A dead king, put king. And, with him, a good part of the court. Alberto Núñez Feijóo's team already dominates its new possessions at the PP's national headquarters, located at number 13 on Calle de Génova in Madrid. A building still formally for sale in which the activity at the moment is not as frenetic as one might think in a change of leadership because many signings are linked to area secretaries, who have not yet been appointed. A large part of the staff that worked for Pablo Casado's former management saw their contracts decline on April 1, along with the outgoing management, as was the case of Fran Hervías and many others. Some may repeat. Others surely not.
While the distribution of organic power is finalized, there are some names that will be part of the central decision-making nucleus in Genoa that are already defined and designated. And they have started to work. There are two groups, both concentric around the figure of Feijóo. One is made up of loyal supporters who have accompanied him from Galicia, some practically since he began his political career in Madrid in 1996. The other is made up of the political members of the Steering Committee.
The Galician team that escorts Feijóo on his landing in Madrid has Mar Sánchez as its bastion. A journalist by training, from La Voz de Galicia, she is his most veteran collaborator. With him she already made a similar trip in 1996, when the political godfather of the current president of the PP, the then Minister of Health, José Manuel Romay Beccaría, placed him at the head of Insalud. In the second legislature of José María Aznar, Feijóo was commissioned to preside over the Post Office. Here, Mar Sánchez, who also came from Romay's environment, was already responsible for his communication. And until today.
In 2009, Feijóo appointed her General Secretary of Media, a position that controls the entire communication apparatus of the Galician Government and also the faucet of subsidies and publicity without which the long dozen of paper newspapers that are published in the community, the radios and for a time some private television that no longer broadcasts, could not survive. She will now be responsible for the Projection and Image Area of the PP. A complete declaration of intent for those who have controlled with an iron hand relations with the main Galician media outlets and fundamentally with TVG, where shortly after Feijóo came to power, a journalist who had acted as comptroller of the PP in an election. Regional television professionals have been celebrating their Black Fridays for more than 200 weeks to denounce the manipulation of the public entity, where Sánchez continues to have a direct line.
Below Mar Sánchez is another line of work with a group of advisers who provide ideas for the leader's political strategies. They identify themselves with the nickname "Alberto's boys", and at least three of that group will also make the trip to Madrid with their leader. Journalists for the most part, the Galician politician signed them when they were barely in their twenties. In those years, they wrote their first speeches between games from PlayStation to Pro Evolution Soccer. They are Luis de la Mata, his partner, Marta Varela, and Lucas Martinón (now dedicated to political advice from the private sphere.) Álvaro Pérez has always been with them.
Luis De la Mata has held the position of press officer of the PP in Galicia in recent years, although his salary is received from Galician Television, on whose board of directors he was placed as part of the partisan quota from which he draws. the body from which the destiny of public radio and television in Galicia (CRTVG) is directed. PSOE and BNG have also placed plumbers who work in the organic life of the party in that body that must ensure plurality in the public media. Now De la Matta will direct the relationship of the national PP with the media, under the command of Mar Sánchez.
The trio of fixtures is completed by Marta Varela, partner of the previous one, also a journalist by training and who was appointed director of Feijóo's Cabinet the same weekend as the National Congress in Seville. Varela still occupies that same position in the presidency of the Xunta from which she has not yet resigned, and before that she was part of her communication team. She is one of the main writers of the president's speeches.
In the group of "Alberto's boys" there is also Álvaro Pérez, general secretary of the Presidency of the Xunta and one of his main advisers. It was with him that he confessed on the election night of 2009 that elevated him to the presidency of the Xunta for the first time. Fran Balado tells it in the kind biography that he has written about the leader of the PP. According to that book, after winning, Feijóo told Pérez: "Today I am more worried than yesterday." The four continue to receive their salary from the Galician administration, despite already being installed in Genoa at the head of the main responsibilities of the PP. Their dismissals, if they occur, are not expected until Feijóo does the same in the Galician Government.
The second circle that revolves around Feijóo is the political one. In a markedly vertical party such as the PP, the Management Committee has total importance in the design of the organization's strategy. At least, that is how it has been until now, although the PP has succumbed in recent weeks to a process of baronization as a counterpart to the fall of Pablo Casado. It was precisely in that body, when his faithful demanded that he resign, when the former leader of the PP assumed that he had begun to lose the game against Ayuso.
Feijóo has picked up one of the few people who accompanied Casado throughout his term as number two in the party: Cuca Gamarra. The general secretary will also be in charge of direct opposition to Pedro Sánchez in Congress, from where the president of the PP will be absent.
The Galician could seek his place in the Senate, although in said Chamber the participation of the President of the Government is less frequent. In any case, the responsibility for the control sessions on Wednesdays and the big debates, such as Sánchez's recent appearance to talk about the war in Ukraine, the Sahara or the European response to the crisis, or the next debate on the state of the nation, will fall on Gamarra.
It is not a small thing. For this reason, and to recognize the importance of Juan Manuel Moreno, Feijóo placed the strong man of the Andalusian president as number two: Elías Bendodo. The still counselor of the Presidency of the Board, president of the electoral committee of the Andalusian PP and president of the PP of Malaga has assumed the portfolio of general coordinator. A figure that the organization has only used to compensate for the presence of its first swords in the Government. It happened during the mandates of Aznar or Rajoy, with Ángel Acebes and Fernando Martínez Maíllo. The PSOE has already received him with a complaint before the Prosecutor's Office in which he is accused of “prevaricate” with 4,000 express contracts of public jobs in Andalusia.
Despite the fact that the Andalusian PP initially pointed out that Bendodo would stay 100% there until the holding of the elections (the date of which is yet to be determined but which should be this year), at the first meeting of the Steering Committee he was already commissioned to make an X-ray of the organic situation of the party. A report focused on the calendar of pending regional congresses, with the one in Madrid in the first row.
The report was to be ready in a matter of days. To do so, Bendodo has had the help of the third of the key leaders of the new leadership of the PP: the new deputy secretary of Territorial Organization, Miguel Tellado.
Tellado is another of Feijóo's faithful who has landed from Galicia in Madrid with him. General Secretary of the Galician PP since 2016, before he was spokesperson for the PP in the regional Parliament. He also worked as a journalist and, before that, as an activist in student union life, in an ideological spectrum far removed from the one that protects him now: he was part of the University Student Movement (MEU), a split from the Open Faculty Committees (CAF) which, for then they orbited around the most forceful wing of the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG).
During all these years Tellado has acted as Feijóo's bad cop and together with Bendodo he will be in charge of controlling the PP territorially. It was right there where Pablo Casado failed, who blindly trusted his general secretary, Teodoro García Egea, despite the warnings that his friends, and not so friends, in the party sent him.
The territorial balance is defined with the entry of the PP of Madrid in the figure of Senator Pedro Rollán, appointed Deputy Secretary of Regional and Local Coordination to the chagrin of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, who was counting on his promotion to the Organization Vice-Secretariat. All in all, Rollán is not even a man very close to the regional president, although he is not an enemy either.
Former mayor of the municipality of Torrejón de Ardoz, former councilor with Cristina Cifuentes until her fall; vice president with Ángel Garrido when he inherited the chair at Puerta del Sol; and even accidental president when his friend scared Citizens, Ayuso preferred to send him to the Senate in 2019 with the consent of Casado.
Rollán will be in charge of defining the strategic and political lines of the PP before the crucial regional and municipal elections in May of next year. But organically he won't have much to say because, at least on paper, that's up to Bendodo and Tellado.
Gamarra, Bendodo, Tellado and Rollán (whom some sources relate to Feijóo on a personal level since his term as head of the Post Office at the beginning of the century) form the hard core within the Management Committee along with a fifth name: Esteban González Pons . The Valencian is the deputy secretary of Institutional, a position whose content is yet to be discovered. Some people point out that he will be in charge of building bridges with the Government and piloting the negotiations, but from the leadership of the PP they do not confirm that he is, for example, the one who will discuss the renewal of the General Council of the Judiciary with Minister Félix Bolaños. for now, Feijóo and Pedro Sánchez have resumed talks.
On a technical level, Feijóo has opted for profiles with experience in the field. This is the case of the other Andalusian in the Galician court: Juan Bravo. He was Andalusian, not by birth, but because he is Juan Manuel Moreno's Minister of Economy. I was already preparing technical documents for Casado, although free of charge in Genoa. And now he will do it for Feijóo, but with command in place as Deputy Secretary of Economy. In Andalusia, many defend that a good part of Moreno's success is due to Bravo and his control over budgets, beyond the ideological considerations of each one.
Carmen Navarro Lacoba closes the list of deputy secretaries. Her portfolio: Social Policies. She is a native of Albacete, she is a deputy for that province. The president of the PP of Castilla-La Mancha, Paco Núñez, is also from there, whom she thanked Navarro for giving her "first political opportunity". Some sources place her in her race to lead the PP's candidacy for Mayor of Albacete.
Feijóo's power in Madrid is completed with another Galician, Diego Calvo from A Coruña as president of the Electoral Committee. A position of maximum importance in a party like the PP, whose lists must go through the screening of Genoa yes or yes. The thousands of ballot papers for the municipal and regional elections that will be held next year must be agreed with the national leadership. All. It is the way in which the national president makes sure to control the positions of all of Spain, although it did not help Casado much when the time came to recount armies when the final battle of his war with Ayuso broke out. Calvo, however, has spoken in favor of an open congress with primaries to elect Feijóo's successor in Galicia. A position for which some mayors apply.
Lastly, the president of the Rights and Guarantees Committee is the Extremaduran José Antonio Monago, who was on the way to the end of his political life, but who saw his opportunities reborn with the arrival of Feijóo in Genoa. It remains to be seen if the Galician trusts him to lead the party in Extremadura, whose congress is pending, or if the position he has been given in Madrid is a counterpart to make way for a new face that competes with Guillermo Fernández Vara by the Board.