From the beginning, the Popular Party had planned to celebrate this Sunday an act of enthronement, so that Alberto Núñez Feijóo arrived at his investiture driven by the support of the party. But José María Aznar burst onto the scene calling for a mobilization like Basta Ya [the movement to reject ETA that emerged in the Basque Country] against the possible amnesty law and everything was messed up.
The PP became entangled in an internal debate about whether it should promote a demonstration or whether a classic party rally that did not get out of control was preferable. The result is that this Sunday's event will be a hybrid between the positions of hard and moderate, on which Feijóo always navigates in an unstable equilibrium. The popular prepare a mass rally in the central square of Felipe II in Madrid, which they intend to fill with thousands of militants – the mayor of the capital, José Luis Martínez Almeida, has estimated the capacity of this urban space in 10,000 people – who will arrive in buses chartered by the party from all over the country. The PP seeks to give political oxygen to its leader before an investiture doomed to failure, scheduled for just two days later.
The pressure of the most right-wing of the PP has managed to transform Feijóo a rally designed to warm up his investiture into a protest against the amnesty in which he will not be the only protagonist. The PP of Madrid has been responsible for the logistics of an act that bears the slogan "Against amnesty, equality", and in which Feijóo will be surrounded by former presidents José María Aznar and Mariano Rajoy, as well as the territorial barons of his party. The president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, will address "a greeting" to the attendees as hostess, like the mayor, although at first it was only planned that Aznar, Rajoy and Feijóo would intervene.
To avoid problems with the PP in Madrid after some internal noise, the national leadership has decided to also give voice to Ayuso, at the risk of hogging the chants of militancy as happened on the election night of July 23, when the Madrid leader went out to the balcony of Genoa Street and the bases chanted her name. The tone of the PP's message will therefore be marked by two of the hawks of the right, Aznar and Ayuso, conditioning any attempt by Feijóo to temper the party's discourse.
Despite this, the PP leader is trying not to overdo the brakes in opposition to amnesty. Above all, because he is running for an investiture in which he wants to project a presidential image. But, also, because he is aware that he has to save bullets for when that measure is approved, if it is approved.
"We believe that we should not demonstrate before knowing what is going to be agreed," they explain in the direct team of Feijóo, where they anticipate that the leader will seek an "institutional tone" in his speech, knowing that, at his side, "Aznar will have a harder tone and Rajoy a softer one."
In recent days, the president of the PP has raised the piston, warning of the "aggravated and recidivist electoral fraud" that, according to him, Pedro Sánchez commits opening the way to amnesty. Despite this, he has promised that the PP will take to the streets today to reject this measure "with tranquility and tranquility".
The link with Vox
Feijóo will try to maintain an institutional tone also in his investiture speech two days later in Congress, although he will strike with the utmost forcefulness against the possibility that Sánchez grants another measure of grace to the Catalan separatists, according to his environment. Getting the point that pleases everyone right is not easy: Feijóo plays it before his own and strangers in the parliamentary debate. The hawks of the Popular Party will look at it with a magnifying glass. "The important thing is that the King put him in the investiture. He has two days to make a speech and do it well, "say sources of the Madrid PP.
Since the frustration that has caused in the party the insufficient result of the general elections of July 23, the PP is going through a very intense debate about its strategy. "It's a time of noise and a lot of confusion, a lot of nerves... Many interests are mixed," admits a member of the popular leadership in favor of keeping the rudder firm so as not to lose a more focused line.
"We have to know where we are going and what we want to represent. Do we want to make a gorilla opposition or an intelligent opposition?" he asks.
The more moderate soul of the PP surrounding Feijóo is aware of the growing pressure from the radicals. "Some say that we have to radicalize the discourse to bring together the entire right. But sociology does not tell us that: it tells us that if we have not won the elections by a greater margin, it is because of the That Txapote votes for you and our link with Vox. When we have left the center-right position it has harmed us," defends this member of the leading nucleus of the PP. "The Madrid noise is very powerful, but to make that speech there is already Vox. Feijóo wants to make a center-right opposition, but we will see what happens next, the movements he makes in the direction will be key, "he adds.
Changes in the dome
Feijóo plans to make major changes in the leadership of the party when there is a government. Many in the PP wait for that moment to know which thesis they are betting on. So far, however, he has opted for neither soul.
In reality, it operates in a constant equilibrium that often leads to strategic swings, such as the rectification of the dialogue with Junts per Catalunya or its commitment to seek "a new territorial fit for Catalonia" in Spain.
The hawks still believe that Feijóo lacks more fang. "Our opposition has to be even stronger and clearer," one of these voices demands. In that internal debate, the hardliners are calling for a demonstration against amnesty and not just a rally. "The people of the PP have a tremendous desire to demonstrate in the street," they defend in the Madrid party.
For the moment, Genoa has curbed these claims, with the thesis that its strategy, more focused than that of the radicals, "has managed to widen the party", because the right-wing bloc has captured votes from the left-wing bloc in the last general elections, according to its post-electoral studies.
But it's unclear how long Feijóo can endure without bowing to those siren songs. When his investiture debate passes, the leader of the popular has to decide whether or not to attend the demonstration called by the Catalan Civil Society on October 8 in Barcelona against the measure of grace for those involved in the procés. There will be Santiago Abascal, leader of Vox, uncomfortable partner for Feijóo, but also Ayuso or leaders of the PP such as Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo. The popular president still refuses to clear the unknown, aware that "whatever he does they will criticize him," says a leader of his closest environment. "If he goes, he will be criticized for emulating the photo of Colón [the act with the leaders of Vox and Ciudadanos in February 2019] and the front of the right. And if it does not go, for not wrapping the constitutionalists in Barcelona."
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