Jose de Francis, "the encyclopedia" of Congress who was an usher and became chief of staff of Batet

“Call José, who knows it” has been for decades a phrase that has been repeated in the PSOE whenever their leaders, deputies or advisers had any doubts about parliamentary jurisdiction, to know the legal limits when preparing laws and initiatives, or in search of precedents that could help them in their political performance. José was José Luis de Francisco Herrero (Madrid, 1963 – Ibid, 2022), who until this Friday, the day of his death, served as Chief of Staff of the President of the Congress of Deputies, Meritxell Batet.

He was the oldest of the Socialists’ parliamentary advisers, whom politicians and journalists affectionately called ‘Francisco’s Google’, for his ability to find anything and his willingness to help anyone who asked him, regardless of position or status. of political affiliation. All those who have worked with him in recent years agree that he was “passionate” about parliamentarism.

His relationship with Congress dates back decades, when he won a position as a usher in the Lower House in 1985. A Law graduate, he later built an entire career that led him to become an “institution” in Parliament, as defined by Oscar Lopez, current Chief of Staff of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez. A “reference”, in the opinion of innumerable journalists who asked him questions about the parliamentary regulations, or an “encyclopedia”, explain socialist sources, who knew perfectly the democratic functioning.

“Dismayed after learning of the death of José de Francisco. He leaves us a magnificent public servant and a great colleague. He dedicated part of his life to parliamentary activity and worked tirelessly to strengthen our democracy. My condolences to his family” Sánchez himself wrote this Friday, in a message on Twitter. “I feel infinite sorrow for having to say goodbye to one of my closest collaborators, José de Francisco. A dear, brilliant, intelligent friend, a great connoisseur of parliamentarism and one of the most loved and respected people in Congress,” he said, for her part, her last boss, Meritxell Batet.

Socialists like the president of the Senate, Ander Gil; the Ministers of Justice, Culture and Education, Pilar Llop, Miquel Iceta and Pilar Alegría, respectively; the Secretary of State for Relations with the Courts, Rafael Simancas; the leader of the PSC, Salvador Illa; the president of the PSOE, Cristina Narbona; the socialist ex-spokeswoman in Congress, Adriana Lastra; former ministers such as Carmen Calvo or former deputies such as Eduardo Madina, are just some of the long list of leaders of the PSOE family who have made public their sorrow for the death of De Francisco.

The “sympathy”, “humility” and “ability to work” highlighted by those who worked with him have also been recognized by leaders of other parties such as the former president of Congress and current second vice president of the Chamber, Ana Pastor; the spokesperson for the PP in Parliament, Cuca Gamarra; the former Secretary of State for Relations with the Courts of the Government of Mariano Rajoy, José Luis Ayllón, or the spokesman for Citizens in Congress, Edmund Ball. The sadness for the loss of De Francisco has been shared by countless journalists, regulars in the coverage of parliamentary or PSOE information.

“His career caught my attention, how he came to Congress as an auxiliary and how he was trained later, coming to play a fundamental role in the Socialist Group,” Héctor Gómez, the current spokesman for the PSOE in the Socialist Group, highlights in a conversation with Congress.

Graduated in Legal Practice from the Universidad Pontificia de Comillas, De Francisco began his career as a consultant working as a lawyer in the cabinets of the parliamentary groups of the United Left-Initiative for Catalonia and Mixed Congress, between 1993 and 2000. Later he joined the PSOE as an advisor in the Legal Cabinet of the Socialist Parliamentary Group of the General Courts and, between 2001 and 2003, he was also a visiting professor at the Faculty of Law of the University of Alicante in the Legislative Drafting Techniques Course.

General Director of Relations with the Courts in the Ministry of the Presidency at the time of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (between 2004 and 2009), he was later appointed by Moncloa as Secretary of State for Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs. When the PSOE went into opposition, after the 2011 elections, he was appointed director of the Legal Cabinet of the Socialist Parliamentary Group of the Cortes Generales. And since July 2019 he was the director of the Batet Cabinet.

Héctor Gómez insists on highlighting the “solvency and knowledge of the Chamber” that De Francisco had. “He was a brilliant person, exact in matters of regulation and an exceptional and humble human being in personal treatment, who was working until the last moment,” adds the PSOE spokesman in the Lower House.

His predecessor in office and current Deputy Secretary General of the PSOE, Adriana Lastra, adds the following reflection: “Those of us who knew José de Francisco today share an immense emptiness and a lot of sadness. José has been a wonderful colleague. He always had the answer to any question, he was the memory of the Congress. A colleague much loved and admired by all socialists, with an exemplary sense of justice and, above all, a lot of generosity. Today the most repeated phrase among all of us, his colleagues and friends, is that a kind person has left us in all the extension of the word. We already miss him”.

“He was a key person in the machinery of parliamentarism. He was the colleague who was always turned to for consultation on legal and political issues. He was essential, he knew everything,” journalist Rodolfo Irago, who was director, told this newspaper. of Communication of the Socialist Parliamentary Group between 2014 and 2017, one of the most convulsive stages for the PSOE internally. “José acted as glue for the group and always kept in tune with all sectors”, he highlights.

De Francisco was for years, together with the veteran José Enrique Serrano or the Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, now deceased, one of the main figures within the PSOE whom spokespersons, executives and presidents consulted about legislative proposals and asked for advice. He wrote speeches and in his own handwriting laws that are in force today were drafted, although due to his “humility”, those who know him point out, he never wanted his authorship to be known.

The socialist family confessed this Friday “dismayed” at the “hard blow” that the loss of De Francisco has meant for them. “He was a guy that anyone from any party recognizes that he was rigorous and honest,” says the journalist, for her part. Imma Aguilar, general director of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology, who until July served as director of the Cabinet of the Minister of Science and Innovation, Pedro Duque and who throughout her professional career has been director of communication and coordinator of parliamentary groups .

“He transmitted to me the love and respect for Parliament. He was an oracle about the intricacies of parliamentary life, with a beautiful story about how he came to Congress and how he was formed,” adds Aguilar. As a personal anecdote, she tells how the only favor De Francisco asked of her was to get Minister Duque to sign a photo of one of his two daughters, with an interest in aeronautics. “He reminded me every time he saw me and finally we gave his daughter the signed photo in Congress,” she recalls, very sad.

José de Francisco died early Friday in Madrid, aged 58, sick with cancer. He leaves behind a wife and two daughters.


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