Thursday, September 29

The PP of Granada closes in gray the year in which it expelled itself from the mayor’s office

The PP of Granada has completed the squaring of the circle in 2021. Twelve months ago, the panorama was significantly different from what the formation has today. Then, the City Council of the capital ruled in coalition with Citizens and with the irruption of the new provincial president, Francisco Rodríguez, they blew airs of change that tried to bury the hatchet high from the ‘Operation Nazarí’ and begin to walk towards a future that today seems more uncertain than ever. Thus, the popular ones have gone in 2021 from being the party that has governed Granada for the longest time in this 21st century, to being walking between irrelevance.

That perception is owned by their own and strangers. The affiliates of the Granada Popular Party have been weathering the storm as best they can for a long time, trying to flee from internal wars that began years ago and have not yet been sealed. Since José Torres Hurtado abruptly left the Granada Mayor’s Office together with the Urban Planning leadership accused of being the head of a “criminal organization”, according to the Police in the framework of the ‘Operation Nazarí’, the PP brand has not done more than sink at the foot of the Alhambra. The one who was then provincial president, Sebastián Pérez, began a forward flight that claimed a primary battle with the former councilman of Hurtado, Juan García Montero, which opened the party on the channel in the first public evidence of a total disagreement between two ways of understanding PP. That gap had been glimpsed on previous occasions, but it had never come to the fore as it did then.

García Montero and his team accused Pérez of tripping him politically and preventing him from contesting the presidency. The case went to court and Pérez was unscathed because Justice found that Juan García Montero no longer had reasons to continue arguing about the primaries since he had left the party. That was Sebastián Pérez’s last victory in the PP. A triumph that turned out to be Pyrrhic because his weight within the party was already low and his influence had been bordered by the new national presidency of Pablo Casado. Months before, the national leadership of the Popular Party and that of Citizens decided to agree against Pérez himself and put Luis Salvador as mayor, despite the fact that he had obtained fewer votes and fewer councilors than the popular leader. A script twist that has ended up having its echo in 2021.

The beginning of the end

Sebastián Pérez resigned at the end of 2020 to his functions within the Government team and paid the ground so that his party and Cs would have to be concerned for June 2021. He always defended that he had agreed with Luis Salvador that there would be an alternation for On that date and in the political lies in Granada, it was taken for granted that Pérez would end up fulfilling his threat. Something that ended up happening in the spring when the former president of the PP announced his departure from the party, resigning to be part of the municipal group and warned that, if the popular did not force the alternation, he would do his part to make it happen. In fact, he did not rule out in any case supporting a motion of no confidence in favor of the PSOE, although that option was never on the table. Thus began the beginning of the end of the PP in the Government of the city of Granada.

The new provincial presidency of the Granada Popular Party, elected in March without rivals and with the support of only 2% of the affiliates, took the gauntlet and, as it would turn out, dragged itself and the municipal group into the abyss. With an erratic strategy and with nothing agreed to get out of the situation, there were cascading resignations to leave Luis Salvador alone with one of his councilors, the mayor of Sports José Antonio Huertas. In the PP they hoped that that move would go out of their way so that Salvador would end up giving the witness to one of his councilors, seeing himself in an absolute minority to be able to govern the city.

However, the then mayor of Ciudadanos not only was not daunted by the challenge, but also stretched the situation until he managed to seal a pact with the PSOE that dug the political grave of the popular Granada residents who are in the City Council. Some of them, such as the spokesman César Díaz, ended up being singled out for publicly leading a battle against Luis Salvador that was not understood by the party’s rank and file, and on the same day that the socialist Francisco Cuenca took up the baton of command for the PSOE, the lived a schism between the leaders of the PP of the City Council and the provincial leadership just a few meters from the Consistory.

In July, the adventure of the Popular Party of Granada ended, which had managed to return to the mayor’s office after losing it to the ‘Operation Nazarí’. Internal sources of the formation maintain that at that time the municipal course was also definitively lost. Those who remain as councilors have a difficult time being able to repeat in the 2023 lists, especially since it is not yet known who will take the reins. Although from within the PP it is taken for granted that Francisco Rodríguez will continue because there is no one who wants to be in his position as president at a time like this, the name of the Minister of Development of the Junta de Andalucía, Marifrán Carazo, appears in such a way recurrent. Some pools place her as a candidate for the Granada City Council and other sources say that she is one of the people that Rodríguez consults on the day-to-day of the match.

Organic weakness

However, at the provincial level the outlook is not exactly encouraging in this 2021. The Granada leadership of the PP hardly has support among its militants. The internal rupture that the formation is experiencing means that there are affiliates and important positions in some municipalities such as Otura that have decided to move away from the presidency. They convey the message that Francisco Rodríguez is not knowing how to lead the renewal and that his performance at the head of the party does not differ so much from what was done until he arrived. In fact, the opening of the political course that was held in September was a good example of the little support that this leadership has. The meeting, held in Motril, did not have relevant organic positions in the local or regional structure, beyond the specific presence of Marifrán Carazo and the secretary of PP-A, Loles López. Party sources defined that event as a reflection that Rodríguez does not have the pulse of the party.

Just a few weeks later, the primaries to preside over the Motril PP resulted in a controversy that is still in the Prosecutor’s Office today. The mayor of Motril and aspiring local leader, Luisa García Chamorro, had allegedly appropriated public money from the municipal group to pay a sentence for insults years before. That came to light by a leak of members of the popular and the councilor acknowledged that it had happened, but that they had not told her that it was something irregular. However, despite the fact that Chamorro and Rodríguez had supported each other due to the loss of confidence of the rank and file towards them, the provincial leadership of the party decided to leave the mayor of Motril alone and avoid speaking out on an issue that fully affected someone who it had been the president’s personal gamble.

With that chapter still in court, the provincial structure was delighted in November when the PP-A held its primaries in Granada. What was to be an appointment to regain trust among the affiliates, was settled again with Francisco Rodríguez participating with a low profile and totally overshadowed by the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso and his Andalusian namesake, Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla. If Rodríguez went through Congress, he is barely remembered. The closing party of the primaries organized by the popular of Granada in a nightclub in the capital transcended more than its message. Which shows that the party is facing a gray situation about its future.

No candidate for 2023

And there, in the future, is where the PP will play its survival in Granada. With the municipal group written off and making a political opposition that sources from the formation itself recognize is irrelevant, to the point that they have been a step behind Vox in some matters of less importance, the militants remove the leaves to find out what will happen in this year that should be the start-up of a new structure at least in the capital. With the Andalusian elections scheduled for this 2022, it is not clear that Marifrán Carazo risks ceasing to be a councilor (if the PP repeats at the head of the Board) for contesting a mayoralty that the PSOE seems to have tied at least one more mandate. For this reason, other figures emerge such as that of the general director of the Alhambra, Rocío Díaz, and that of the representative of the Junta de Andalucía in Madrid, Vicente Azpitarte. The two sound like potential candidates for 2023.

Díaz could already be mayor of Granada when she was a PP councilor under the command of José Torres Hurtado. When he left the mayor’s office for the ‘Operation Nazarí’, Díaz sounded like a possible interim councilor, although that finally did not happen. Now, her image is further removed from the daily political tone and, although she does not collect majority sympathies, she is still considered a candidate who could save the furniture of the PP in local elections that can be very tough.

On the other hand, Vicente Azpitarte is one of the most mediatic and well-known names in the popular structure and he hardly has any political heritage other than his role as ambassador of the Junta de Andalucía. This curriculum opens the door for him to be able to approach the different factions that today are part of the PP of Granada and that have before them a few months of crossing the desert. The Andalusian elections will serve to measure in a certain way the political pulse that Rodríguez may retain, but 2022 is already seen as the year in which many things must change in the popular ones.