The useless betrayal of the two UPN deputies disconcerted everyone, but especially one person: Javier Esparza, their boss, the party leader. He immediately called Santos Cerdán and Félix Bolaños, his socialist interlocutors, to ask for their forgiveness. And messages were also exchanged with Pedro Sánchez. In the environment of the president they have good words for him. “No one expected something like this. UPN is a serious party, with its word, that maintains its agreements. We had closed a deal, and now we have fooled everyone. No one could have imagined it,” says Esparza.
“We had to vote yes. We believe in social dialogue. We have governed Navarra for many years, we have been pioneers in social coordination, it is one of the hallmarks of UPN. We have made four agreed employment plans. And we had also closed a negotiation with the PSOE that included not failing the mayor of Pamplona”, he insists, devastated.
Why did the two UPN deputies, Sergio Sayas and Carlos Garcia Adanero, disobey? In the PSOE they are absolutely convinced that there was vote buying. “It only remains to know the price that the PP has paid,” Adriana Lastra said this Friday, number two of the socialists. In Unión del Pueblo Navarro they have more doubts. They believe that the pressure from the conservative world on social networks, in which both are very active, was decisive for the deputies to change their minds. But they also have suspicions that the PP or Vox may have offered them to go on the lists in the future or another perk. It is clear that these two professional politicians have finished their careers in UPN, and they had to know it when they voted against their orders.
What is clear is that they have changed. Because on Monday, in the Executive, neither of them clearly opted for the “no”. None of the 20 UPN leadership members present did so. In fact, the two deputies stated that there were reasons to vote yes because the labor reform was supported by businessmen and trade unions from Navarra. And they left the negotiation in the hands of the management. But little by little they turned around and on Wednesday, when they were informed of the decision, they already said that they did not agree with it, although they complied with it. There began a deception of many hours that ended badly: the stratagem did not work by chance, a mistake by a PP deputy.
Sergio Sayas flatly denies to EL PAÍS the idea that there has been vote buying: “What they are saying is absurd. What if I’m going to go to the PP or Vox? I cannot tell you what I will do in five years, but now I want to finish the legislature and I am going to try to continue in the UPN because I am going to defend in the Guarantees Committee that I did not fail to comply, it was the leadership by not arguing why it was necessary to vote yes . Jokes of ‘come to the PP’ they make me in the cafeteria all day, but I have not had any proposal to go to any party. Yes, it is true that yesterday [por el jueves] I spoke with Cuca Gamarra, with Macarena Olona, with Iván Espinosa from Los Monteros, as I always speak. But I didn’t tell anyone what I was going to vote for. Only to my mother so that she would not be scared, ”says the deputy.
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Sayas faced Esparza in the party’s primaries in June 2020 —who won the second with 58% of the vote— while García Adanero was one of his trusted men in the last legislature. Both will foreseeably cease to be part of UPN this Saturday and the party will be left without representation in Congress.
In any case, although Sayas has been a dissenting voice with the leadership, sources close to him believed that he would not dare to take the step of breaking party discipline. They expected even less from Carlos García Adanero, who after 35 years affiliated with UPN, had always followed the lines marked by his training. This Friday, García Adanero attended the Executive meeting in which a declaration was approved to expel them from the party. Only he voted against, upon his departure he assured that he will keep his deputy act and rejected Lastra’s accusation: “These are miserable words from someone who is used to being paid; I have never been paid anything to do anything in politics [al margen del sueldo público]”. They also deny it in the PP. “We have nothing to do with the decision of those deputies. It is completely false. “There has been no negotiation, or anything like that. We didn’t know what was going to happen,” sources from the PP leadership told EL PAÍS.
Several popular deputies have acknowledged to EL PAÍS that they contacted the two UPN parliamentarians throughout Thursday, but maintain that they only gave them messages of “encouragement and support.”
Nor did the Government suspect treason. In fact, the negotiation with UPN began with Sayas. On January 19, Rafael Simancas, Secretary of State for Relations with the Courts, called him because he is the usual interlocutor on economic and employment issues. The UPN representative told him that he did not share the PP’s strategy and was in favor of a reform that is the result of a social agreement with employers and unions. Sayas conveyed, however, that the interlocutor of such a sensitive issue could not be him, but Esparza, the leader. He even sent his phone to Simancas. Since then, everything went well, and both the Navarrese Santos Cerdán, secretary of organization of the PSOE, and Minister Félix Bolaños closed the negotiations with the UPN leader without problems.
The alarms go off when the deputies say publicly early on Thursday morning that they do not share the decision of the management. But to all those who ask them they tell them that they are going to respect the voting discipline. They also confirm it to the general secretary of their party. With this information, Esparza reassures the PSOE.
At mid-morning, around 11:00, Cerdán, the PSOE spokesman in Congress Héctor Gómez and the Citizens’ spokesman, Edmundo Bal, meet Sayas in one of the corridors that surround the hemicycle. This tells them that both he and García Adanero will respect the discipline of their party. “He told me looking me in the eye in the corridor we call M-30,” recalls Bal.
Both deputies were already decided, as revealed later. But they fooled everyone. That was key for the strategy to succeed: if not, the PSOE could have looked for an alternative. What they did not expect was the failure of the PP. No one knows if they were promised anything in exchange for the money order. And it is possible that it will never be known, because in reality, her betrayal was worth nothing, and, therefore, there is no point in compensating her.
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