Since 2012, when her father died in Paris, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo has held the title of Marchioness of Casa Fuerte. Then she had been linked to the PP for six years, in which she held positions in the teams of José María Aznar and Mariano Rajoy as a persevering and often annoying bumblebee, the supposed bright icing on a cake that does not finish curdling in that formation. Pablo Casado fell, like his predecessors in the leadership of the PP, into the spell of pretending a spirit without complexes, to which he went from offering any candidacy just a year ago, including the symbolic mayor of Madrid, to defenestrating it by fast track one afternoon in August.
For a year, Casado's star signing had had to deal with the head of the party apparatus, the general secretary, Teodoro García Egea, for those bureaucratic issues that bother him so much: material resources or advisers, the placement of secondary in some positions or the parliamentary initiatives in which the party wanted to play a trick. She couldn't take it anymore and raised her voice. Neither Casado endured it and dismissed her withering last Monday,
For a few years, after his previous resignation, in 2015, to the seat of the PP at the time of Rajoy - whom he accused of "stopping doing politics" and lacking leadership - Álvarez de Toledo not only became ideologically disenchanted with the party, but that he even stopped paying his membership fees in the Madrid neighborhood of Salamanca, the epicenter of popular Spain. It was at that time when he warned of the irruption of Ciudadanos, which he saw as very interesting, especially in Catalonia, to fight the nationalists without shame, one of his great obsessions. Now something similar has happened. Married does not know very well what to do with her, it is not very clear what he has offered to appease her, and Álvarez de Toledo has resumed vacations with his two daughters to rethink his entire future.
Allergic to the device . Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo is not interested in the party apparatuses, the struggles for the proximity to the power of the leaders, the organic positions, the influence of the territorial barons, the deployment of collaborators in different positions to extend their dominions. She understands how politics works in Spain, but she doesn't like it. It seems tacky. When her closest team alerted her to the relevance of these factors, which were classic in most games, she despised advice. She believed, as on other occasions, that she had the favor of the leader, in this case her friend, whom she now qualifies as “Mr. Casado” since her dismissal. And she thought that this was enough for her to "do politics", transform things, impose an uninhibited style of opposition and, above all, raise the "cultural battle" to the left on supposedly taboo issues such as feminism or historical memory.
When Casado went to look for her a year and a half ago at his intellectual refuge in the FAES de Aznar, where he calmly handled the international area, he had to insist to convince her to return to the arena. He offered him whatever he wanted. Various candidacies. Among them that of the Madrid City Council. She did not accept it.
The popular Messi . The first poisoned challenge for the new signing was to head in the general elections of April 2019 the PP's candidacy for Barcelona. Everything except a gift, as she herself verified shortly after assuming the order. That was what he considers the first deception. She went to the first campaign meeting and the strategists told her there, to her surprise, what the internal polls really predicted that no one had anticipated: zero seats. Panic in the room. Álvarez de Toledo replied with one of his arrogant fits: "It won't be like that, I'll go out."
The PP had added six deputies for Barcelona in 2016 and in April 2019 it crashed effectively, but Álvarez de Toledo obtained his act. The only one. Six months later, when the elections were repeated, the Cayetana effect that Casado then boasted about - he came to present her in Barcelona as "our Messi" - doubled that result with a commitment that he repeated at all rallies: "I will not abandon you", after suggesting that the Rajoy government had condescended excessively to the nationalists. Those words now resonate in his mind as he decides whether or not to keep his seat.
From Billy the Kid to feminism . Over the last few months, Álvarez de Toledo's team in Congress has accumulated complaints for what it understood as interference and attempts at total control of the parliamentary group by García Egea as the highest representative of the apparatus. One of these episodes occurred on June 11, when Congress approved with a large majority of 207 votes a proposal to urge the Government to withdraw decorations from Francoist personalities, such as the torturer policeman Antonio González Pacheco, Billy el Niño . The popular deputy Adolfo Suárez Illana distanced himself from the discipline of the PP and voted against, alleging that the initiative questioned the Transition led by his father. Álvarez de Toledo understood Suárez Illana's arguments and discussed them with Casado. But the PP did not dare to vote against and chose to abstain.
There were more episodes like this. In November 2019, the PP finally adhered to a generic declaration against sexist crimes promoted in Congress by left-wing parties. The popular spokesperson considered her maximalist and little nuanced, but the party did not want to stand out either. Only Vox did. In public, Álvarez de Toledo distanced herself in her own way: "I am an Amazon feminist, from the school of Camille Paglia." And it forced many to go to the encyclopedia to find out about that American essayist who has been defined as a "post-feminist."
Outcast in the pandemic. When President Pedro Sánchez raised the need for major State agreements, in the manner of the La Moncloa Pacts, to cement the reconstruction of the country after the pandemic, the PP refused to play that game. One day, at a meeting, Álvarez de Toledo suggested to Casado that the right place to forge these consensuses should be the Parliament. The leader of the PP thus proposed it to Sánchez in one of his few conversations and he accepted. What was surprising later was that the PP created in the party a committee on the crisis from which Álvarez de Toledo was excluded. And when the Reconstruction Commission was formed in the Cortes, it was again relegated in favor of a calmer voice, that of the former president of the Chamber and former minister Ana Pastor. Álvarez de Toledo privately reproached Casado with all sincerity. But his collaborators relate these episodes to maintain that he is not "undisciplined", because he compromised on some things. Although not in all.
Contempt of the apparatus. To the ideological divergences, there were added what Álvarez de Toledo's team understands as contempt suffered from the first minute in which she was appointed spokesperson for the imposition of Casado in the face of pressure from the PP apparatus and the warnings of various territorial barons. These leaders criticized her before Casado for being inflexible and too arrogant to be advised. One of them, Galician President Alberto Núñez Feijóo, publicly censured her and excluded her from his last autonomous campaign.
In November, after the general elections, speculation about his possible replacement began, but the party ratified it in office. The PP, however, took weeks to inform her that her hitherto chief of staff and person of the highest confidence, Pilar Marcos, had to leave that function because she considered it incompatible with her recently acquired deputy act. Something very similar to what happened this month, when, with the same incompatibility argument, they imposed the replacement of the head of the legal department of the parliamentary group, the veteran Gabriel Elorriaga, by a journalist from the Casado cabinet.
In his farewell, Álvarez de Toledo aired another discrepancy with the party. He criticized Casado for having resumed negotiations with the Government and the PSOE in July to complete the renewal of institutional positions pending for months and, especially, of the General Council of the Judiciary. The already exported voice adhered to the party's electoral program, which proposes to return to the system of the first years of democracy, when members of the judiciary were elected by the judges themselves, without the intervention of Parliament.
The last conversation. The future of the popular spokesperson seemed less and less clear. During the past week, the information in the media about her clashes with García Egea followed one another. On Sunday, EL PAÍS published an interview in which she distanced herself from some positions of the party on issues such as relations with the PSOE or the departure of the king emeritus from Spain. Casado called her on Monday. They were two hours of tense conversation in which the party leader reproached him that the statements to this newspaper questioned his authority. The rope was finally breaking.
Álvarez de Toledo, following that appointment, did not hide. He summoned the media in front of the lions of Congress and there he listed all the points of friction that he had discussed in private with Casado, as he likes, in the style that was marked in his years as a strict and elitist boarding school at New College, Oxford , where he graduated in Modern History and was directed his thesis by the prestigious historian and Hispanicist John H. Elliot. That rigid education and that discipline of thought does not admit, in her opinion, certain types of concessions not even to compromise with writing errors in the memoirs of her mentor, José María Aznar, who she herself supervised.
After his dismissal, the leadership of the PP reported that Casado had offered to be the secretary general of the new foundation of the party, Concordia y Libertad, presided over by Adolfo Suárez Illana. In Álvarez de Toledo's environment, they clarify that the offer was not exactly like that and they regret that Casado had not raised it before, when it could have seemed interesting and appropriate for his academic training and for the imperative intellectual needs of a PP very empty of gray brains. Now he's thinking about it. On the one hand, he would be uncomfortable leaving his seat “out of responsibility” with the more than 255,000 Barcelonan voters to whom he gave his word that he would not leave them in the lurch. But neither does she want to be relegated to the henhouse of the forgotten deputies or rewarded with institutional positions like Suárez Illana himself, fourth secretary of the Board of Congress.
In the leadership of the PP they understand, as Casado ratified on Thursday before the board of directors, including Álvarez de Toledo - this time through the telematic and silent means - that "party politics is not a weakness of character, but an act of courage, a sacrifice in favor of a common and superior good. It is not submission or lack of sincerity, it is nobility. It is a free and profound declaration of personal conscience that incorporates the will to compromise, agree and even remain in a minority for public service ”.