It is difficult for the President of the Government and the leader of the opposition to coincide at the same business fair in the midst of a military deployment a few kilometers from Russia and their teams do not prepare a meeting, even if it is fleeting, to offer the media, and the population, an image of state and unity. More complicated is that both people pass a few meters from the other and pretend they haven't seen each other. But power, it can happen. In fact, this is what has happened between Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Casado this Friday at Fitur, which has brought together both leaders in a handful of square meters, in addition to the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, and the mayor of the capital , Jose Luis Martinez Almeida.
The tension over Ukraine runs amok and feeds a military escalation
The International Tourism Fair that is held every year in Ifema had this Friday one of those complicated days for those who organize the protocol. The President of the Government and the head of the opposition attended, in addition to the regional and local leaders since Madrid Day was being celebrated in Fitur. Pablo Casado was the first to arrive, around 10 in the morning. The PP leader began the tour of the southern and eastern pavilions (Costa del Sol, Almeria, Malaga, Costa Blanca, Benidorm, Alicante, Murcia, Ceuta,...). Half an hour later, Sánchez arrived, who began his journey at the other end of the fair, the Turespaña stand, where he announced a new batch of European funds for the tourism sector: almost 800 million more.
Both did what politicians do in these cases: approach the different pavilions indicated by their teams, greet attendees, become selfie, and shelter the regions that are more politically related to them. Casado barely showed up at stands of communities governed by the PSOE. And vice versa. Sánchez granted Andalusia and Galicia, after visiting La Rioja, Navarra, Asturias and the Canary Islands, among others.
While the president received the Canarian hospitality, behind his back the day began at the Madrid stand. The arrival of Ayuso and Almeida coincided with the departure of Sánchez from that same area in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, Casado continued his slow pilgrimage to the post of Castilla y León, his final destination.
The paths of the opposition leader and the Prime Minister were opposite, so they were called to meet at some point along the way. It was inevitable that one would pass by the other, and so it happened. Casado, surrounded by dozens of people, attended the explanations of those responsible for the stand of the Valencian Community. A larger swarm approached from his right. Like two flocks of birds meeting in mid-flight, the seemingly inevitable clash simply didn't happen. Sánchez turned right while Casado was still waiting for comments on Valencian tourism.
The no greeting thus became the news. "For once he supports you in something" they were quick to point out, ironically, from Casado's team, referring to the messages of unity of action with the Government in the face of the escalation of the crisis between Russia and NATO on account of Ukraine, which he compared to the 2003 Iraq War. In Moncloa they assure that the president has not modified the planned route, something that was insinuated from the PP, to avoid Casado and that he simply did not see him.
The sarcasm of the comments faded when Casado spoke to the press about the war movements in Eastern Europe. "The last time I met with Sánchez was in the summer of 2020. Our last call is from May 2021," the PP leader reproached the chief executive. Despite showing his state loyalty, Casado did show his anger that Sánchez has not called him to inform him of the steps he plans to take. "It is the Government that has to count on the opposition," Casado added in a statement at the Castilla y León stand, where he concluded his visit accompanied by the president of the Junta and his party's candidate in the elections on February 13.
Both used the space, paid for by the regional government, to campaign, after warning that they were doing so as leaders of the PP and not, in the case of Mañueco, as president of the Board. A distinction that puts the bandage before the wound because the electoral law precisely prevents campaigning in institutional events.
Reunion with Ayuso
A few minutes before, the other meeting that the entire press was waiting for took place: that of Casado con Ayuso. To what level will the internal war for control of the PP in Madrid have reached that it is news that two leaders of the same party greet each other when they coincide in the same space-time. But the fact is that they have not greeted each other in public since the presentation of Mariano Rajoy's book, almost two months ago.
In this case, the collision of the two scrums of journalists, teams, security, sycophants and the general public gathered around both leaders was inevitable. Screams, shoves, cameras rolling, microphones thrown into the air and bodyguards emulating Kevin Costner around three people (Casado, Ayuso and Almeida) who try to appear completely normal and indifferent.
The meeting lasted around a quarter of an hour in which those who were friends beyond politics for several decades only spoke about the distribution of European funds, according to sources from Genoa to elDiario.es. Taking the required photos, which try to show that the internal struggle that Ayuso unleashed last summer when he launched his candidacy to preside over the PP in Madrid has already ended, each one continued with his planned agenda. Casado continued his tour of the stands in Oviedo and Galicia, where he met the former president of Castilla y León, Juan José Lucas, with whom he had a much more relaxed and affable conversation than the one he had had a few minutes before, while following the He is waiting for the President of the Government to call him to inform him of his plans with Russia.