Feijóo's PP is entangled with "plurinationality" in its turn in Catalonia one month after the Andalusians

“For a nationality like the Catalan, the option that is most in line with the preservation of stability and its identity is the recovery of its leadership in Spain and the contribution to a vigorous State and European Union”. The phrase pronounced by Alberto Núñez Feijóo in a recent conference before the senior staff of the Cercle d'Economia, one of the most powerful business organizations in Catalonia, haunts its author ten days later. And it threatens to be one of the central elements of the imminent Andalusian elections. The reference to article 2 of the 1978 Constitution it was quickly used by the extreme right to attack the Galician leader, who has responded since then on several occasions with a closed defense of the State of the autonomies. Your number three and right hand of Juan Manuel Moreno in AndalusiaElías Bendodo, has taken it to the extreme affirm in The world that “Spain is a multinational State”.

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The president of the PP wants to relocate his party in the Catalan political scene and retrace the path taken in 2017. It was not the only time that Feijóo spoke in those terms before an audience devoted to the Galician's economic theses, as the not very subtle words showed from the president of the Cercle, Javier Faus, to the leader of the PP who captured a microphone that remained open after his speech. "I hope I didn't say too many drawbacks," Feijóo said. "No, spectacular," replied the businessman. At another point in his speech, the leader of the opposition maintained: "An autonomous community, a historical nationality such as Galicia, Catalonia and Euskadi, dialogues, agrees or disagrees with the central government, not with the State."

Vox's reaction arrived ipso facto. And, at his wheel, followed that of Citizens. “The Spanish nation must recover its self-esteem. And stop using the language that those who want to destroy it cling to”, tweeted the extreme right, ignoring that the term Feijóo used is expressly included in the Spanish Fundamental Law, as the PP reminded him on the same social network.

The Constitution is based on the indissoluble unity of Spain, and recognizes and guarantees the right to autonomy of the nationalities and regions that comprise it. (Art.2)

Most Spaniards have respected it for more than 40 years. https://t.co/L2TXAMLezi pic.twitter.com/8csRPWZmao

— Popular Party (@populares) May 6, 2022

Feijóo's twist

Feijóo's thesis is not new in the PP. Not much less. It has been defended by the party, intermittently and depending on its needs, until the Catalan independence movement erupted and a secession process was launched that reached its peak in October 2017, with the brief declaration of independence that it starred in. former president Carles Puigdemont. Then came October 3 and the king's speech; the application of article 155 of the Constitution and the triumph of independence in the consequent electoral call; the imprisonment, prosecution and conviction of political and social leaders of the secessionist movement. And in the middle of it all, the irruption of Vox in the institutions in the Andalusian elections of 2018.

Four years after those elections, the PP has confirmed that it has practically no space to govern without the support of the extreme right. Even in Madrid, where Isabel Díaz Ayuso achieved a resounding victory in May 2021, her policies depend on Vox even though she governs alone. In the PP they also seem to have realized that her anti-Catalan speech, staged in that Photo of Columbus in 2019, far from joining their ranks has consecutively fed to Citizens and, after its collapse, to the extreme right led by Santiago Abascal.

That image of February 2019 was produced in a concentration contrary to a process of dialogue between the central government and the Catalan Government that tried to redirect the complex institutional, economic and social situation generated by the shock of previous years. Present at the event, without seeking prominence, were two of the PP barons who in 2018 had supported Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría's option over Casado's: Alberto Nunez Feijoo and Juan Manuel Moreno.

In full trial of the procés, the rights stirred up the atmosphere in a competition in which the PP hardly achieved electoral returns. It is more: their numbers for that year, in which all the power of the State was distributed, have subsequently improved only in Madrid and slightly in Castilla y León. in Catalonia, in february 2021the PP was the least voted party of those that achieved parliamentary representation: 3.8% of votes and just three deputies.

In those elections, the then leader of the party tried a tactical dribble a few days before the polls opened. Pablo Casado revealed in an interview on Rac1 that on October 1, 2017 refused to exercise his role as spokesman of the party: "I decided not to go out and explain what was happening in Catalonia because I did not agree with those who said that voting was taking place there in a comparable way, nor with those who said that nothing was being voted for". Casado also rejected the harsh police charges that day: "I didn't like them." And he criticized the government of Mariano Rajoy for not having prevented the holding of the referendum.

That February 9, 2021, Casado spoke of Catalonia as "a land of harmony". “I want to be part of the solution for Catalonia, not the problem”, he pointed out. And he accepted questions in Catalan, in contradiction to what had been his failed personal bid to lead the PP electorally in the 2019 general elections and to act as the party's spokesperson in Congress, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo: "I hope that languages ​​will unite us and that my children spoke them. I understand Catalan very well, it's a great language but you shouldn't do politics with it”.

Casado's bet did not last long, perhaps because the electoral returns were non-existent. In June pardons arrived for those convicted of the procés, who the PP vehemently rejected. The rights returned to Colón, where the most applauded were Abascal and Isabel Díaz Ayuso. Casado received boos. Feijóo and Moreno were absent.

A few months later, during the National Convention with which he tried to relaunch his political project at the head of the PP, Casado recovered his original speech, the one that gave him the presidency of the party in 2018, and asked to give the "cultural battle", glorified the Hispanidad as a milestone only comparable to that of Romanizationraised as one of his star promises the creation of a National Museum of Spanish History and pointed out a shared path with Vox: the recentralization of autonomous powers by decision of the central governmentnot due to the abandonment of the autonomous communities themselves, as the PP had once raised in previous years.

The "plurinationality"

Casado soon abandoned his approach to Catalonia closely marked by José María Aznar, who said at the PP convention that Spain "is not a multinational, multilevel state or the mother that gave birth to them." But Feijóo wants to try it, perhaps aware that the great majorities of the bipartisan past are not possible without obtaining a good handful of votes in that Spain. In 2011, for example, the PP was the third most voted party in Catalonia and obtained 11 deputies. In November 2019, he achieved two parliamentarians.

Feijóo has tried to separate himself from the territorial theses of Vox who, trying not to expressly cite to avoid direct confrontation that Casado did enter in the 2020 motion of censure, has accused of not being a constitutionalist for rejecting Title VIII of the Charter Magna, which consecrates the autonomous State. While the leader of the PP praises this model and places it as one of the pillars of the evolution of Spain since 1978, the extreme right points to it as a great mistake that must be ended in order to return to the centralist Francoist model based on the province.

The PP has experienced a kind of internal peace since the XX National Congress (extraordinary) that elevated the Galician, propitiated in part by the slow deployment of Feijóo in Madrid and its resistance to defining organic and parliamentary structures. Feijóo's words did not provoke internal reactions. Ayuso has remained silent in this case, despite the fact that both have already shown their deep discrepancies in public on how the PP should relate to the coalition government or with Vox.

But this Monday the words of the number three of the PP, Elías Bendodo, in an interview in El Mundo have meant an escalation in the strategy. “I have heard Aznar publicly affirm that Spain was a plurinational, pluricultural and plurilingual state. That is a reality. Catalonia is not a nation within Spain”, said the general coordinator. The also Andalusian Presidency Minister, president of the Electoral Committee of the Andalusian PP and president of the PP of Malaga (circumscription for which Juan Manuel Moreno is running for the 19J elections), added: “Catalonia is indeed a nationality of the Spanish State, like any other autonomous community.

"The goal is to reconnect with Catalan society," he said. "Catalonia, at the time in the center-right, gave an option and won the elections." And he settled: "I believe that, effectively, Spain is a multinational State."

The reaction from Vox was immediate. His spokesperson, Jorge Buxadé, raised this Monday on Twitter: “The PP does not care about Spain. He only cares about the PP”. And from Ciudadanos, its leader in Catalonia, Carlos Carrizosa, pointed out: “The 'new' PP assuming the podemite discourse of the plurinational State. If the alternative to sanchismo is this, turn it off and let's go."

The PP looks at its own contradictions with the words of Bendodo. His own leader in Andalusia, the current president Juan Manuel Moreno, asked in June 2017 "that someone from the PSOE" explain "what the plurinational Spain consists of."

Bendodo summoned the press in Malaga on Monday afternoon to try to reformulate his message: “Spain is an indissoluble nation, made up of 17 autonomies and two autonomous cities that each have their own identity and particularities. What the PP defends is that territorial differences can be reconciled and respected and is compatible with defending the unity of Spain. We neither fight particularities nor do we want to make them prevail over other feelings. We are clear that Spain is a unique and respectful nation. That's what I've always said."

In barely a month comes the first truth test of Feijóo's new PP at the polls. It will be led by the baron with whom power has been shared within the party. And Vox lurks in the polls.



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