While Spain was awaiting the outcome of the Benidorm festival with the contest between Chanel, Rigoberta Bandini and the Tanxugueiras, another duel of scope was taking place in the electoral campaign of Castilla y León. At the same time, on a cold night on the banks of the Pisuerga River, José María Aznar launched the campaign with a disavowal of Pablo Casado that has convulsed the PP. The former Prime Minister attributed the rise of populism to the fact that citizens “do not have a strong reference point to trust” and dropped that he does not know what his party’s project is. Aznar always goes free and speaks clearly, but in the PP nobody expected those stab wounds to the popular leader in the middle of a rally. The aznarazo It fell like a bomb in the PP campaign, which unexpectedly turned to a discussion about Casado’s leadership. The Socialists, eager for a favorable framework, quickly set out to sink their teeth into their rival.
Aznar’s words on Saturday night in Valladolid resonated on Sunday in all the conversations in the PP and forced Casado to defend himself at the rally he held in Ávila with Alfonso Fernández Mañueco. In the game it was fatal that Aznar entered the campaign like this, giving away an unnecessary trick to the left. “Coming to an election to help like this… for that which does not come,” sources from the leadership complained. In Genoa they consoled themselves with the scant media coverage of the criticism of the leader, which went almost unnoticed on television because Aznar spoke at almost nine o’clock at night while the country was awaiting the Benidorm festival. But the national leadership did respond to the former president. “Aznar makes his diagnosis and the party always listens, but there is a clear leadership and an indisputable project,” they pointed out in Genoa.
Casado himself came out to defend himself from his mentor’s reproaches on Sunday from Ávila. Aznar had questioned whether the PP president has a clear project for Spain. “Many times I hear people say: you have to win so that I don’t know who gets to La Moncloa or to the palace of I don’t know how many… Hey, the question is: and to do what?” he said. Casado replied that he does have a plan for Spain and that he explained it at the national convention last October in Valencia. “The speech that I made in Valencia was my investiture speech. There is everything that needs to be done in Spain, what Spain needs. It was a speech after 400 experts speaking with the party, with 50 legislative reforms… that proposed a new contract to the Spanish. That he was talking about giving power back to the people,” Casado claimed.
It was not the first time that Aznar had thrown a dart at the current leadership of the PP – after the Catalan elections he said that the party was in a moment that “clearly could be improved” – but later, at the national convention, he gave Casado a boost. What has gone wrong since then? “He is fed up with the inconsistent team that surrounds Casado and cannot stand what they are doing to Ayuso,” says a leader close to the former president. Aznar has spared no praise for Isabel Díaz Ayuso and, when the Madrid leader’s war with Genoa was at its hottest point, he came out to remind her that she was “the most popular politician in all of Spain.” Casado’s conflict with the Madrid leader continues to be the main factor destabilizing the PP, and sometimes it explodes at the least unexpected moments.
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That he does it in the campaign is undoubtedly the worst context. Electoral experts know that campaigns are essential, because more and more people decide their vote at the last minute. In Castilla y León, according to the CIS pre-electoral study, there are 26.9% undecided and 30% say they will cast their vote in the last week of the campaign. So when the opponent makes a mistake, the opponents know they have to exploit it. See how the PP has stretched the controversy to infinity over the words of the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, questioning the large livestock farms.
The Socialists launched on Sunday to do the same with Aznar to wear down Casado and Mañueco. “Yesterday Aznar said of Casado that he was a weak leader, that he lacked a project and that he put his personal interests before the interests of the citizens. And that is the reality”, said the deputy general secretary of the PSOE, Adriana Lastra, in Segovia. “Casado orders the elections to cover up his weakness, Mañueco calls the elections to cover up his corruption, and we socialists are going to win the elections to bring change to the Junta de Castilla y León,” he said enthusiastically.
Genoa had mobilized Aznar in a campaign to stop Vox, although it did not go well. The real fight in these elections is on the right side, between the PP and Vox, because Santiago Abascal’s party is the only one that challenges the resounding victory that the PP wants in Castilla y León to promote Casado’s national project. The popular is pressing the accelerator against Vox and on Sunday he made one of the most critical speeches with Abascal’s party since he broke with him in the October 2020 motion of censure. Casado charged against the summit of far-right leaders that the ultra leader had met this weekend in Madrid and that in the PP they assure that it has been “a turning point” in their relationship with the ultras, due to their hesitant position on Europe. “The PP raises the flag of Spain with pride, but neither hides it nor hides behind it,” Casado criticized those from Abascal.
The campaign has just started with a slip for the PP, but there are still many days until February 13. This Monday the candidates face in the first electoral debate with the unusual situation that one of the contenders, Francisco Igea, from Ciudadanos, will have to debate telematically from his home because he is confined by covid. Probably, Aznar will also slip into the debate.
Spain cannot be united by disunifying the vote
Our project is that Spaniards can make theirs a reality
The PP raises the national flag with pride, neither hides nor hides behind it
We are the third Spain, the one with the balconies, white hands and freedom without anger pic.twitter.com/WLkNe4AQit
– Pablo Casado Blanco (@pablocasado_) January 30, 2022
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.