One of the main problems of Alberto Núñez Feijóo is that, on the one hand, he lacks charisma, and on the other, almost no one recognizes his leadership. His political failure on July 23rd, when, despite taking the People’s Party (PP) to victory in the Spanish general election with 137 deputies versus the 121 of Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists (PSOE), he did not end up in a position to assemble a majority of 176 deputies, has clearly left him to weather the political storm. The Basque Nationalists (PNV) are resisting him tooth and nail, with their eyes fixed on the next autonomous elections, due in 2024, when they will need the Basque Socialists to support them rather than changing horses to EH Bildu. And as for Together for Catalonia (Junts) and the seven deputies it has, Feijóo can’t count on them, since so far there is nothing other than some contact from very distant standpoints. Nothing that, at the present time, could even minimally unsettle the PSOE.
Feijóo is aware of this and now finds himself having to put out some of the fires that the PP itself lit. But, of course, if he wants to attempt the investiture that the king has put in his hands, he will at least have to talk to Junts. This Sunday, using the platform of Madrid daily El Mundo, he made a weak attempt to reach out to Puigdemont, indicating that he is ready to listen to his demands and proposals. In this approach, which was a Version 2.0 of José María Aznar’s 1996 declaration that he even spoke Catalan in private, Feijóo took a conciliatory line. “I am not a political and ideological rival of Junts,” Feijóo said.
But since Feijóo does not need external rivals, since the PP itself is already a bubbling cauldron, it was none other than the president of the Catalan PP, Alejandro Fernández, who corrected the assertion stating that Junts was indeed their rival and that he did not see what there was to talk about with Carles Puigdemont’s party. A stern warning to Feijóo from the leader of his party’s organization in Catalonia. Since they are not so smart as to make it seem that this exchange was a ‘good cop, bad cop’ routine, you have to believe that everything is much simpler, and that some already see Feijóo as being past his use-by date.
We will see in the coming days in very minor things such as the use of Catalan in Congress or in the European institutions, or in the ratification of the Junts and ERC parliamentary groups in Congress, what their attitude is. In the case of Junts, it will also be possible to measure the parliamentary group it wants to form in the Senate with its three parliamentarians, Coalición Canária, the BNG and four senators borrowed from the PSOE. Since everything will coincide in time, a blow from the PP to dismiss all of Junts’ claims would give a first hint of how Feijóo will play the game until his investiture. And the same in reverse.
It is in this test, so simple and preliminary, that all the details will be seen, not in the statements of how the PP is approaching the talks with Junts. It’s a mere thermometer of Feijóo’s will, but it’s still useful. As one always well-informed person puts it, “if you’re not willing to pay for the water, you’re hardly going to pay for my lunch.”
Produced in association with El Nacional En