Feijóo surprises the PP with a council of advisers "outside the party"
No one knew it apart from his closest team. The only one he seems to trust, at least for now, is the imminent president of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo. This Tuesday, the Galician leader announced with a press release his first decision as the future leader of the party: "Create an Office parallel to the structure of the Popular Party to channel contributions from people outside politics." The inverted commas is from the official statement sent to journalists on the PP letterhead that it uses in the campaign for the sole candidate for this weekend's extraordinary congress.
But in the provisional leadership of the party they did not know. Neither in the Organizing Committee, as confirmed by elDiario.es. Feijóo's announcement just three days before the Seville conclave is held increases doubts within a PP made by and for the resigning president, Pablo Casado.
The "secrecy" of the Galician, who presumes that in his 13 years at the head of the Xunta the name of one of his councilors has never been leaked before he announced it, has a party that in 2018 faced a deep renovation after the departure of Mariano Rajoy. Feijóo will be able to modify the organizational structure of the party as of this Sunday, when the National Executive Committee of the PP will meet for the first time. Although he has no obligation to point out this weekend in Seville to the person who will occupy the General Secretariat, the congress must vote for 35 of the members of one of the key bodies in the internal life of the PP. From the members of that list will come the future, or future, number two.
But the current parliamentary group is something else. It is defined from top to bottom by the outgoing leader. In the two elections of 2019, he made use of the PP statutes, which give the national leadership the last word in the electoral lists at the state level. Also in those of different levels, although here the negotiation capacity (or resistance) of the territories is greater. This was verified in the elections of May 4, 2021 with the dispute over the inclusion of Toni Cantó in the lists of Isabel Díaz Ayuso. A first outbreak of the internal war that has ended with Casado and his number two, Teodoro García Egea, out of Genoa.
Feijóo will have to operate with this parliamentary group for an indefinite period of time, although everything indicates that the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, will hurry up the legislature as much as he can. The limit, the end of 2023. That is to say, the president of the PP will be able to make the party he wants, but the faces and voices that will defend him in Congress are what they are. And they will be for the next year and a half. In recent weeks there has been a rotation of different speakers taking advantage of the control sessions that the party has assumed as a kind of trial and error to define the future direction of the parliamentary group.
Even if he himself goes to the Senate, his face-to-face encounters with Sánchez will be limited. And he won't be able to directly raise his opposition agenda at the state of the nation debate, scheduled for before the summer. He will have to do it through an intermediary, and at the moment not even the current spokesperson and interim general coordinator, Cuca Gamarra, is guaranteed to keep his position.
However, the PP is immersed in the preparation of the XX National Congress (extraordinary). And in the midst of an organizational maelstrom, with the Government approving an anti-crisis plan, Gamarra preparing his confrontation on Wednesday with Pedro Sánchez in his appearance before the Plenary to report on the European Council and the crisis in Ukraine, and the debate focused on economic measures to alleviate the increase in the price of the shopping basket, Feijóo surprised with the announcement of this "Office parallel to the structure of the Popular Party".
This structure will not answer to the leaders of the PP, only to the future president. It will be him who decides who integrates it and who does not. The idea, according to the statement, is to include "independent professionals" from outside who "want to complement and improve" the "ideology" of the party "from civil life." According to the press release, everything arises "before the proliferation of professionals who (...) have shown interest in collaborating with the new project." "It will serve to seek political solutions from outside politics," the statement added.
The "Office of the President", he continues, "will make available to the party the work" presented by the people summoned by Feijóo, who will not necessarily be known. "It will be a discreet organ, without a communicative profile", he affirms, and "it will have permanent members, its composition will be dynamic and it will be open to occasional collaborations".
The Office of the President "will also have contributions from people currently or recently integrated into the PP, but in any case it will have the door open to all kinds of political and ideological sensitivities," says the press release sent on Tuesday by Feijóo's team.
This last affirmation contrasts with the organic uniqueness that will be seen in the congress this weekend. It is usual for the parties to invite other formations, more or less ideologically related, to their conclaves. But in the XX National Congress of the PP there will only be PP.
Sources from the Organizing Committee chaired by Esteban González Pons assured this Monday that the classic invitations to other matches have not been issued. "The PP wants to be the only center-right party," the same sources point out.
Yes, that invitation was sent "for education" and "on an individual basis" to the councilors who live with the PP in the Andalusian Government chaired by Juan Manuel Moreno. Andalusia must face its elections this year and, after the stumble of Castilla y León, everything is nerves in the Palacio de San Telmo. Moreno needs Ciudadanos to resist Vox's push so as not to find himself in the same situation as Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, who has agreed to co-govern with the extreme right that is already restoring his confidence by delaying his investiture beyond Feijóo's rise.
An unappetizing scenario for the Galician, who wanted that agreement with those of Santiago Abascal to be related to Casado's mandate, not his. In the PP, the words of the president of the party at European level, Donald Tusk, who attacked the idea of negotiating with the extreme right. The German ambassador in Spain also it has done.
"We compete with them", they justified on Monday from the organization of the congress. But the invitation has fallen on deaf ears. Neither Juan Marín nor the rest of the Ciudadanos councilor will attend the congress, reports Daniel Cela. Marín did participate in the Andalusian PP congress at the end of 2021, but these are big words for someone who is in the national leadership of his party, who was the victim of a hostile takeover bid by the previous leadership of the PP, with Egea and Fran Hervías at the head of the operation.
Feijóo has assured since he took the step of replacing Casado supported by the barons that he wants to recover the party "of 11 million votes", in reference to the absolute majority that Mariano Rajoy achieved in November 2011. References to the refoundation congress of 1990, which was held in Seville and which gave full powers to José María Aznar to lead the transition from Manuel Fraga's Popular Alliance to the PP that took him to Moncloa.
Now they don't want to talk about "refoundation", but they do want to talk about "restart". To do so, the future president of the PP has already made his first decision: "An advisory committee outside the organic structure of the party."