The triangle formed by the president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, her Cabinet director, Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, and the former president José María Aznar has come into operation. In a week, and with just a couple of statements, the first and the last have undermined the internal leadership of Alberto Núñez Feijóo in the PP. The link is Rodríguez, who was already Aznar’s communication guru in his assault on Moncloa at the end of the last century, and who today directs Ayuso’s strategy. Both president and former president have taken the discursive reins of a PP entangled in Feijóo’s failed investiture and have tilted the message to the right.
Feijóo denies internal movements in the PP to remove him: “I respond only to the polls”
Aznar and his former collaborator ate together last Wednesday, according to La Sexta. A date between two old friends that could be normal except for the moment in which it occurred, the intention of both of them in making it known and what had happened in the previous two days.
The re-founder of the Spanish right has already tried to manage his successor, Mariano Rajoy, with mixed success. During the first term of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the PP turned the street into its center of operations against the PSOE Government: demonstrations, collecting signatures, rallies… Nothing was spared: from equal marriage to the abortion reform, passing through the first laws that recognized the rights of trans people. Even the authorship of 11M was questioned by right-wing media headlines that, without having the capacity to influence that they had in 2004, are now once again trying to set the agenda.
Rajoy broke up with Aznar, who devoted himself to FAES (and his businesses). Vox emerged. After the disastrous mandate of Pablo Casado who had the approval of the always omnipresent refounder, the former president began rowing to bring Feijóo to Moncloa. He seemed done. They thought they had it done. They said it was done. But social reality prevailed in elections in which the PP won for the first time since 2016, but without any margin to achieve the majority support of Congress.
Aznar supported Feijóo in the 23J campaign. He accompanied him between Murcia and Alicante, where the extreme right obtains its best results. Since then, he remained silent. Until last Tuesday.
The week began for the PP with a meeting of the National Board of Directors, where the territorial barons sit. Before those who promoted him to the leadership of the party 15 months ago to meet objectives that he has not met, Feijóo once again defended his decision to run for an investiture doomed to fiasco.
“I don’t have much hope, but it’s my obligation to try,” he said. “I prefer to look into people’s eyes from the opposition, than to lower my head just to enter Moncloa,” he added. After failing to seek the support of the PNV, which has denied its support to Feijóo as long as it maintains its alliances with Vox, and failing in the attempt to open a line of negotiations with the until now untouchables of Junts, the PP only has the option of break the PSOE.
A day later, Aznar broke the board with a frontist speech that placed him on the path that Ayuso had offered at the beginning of the Madrid political course. Messages full of war references, figurative and concrete. Of “fronts” that want to “destroy Spain.” Of a “combat” like “in the 20th century.” Of those who “want to confirm our worst story.”
In other ways, Feijóo was not far behind and pointed out the acting Government for “assaulting the institutions”, now also the Constitutional Court. The intervention, at the opening of a conference organized by FAES, caused an earthquake on the Spanish right that Feijóo has not achieved for many months. That same day, in the morning, the leader of the PP had had to respond on Telecinco to a question about whether someone was “moving his chair.” The response was blunt: “I respond only to the polls.”
After Aznar’s words, a mobilization was announced in Barcelona for October 8 called by the Catalan Civil Society, to which Ayuso, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo and the leader of the Catalan PP, Alejandro Fernández, expressly signed up. Vox also announced its presence. “We will be there!” Abascal’s party noted on its Twitter account, which encourages “all our members, supporters and voters to participate.”
In his speech, Aznar called for social mobilization. To recover the “Enough!” against ETA and launching it against the independentists, which became the war cry of the demonstrations against terrorism after each attack. He appealed, as the leader of his party, to disenchanted socialists. And with more success than Feijóo, as could be seen a few days later.
The emergence of the Aznar-Ayuso-MAR triangle dynamited the strategy of Feijóo, who had prepared his own political acts to position himself against the amnesty and try to capitalize on the discontent against the negotiation of the PSOE and Sumar with Junts and ERC on the eve of his investiture. Try not to reach the Plenary Session of Congress with nothing more than the 172 votes that he already has since August.
But that flag was taken away by their people. On Wednesday morning, his general secretary, Cuca Gamarra, laconically announced a “large open event” on the weekend of September 23 and 24, just a few days before Feijóo’s inauguration. Without further details. The appointment had been communicated to the barons at a meal after the Board of Directors on Monday. The PP of Madrid was commissioned to organize it. But it was not the only event planned: this Sunday, Feijóo has a similar event in Santiago.
Gamarra did not talk about that one, who only referred to the one in Madrid, which will finally be on the 24th and, despite what Feijóo initially said, on Avenida de Felipe II, which is actually a smaller square than the Plaza de España chosen. In the first moment.
Aznar and Rajoy will be there, who already signed a kind of peace agreement in public during a PP event in Valencia, also in support of Feijóo, last February. Who is not expected is Casado, erased from the party.
Aznar, with Redondo and Leguina
The day Gamarra announces the event on the 24th, the meal takes place between Miguel Ángel Rodríguez and Aznar. Rodríguez already knows perfectly well that the Madrid PP is preparing that rally, which is what the event will ultimately be. Despite this, the next day they asked Aznar about his attendance in an interview at Cope. “I don’t know what’s been called,” he says nonchalantly, and offers to go if they ask him, as finally happened.
That same Thursday, the journalist Raúl del Pozo publishes in El Mundo a column illustrated with some caricatures of Aznar and Felipe González who, together with Alfonso Guerra, has opened an internal dispute in the PSOE against the amnesty. The words of Ayuso still resonate, who, in front of Feijóo, said that his attempts to approach Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE were “newbies.”
Del Pozo quotes Miguel Ángel Rodríguez: “This Government calls Aznar a coup leader because he has asked good people to rise up against Sánchez, against the privileges of the independentists and against those who attack Spain. Well, let’s go to the rebellion! The veteran ‘pen’ points out that MAR [como se conoce al director de Gabinete de Ayuso] “Now he plays the same role with the president of the Community of Madrid that he did with Aznar.” And what she “did with Aznar” was nothing other than designing the communication strategy that accompanied him to Moncloa.
On Thursday Aznar still had time to be the protagonist again. elDiario.es first reported that the PSOE had decided to expel Nicolás Redondo Terreros, who was general secretary of the party in Euskadi, son of the historic UGT unionist Nicolás Redondo, who organized the first general strike against the Government of Felipe González.
And where did you find out about your expulsion? During a meal, also revealed by elDiario.es. Redondo Terreros shared a table with another expelled from the PSOE, the former president of Madrid Joaquín Leguina. And with José María Aznar. According to The world, Aznar asked them to attend the event on September 24 but, always according to this medium, the invitation was declined. On October 8th it is possible that they will attend.
The week concluded with a performance of good harmony between Aznar and Feijóo. The leader of the PP closed the FAES Campus. The president of the foundation attended the event in the front row. He had good words for the Galician, in whom he trusts, according to those who know the internal life of the party closely.
“We are going to listen to the hope of Spain,” Aznar announced to Feijóo. In his speech, the PP leader insisted on the “agreements” that he offered to Sánchez in a meeting held last August. And there are still 10 days left for his inauguration.