The call for early elections begins to alter very specific elements of the Spanish presidency of the EU, which begins in July. The leader of the European People's Party, the German Manfred Weber, has taken an unusual initiative on Friday, by sending a letter to the president of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, to postpone the presentation of the new president, since this year Pedro Sánchez would take office, from July to September. Hours later, the President of the Government has made public a statement – also unusual – in which he assures that it has been his own Executive that has requested that postponement, and that he did so on Tuesday. In that presentation, which is now sought to be postponed to September, the head of the Government must detail, as do all the leaders who assume the rotating presidency of the EU, the priorities of the mandate before the European Parliament. The appointment was scheduled for July 13 in Strasbourg and will most likely now be held for a date between September 11 and 14.
The Moncloa argues that "the decision was already advanced last Tuesday, May 30, to the Directorate General of Communication of the European Parliament, 24 hours after the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, announced the call for general elections." However, it was not until a few hours after Weber's request transcended when the Presidency of the Government made this step public. Government sources allege that the postponement responds to an "exercise of responsibility" by Sánchez, who wants to stay out of any use of the most political European body, Parliament. They assure that there is discomfort in the Presidency of the Government, since they suspect that the PP is taking advantage of the circumstances to muddy the campaign.
Sources of the general direction of the European Parliament to which the Government points assure that what there was on Tuesday was "a consultation" from La Moncloa in which they were asked about the possibility of taking this step and if there were precedents on the subject. Weber, for his part, has sent the letter with his request for delay directly to the president, the popular Maltese Roberta Metsola.
That letter from the European People's Party calling for the postponement had been released this very morning. The argument given by the leader of the popular parliamentary group in the European Parliament for "this slight adjustment" is the general elections, advanced to July 23. For the EPP, recovering the government in Spain is a priority, since it is the only country of the big four in which the conservatives have the possibility of returning to power, after losing it in Germany and almost disappearing in France and Italy.
The movements of support of the popular Europeans to Alberto Núñez Feijóo since he took control of Genoa have multiplied. The most striking occurred a few weeks ago, when after the forceful criticism of the European Commission to the Doñana irrigation law, Weber himself came out in a spout against the European Executive, chaired by his co-religionist and compatriot, Ursula von der Leyen, to stop the wear and tear that his Spanish colleagues were suffering. The German leader of the popular at the continental level has cultivated a very good relationship with the Spanish party. He holds frequent meetings with Esteban González-Pons, MEP and deputy secretary general of the party, and with Feijóo. And, as the letter shows, he is mobilizing to boost the PP in Spain.
Last minute of the elections, live
Asking to delay the presentation of priorities of the six-month presidency of the EU corresponding to a country (Spain has to play between July and December), is something very unusual. But it is even more important that it is done for electoral reasons. For example, last year, it was France's turn between January and June, and no one demanded that it be delayed until after the presidential elections in April.
Returning to lead the Government of Spain would give a powerful voice to the popular Europeans next year. With unfavorable polls in Poland, where the conservative family's party is up against the Law and Justice Executive (PiS), Spain is the only large country in which they can govern before the cycle changes in the European elections. These will be held in June 2024, and a few weeks later will come the distribution of four of the EU's major positions: the presidency of the European Commission, the Council and the Parliament, plus the High Representative for Foreign Policy. In Spain, party sources say, there is a "real opportunity" to touch power.
Government in nine countries
Now the popular govern and, therefore, have a voice in the Council, in nine countries. The largest of these is Romania, and Finland and Bulgaria may soon be added. On the last occasions, the position of the popular for this negotiation of distribution of European positions was very strong: they won the elections and, in addition, they had power in Germany. This was reflected in the final distribution, as shown by the fact that the Popular Party has been holding the most important position for 19 years (four legislatures): the presidency of the Commission (José Manuel Durão Barroso, Jean-Claude Juncker and now Von der Leyen).
The result of the municipal elections in Spain was greeted with euphoria in Brussels by the EPP. Its secretary general, Thanasis Bakolas, explains to EL PAÍS that they are "very happy" with the representation achieved by the conservatives. This Greek leader is full of praise for Feijóo and underlines the great support he has from the leaders of his party. "Spain is very important for Europe," he summarizes.
It's actually a fundamental goal. After next year's elections, the new positions of power in the community institutions are decided and the EPP, which now has Von der Leyen sitting in the presidency of the European Commission, in the European Parliament Metsola, and maintains key positions within the Community Executive, does not want to lose weight.
It is difficult for the statements of EPP leaders to go beyond these words of support or criticism of the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez. About the possible support for the PP of the extreme right of Vox they choose not to pronounce. "The campaign is underway. Let's let people talk," Bakolas replies when asked about this. Other sources of the organization refer to what Weber usually explains: "We will see case by case." Bakolas is a clear example of this phrase. The reaction of maximum prudence when talking about Vox turns into harsh criticism when referring to the Polish ultras of PiS, who have just approved a law that can prevent the popular leader in Warsaw, Donald Tusk, from running in the autumn elections. Vox and PiS are part of the same parliamentary group in the European Parliament.
The philosophy of "case by case" is also observed in Finland, where the popular are negotiating with ultras to come to power and, above all, in Italy. The alliance in Rome with the prime minister, the ultra Giorgia Meloni, receives the constant praise of Weber, who puts it as an example of what can happen. The red lines, says the secretary general, that are imposed on potential partners are four: they have to be pro-European Union (without further specificity), pro-NATO, pro-Ukraine (which now amounts to being critical of Putin) and respect the rule of law.
The sending of the letter is one of the support movements that can be made from outside Spain to support Feijóo, since party sources assure that the European leadership cannot get directly into the Spanish electoral campaign. In fact, they have postponed some events to avoid doing so, such as a meeting of the group that works on interreligious dialogue, which was going to meet in Galicia at the beginning of July, with the presence of the president of the Xunta, Alfonso Rueda. However, the EPP takes the opportunity to try to boost the Spaniards by stretching their room for maneuver. The party will hold its annual "retirement" meeting in Malaga (last year it was in Greece), before the election campaign begins.
Before Weber's move, Metsola, president of the Parliament, also popular and very close to the leader of the party, had already asked these days to the Spanish delegation in the EU for the Conference of Presidents, the appointment prior to each semester of a Member State with the dome of the European Parliament and all the political groups represented in it, according to EPP sources. The meeting is scheduled to be held in Spain on June 26 and 27, but there is still no confirmed location and Metsola had asked for clarification.
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