What had to happen happened, which, no matter how many lures or invitations to transfuguismo were launched, had been sung for a month. And what, except cataclysm, will happen again next Friday, when the second and final vote in Congress of the investiture of Alberto Núñez Feijóo takes place. The first was held this Wednesday with the outcome known in advance: the leader of the PP was four votes away from the absolute majority by gathering only 172, his own, those of Vox and those of the only deputies of the Canarian Coalition (CC) and Union of the Navarrese People (UPN). Feijóo came face to face with the rest of the Chamber, 178 seats that bring together the left and Catalan, Basque and Galician nationalisms, in the latter case without distinction between conservatives and progressives. The only uncertainty in the vote carried out loudly was caused by the error of the socialist deputy Herminio Sancho, who first babbled a yes, to correct immediately.
The investiture debate of Alberto Núñez Feijóo, in pictures
If the defeat was taken for granted, the debate – in the absence of the last vote, as devoid of intrigue as the first – has allowed Feijóo to catapult his figure as head of the opposition and the PP to close ranks with its leader to silence those who speculated with his internal questioning. The fervent ovations that his parliamentarians have dedicated to him in the two days of the debate have left no doubt in that regard. By contrast, the avenues to seek allies among the ranks of conservative nationalism on Wednesday enlisted in the majority of Sánchez have been closed even more. Especially in the case of the formation that Feijóo has pursued most hard, the PNV, whose spokesman, Aitor Esteban, concluded his dialectical crossing in front of the popular leader with an irony: "Today you have made more friends."
Almost none of the groups in front of him refused to attack Feijóo, predicting an ephemeral leadership. "He is putting on the face of Pablo Casado," Gabriel Rufián, of ERC, had told him the day before. His countryman Néstor Rego, of the BNG, also struck out there on Wednesday: "This is his political funeral." Rufián and other spokesmen had warned him against the ovations of his own: "Do not trust. Casado was also applauded until he was stabbed." But the truth is that the performance of Feijóo on the initial day of the debate had already left his deputies very satisfied and in this second appointment the signs of enthusiasm and thunderous applause multiplied.
The session resumed with the intervention of the two Basque nationalist groups, EH Bildu and PNV. Feijóo said he did not plan to respond to the spokeswoman of the Abertzale left, Mertxe Aizpurua, but that he had changed his mind when he heard her. The candidate for president changed his plans so much that he dedicated more minutes to EH Bildu than to anyone else, while the clapping of his bench accompanied him like an incessant soundtrack. Aizpurua did not beat around the bush and made it clear from the first moment that his group is with the majority that supports Sánchez, whom he hopes will implement a "plurinational and deeply social" agenda. The vote of the Abertzale left, he stressed, will always be used to confront the "denialist, recentralizing and reactionary" axis.
"I would be very worried if he voted for us," replied Feijóo, who took advantage of Aizpurua's criticism of the Transition to snap at him: "The regime of '78 is the one that allows them to be here despite everything they have done." Between ovation and ovation, the candidate extended talking about the crimes of ETA, Josu Ternera or those convicted of terrorism in the lists of Bildu. And there was no lack, of course, the thrust to Pedro Sánchez: "You have to have a lot of courage to agree with those who do not condemn the murders of your party colleagues."
More problematic was for Feijóo the duel with Aitor Esteban. The PNV spokesman reiterated that his group had made it very clear from the beginning that it would not support him. On the one hand, for its pacts with Vox and on the other, for the PP's own speech: "Is it typical of a state party to launch harangues against half the country?" Feijóo replied by insinuating that the PNV has hardly achieved anything useful from its alliance with Sánchez and sticking its finger into the wound of its internal competition with Bildu. Esteban's answer was short and blunt. He began by telling him that "he would not deserve a reply", reminded him that the popular have voted with Bildu half of the laws approved in the Basque Parliament and finished with that warning that this was not exactly the beginning of a great friendship. Feijóo tried to fix it at the end of the plenary session by approaching to speak in private.
From the Mixed Group came to the PP the support of CC and UPN. The Canarian deputy Cristina Valido justified it because the popular have accepted all the demands raised for the islands, although she said: "That does not mean that we assume their ideology." The support of the Navarrese outsiders is fully ideological. "Those who want to destroy Spain cannot govern it," summarized his deputy Alberto Catalán. The refusal among the smaller formations was that of the BNG, which became entangled with Feijóo in a discussion about his legacy in the Xunta, peppered with express allusions by both parties to the regional elections scheduled for next year in Galicia, where nationalism leads the opposition to the PP.
Among the conclusions left by the investiture, one of the most relevant is to verify the new times of cordiality that have opened between PP and Vox. This was evidenced by Feijóo in his final words, when on two occasions he became the representative of "11 million voters", those who add his party and the extreme right. The candidate said goodbye with a new recrimination to Sánchez for having remained on the sidelines of the debate: "Here we have all portrayed ourselves, with our words and our silences." The final chapter will be in two days and nothing indicates that it will depart from the script written this Wednesday.
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