The Madrid right began to gnash its teeth when Alberto Núñez Feijóo spoke of "cordial bilingualism" at the PP congress. Everything seems more friendly with the appropriate adjective (cordial), but there are words before which the conservatives in Spain are willing to take the shotgun and load it with a bang. Bilingualism is one of them. In the case of Vox, the attitude is more belligerent. Everything that is not Spain, Spain, Spain, should be illegal.
Your worst omens they met a few days ago with an interview in El Mundo to Elías Bendodo, who occupies two positions: right-hand man of Juanma Moreno Bonilla in Andalusia and of Feijóo in Madrid for being general coordinator of the PP. He is not a guy who passed by, but someone whose statements are examined by the party leaders to know where the new times are blowing. And what they thought they saw was a storm with strong gusty winds.
With the confusion typical of someone who seeks to protect the boss by getting into a puddle without knowing how deep it is, Bendodo defended that Feijóo referred to Catalonia as a nationality during a visit to Barcelona. "Let this be clear. Catalonia is indeed a nationality of the Spanish state, like any other autonomous community," he said, expressing not an unorthodox opinion, but an unquestionable fact that appears in the Constitution. Bendodo sank into the puddle when he innocently included Aznar in the equation: "I have heard Aznar publicly affirm that Spain was a plurinational, pluricultural and plurilingual State. That is a reality".
The concept of a multinational state has nothing to do with what the PP maintains and that does not improve it if Aznar ever cited it in his time as president when he needed the votes of the CiU to govern.
Bendodo's stumble is understandable if we take into account that he was responding to an attempt to maintain something quite obvious, but that it is not so obvious anymore. In theory, in 2022 there should be no problem talking about nationalities, as Feijóo did, when that concept appears in the 1978 Constitution and the PP considers that no one defends the Magna Carta with as much purity of heart as they do. Of course, that means ignoring the evolution of the right in the territorial debate since Aznar's second term, something that was already aggressively manifested during the Zapatero government and has exploded in the years of Pedro Sánchez in Moncloa. Namely, Spain breaks and has broken so many times that it seems unbelievable that any piece of it remains intact.
The concept of nationality was a neologism invented in the constitutional negotiations that made the agreement between the UCD, PSOE and CiU possible. It sounded like a nation, but it wasn't exactly a nation. The terms of nationalities and regions made it possible to recognize the singular historical reality of the Basques and Catalans, just as the nationalists saw it.
The rejection of Manuel Fraga and the Alianza Popular deputies was complete. There are phrases of the time that now can even make us laugh. "I have investigated grammatically, sociologically and politically the concept of nationality and I have not been able to find a way to detach it from the concept of nation," said Licinius of the Source, AP deputy and former Franco minister. That was the idea, and that is why it was so difficult for the Franco supporters to swallow.
The PP likes to boast that they are the true heirs of the UCD – how else to justify the mystery that Adolfo Suárez Illana's presence on their electoral lists entails? – although in this matter they have suffered a regression that has made them recover AP's ancient DNA.
an ABC article showed extreme perplexity into which the Catalan PP plunged when listening to Feijóo in Barcelona. "We are left in a state of shock," said a high-ranking PP official in Catalonia. If they manage to open a copy of the Constitution, they get a stroke.
To assess the extent to which the PP's performance is conditioned by the rejection of the autonomous State with which Vox makes a flag throughout Spain, these sources complained that Feijóo's speech "dismantles our strategy." There is no denying his honesty. The party that promoted the collection of millions of signatures throughout Spain against the reform of the Statute ended up presenting Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo as a candidate in Barcelona as the necessary battering ram against the independentistas and sank into misery at the polls. Even so, they are not able to understand why the Catalans have been reducing them to the minimum expression in the elections.
Feijóo wanted to settle all this noise by going to the basics. In the same visit to Ceuta on Tuesday, he already made it clear how he gets tangled up in explanations that are not very coherent when he leaves the issues that he controls. As president of the Xunta, he could choose the topics he spoke about. As the leader of the PP, he has to be with everyone and questions rain down on him from all sides. Hence, regarding the reform of the abortion law approved by the Government, he came out with a surreal deduction which is why if a 16-year-old girl cannot legally drink alcohol, she should not be able to abort without her parents' permission either.
On nationalities and other territorial matters, Feijóo stopped improvising and, after admitting that the reference to the plurinational State that Bendodo had made was an error that has now been corrected, he recited Article 2 of the Constitution from memory, which includes "the right to autonomy of nationalities and regions". For the aznaristas who began to growl when they learned what he had said in Barcelona, Feijóo had a clear message about the references to nationalities in the constitutional text: "That has been, is and will be the ideology of our party for as long as it exists ".
If all this controversy has surprised the Galician, it will be because he has not set foot in Madrid much. Or because he has not been very attentive to the path taken long ago by his party, which is not likely. A part of the PP has been left confused and concerned by a reference by its leader to political concepts that were assumed without hysteria twenty or thirty years ago. But his leaders have been creating a creature inside him, encouraged by the media that support them, and in the end it turns out that he looks a lot like Licinio de la Fuente.