of the rule of law. We, Donald Tusk and I as a group leader [en el Parlamento Europeo], we have closed the Viktor Orbán chapter. And you have to look at Romania, Croatia, the Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia, we are governing, and also in the Czech Republic, where we expel the corrupt. And in Slovakia we now have Eduard Heger as Prime Minister, who wants to join the EPP family. And in Poland Donald Tusk is the real face of the opposition against that, it is not socialists or liberals in the countries of central and eastern Europe who are in it. We’re doing it as EPP, and I’m proud of it. There is no debate for me that we are going to continue like this. That is also the criterion for all future cooperation with all parties at European level, that this perspective of the rule of law is respected.”
But on March 10, when Tusk was still president of the European People’s Party, he was very clear in rejecting the PP pact with Vox in Castilla y León for a coalition government. The former president of the European Council assured that the agreement was a “capitulation” and that he hoped that it was “an accident” and not a “trend”. Tusk made the remarks after a meeting of the organization’s European leaders ahead of the EU summit in Versailles.
“For me it was a sad surprise. Casado, our colleague, has participated in the meeting, has resigned from his post,” said Tusk, “it was a personal guarantee not to reach government pacts with the extreme right and preserve the Spanish PP in the center right, without flirting with the extreme right”.
“We hope that it is just an incident or an accident, not a trend”, said Tusk in relation to the agreement in Castilla y León: “We have to fight those desires, it supposes a capitulation”.
The French and German right have habitually reneged on pacts with the extreme right. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel was a champion of this position during her term. She even renounced her party governing one of the German regions because, to do so, they had to agree with the Alternative for Germany. That Government, of the land of Thuringia, ended up in the hands of Die Linke, the German left.
Now, however, Weber’s speech is moving away from Tusk’s at a time when his allies in France and Italy are at electoral lows and when the competition in the conservative zone is between various extreme right-wingers. The European PP has already slipped Silvio Berlusconi into its ranks after the Italian Christian Democracy imploded.
Is Matteo Salvini closer to the EPP now that Forza Italia is in low hours and that Fratelli d’Italia, allies of Vox, surpasses him on the right? And in France? What can end up happening to Marine Le Pen, now that Les Republicanains are in the doldrums, they have changed the name of their party and a competitor from the extreme right like Éric Zemmour has emerged?