There are two ways of approaching an apparently impossible solution in politics. The first is the way Xavier Trias did in the 2015 local elections, and Inés Arrimadas in the 2017 Catalan elections: without putting up a fight and considering the battle as lost from the very beginning. The other is doing what PSC’s members Pasqual Maragall (2003), José Montilla (2006) or Salvador Illa (2023) did after elections, looking to become Catalan president.
The first two achieved their goal and reached the highest position in Catalonia, while the third did not, as Esquerra Republicana’s (ERC), Junts’ and CUP’s MPs invested Père Aragonès. As is always the case with the glass half empty or half full, only those who engage in a seemingly impossible battle have any chance of reaching the top.
The last example was that of Jaume Collboni, who, against all odds and at the last minute, displaced Trias from Barcelona’s mayoralty in a pact which is difficult to explain, as it required an agreement with the commons and the People’s Party (PP), which gave the socialist the leadership of the Catalan capital and which, should nothing stand in his way, he will hold, at least, until his re-election in 2027.
Nobody gave Collboni a chance, but a combination of persistence and luck, suitably tempered with fears and ghosts of the past, snatched the mayoralty from Trias.
“Circles close to Alberto Núñez Feijóo say the Popular Party’s leader and candidate for Spanish prime minister was on the verge of resigning on Sunday, when he saw that the absolute majority with Vox had vanished and nothing was as expected,” said El Nacional En.
Pedro Sánchez lost the elections by a few MPs, but he came out of the electoral contest alive. In fact, he gained just over a dozen MPs, an important but insufficient figure, since the sum of all his possible allies —in addition to the PP, Vox, Coalición Canaria and UPN— is 171 compared to the 172 of the other parties, excluding Junt’s 7, which have not begun to play the game.
Feijóo, as Maragall did in 2003, when he was also on the verge of throwing in the towel, something which Miquel Iceta, above all, helped avoid, did not resign and agreed to play the game after a bitter evening in which he also had to listen to shouts of “Ayuso for president” from those gathered in the PP’s headquarters, as if the president of the Community of Madrid were far from Feijóo’s drama.
The Galician has apparently not left, but we will see if options which currently are not even on the table open up for him in the coming weeks. The first one to give him a hard time was the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which has its own conflict in the Basque Country, where Basque Country Unite (Bildu) is strengthening its position, election after election.
The PNV, king of pragmatism and a first-division political player, is not in the mood for nonsense and its first objective is not to put the Basque presidency at risk. Everything else is secondary. It is not going to do anything to displease the Basque Socialists, whose votes will be essential for it to keep the government, and it does not intend to pave the way for Bildu so that the Basque socialists change their ally.
Feijóo has nothing to do here. The grand coalition with the PSOE is the Popular Party’s second move, but the socialists, beyond a few romantics of the past whom no longer have any influence, starting with Felipe González, have little incentive to embrace the PP when they see themselves holding on to all the power for four more years.
“The arithmetic is enormously complicated for Sánchez and Feijóo, but the socialist has better cards in a difficult battle in which the sums come and go, and four years must be secured, not just the investiture. A repetition of elections is still more likely than any other option, with Feijóo being doubted within the PP and some media supporters now highly critical of the Galician for his erratic campaign and his abandonment of the centre,” said El Nacional En.
But in politics the last trick is never played until there are no cards left to be dealt, and in these long weeks and months we will see all kinds of combinations, even the impossible ones.
We will see how the wheat is separated from the chaff and what Sánchez is willing to do to stay as prime minister and Feijóo to get the position, and if there are any tricks to be played to avoid new elections. Interesting games are always the best ones.
Produced in association with El Nacional En
Edited by Priscilla Jepchumba and Judy J. Rotich