Tuesday June 20. The PP pact with Vox to govern the Generalitat Valenciana has been at the center of the national political debate for a week. The agreement generates a great impact due to the speed and the number of transfers to the extreme right: the presidency of the Corts, the vice presidency of the Consell and the powers of Culture, Justice, Interior and Agriculture. With a bullfighter as vice president and with the assumption of the ultra agenda in matters such as sexist violence, occupation, abortion or memory. But, just that day, the spotlights turn from Valencia to Extremadura.
When María Guardiola assured that she would get out of the way rather than govern with Vox
“I cannot let into my government those who deny sexist violence, who dehumanize immigrants or who throw the LGTBI flag into a trash can.” The leader of the Extremaduran PP, María Guardiola, emerges with her own voice in the middle of the pre-campaign of 23J to distance herself from the general tendency among the popular to agree without complexes with the ultra-right and in exchange for anything to govern in coalition wherever necessary . “The only thing I have is my word,” Guardiola said in an appearance that she left her Valencian colleague Carlos Mazón on the ground. The Extremaduran leader did not know it yet, but there were only ten days left before the pressure from the national leadership of her own party, sponsored by Ayuso and Vox, managed to twist her arm.
Guardiola’s position regarding Vox was not new. Faced with the challenge of wresting power from the PSOE in one of its traditional strongholds, he had staged a centrist profile in his career for the Junta in line with the leadership of Juanma Moreno in Andalusia and with the same objective as this: to attract dissatisfied voters with the socialists. In the months prior to 28M, the distance from him had been explicit with the postulates of those of Abascal on issues such as sexist violence, the right to abortion or the rights of the LGTBI collective. And, for this reason, the leader of the PP in Extremadura was not taken by surprise by the campaigns of contempt that the extreme right intensified towards her and her team.
“The blonde from Extremadura is preparing to cede the Extremadura government to the socialists so as not to depend on Vox,” columnist Alfonso Ussía said on an ultra website 48 hours after the elections and after echoing a hoax launched by another ultra propagandist in social networks. In his radio program, the announcer Federico Jiménez Losantos did not spare insults either. “Go add up, or go scrub, or go weed, or go learn to read,” he told her, referring to his defense of the fight against sexist violence. From the official Vox account on Twitter they published a photomontage with the PP policy in front of the PSOE logo: “If you want everything to stay the same and insult Vox voters like the satellites on the left, then agree with the left. No one would know the difference,” the tweet read.
Guardiola then thought that, in parallel to the barrage of attacks and insults from the extreme right, he had the backing of his party to go ahead with his own plan, as spokesman Borja Sémper had publicly stated. But he was wrong.
His words about Vox had generated concern in some territorial leaders who were also pending to close their government agreements, such as Jorge Azcón in Aragón or Marga Prohens in the Balearic Islands. In Valencia, Carlos Mazón had felt directly attacked. They all sent their discomfort to Calle Génova for allowing the leader of Extremadura to do “whatever she wanted” and conveyed the same message: “She is putting everything at risk.”
The candidate for the presidency of Extremadura, meanwhile, was starring in a media tour with live interviews on radio and television, monopolizing all the focus of national politics. “A star is born,” said Ana Rosa Quintana after interviewing her. “Unusual, a candidate keeping her word,” also praised the Onda Cero journalist, Carlos Alsina. All this was not going to last long.
From the national leadership of the PP, where there was also concern about the decibel level that the clash with Vox was beginning to reach in full countdown to the generals, they gave Guardiola the first warning. “Stop doing interviews,” ordered the deputy secretary general for organization, Miguel Tellado, a leader with a low political profile but who is the person Feijóo entrusts with solving problems, now in Madrid and before in Galicia.
When María Guardiola travels on the 23rd as a guest to the inauguration of Isabel Díaz Ayuso, she already knows that she also has the Madrid president in front of her, but what she lives that day ends up making it clear to her. One of those present summarizes what, in his opinion, it meant for Extremaduran politics to attend that act: “It was a trap, they sang the forty.” With hardly any interaction with Ayuso herself, who according to those present did to show her tension, a good number of party colleagues and members of the leadership did address Guardiola to demand that he lower his tone with Vox and urgently redirect the negotiations. . Something that Feijóo himself also transmitted to him in person.
In the Puerta del Sol and right in the place of the square where the Extremaduran candidate left the Real Casa de Correos, a small group of people waits for her to insult her. Spontaneous indignation or not, it coincides that there is an OkDiario camera to record the moment: “You scoundrel, solve the Extremadura thing!” they yelled at him. Hours later, even Esperanza Aguirre intervenes, no longer charged in the PP but always aligned with the hardest wing of the party. She sends Guardiola a clear message via WhatsApp: “Don’t put Extremadura before Spain.” Everyone in the Popular Party understands that Aguirre works for Ayuso.
The president of the Community of Madrid, out of the national media focus for weeks and overshadowed by voices like María Guardiola’s despite her absolute majority, waited to give her opinion the next day through the newspaper’s front page The world. “At this decisive moment for Spain, you have to meet Vox despite disagreeing,” the interview was titled. In the subtitle, he added: “It would be a shame if they did not get the change.”
During that weekend, OkDiario also published a private audio of María Guardiola’s main adviser, Santiago Martínez-Vares. In this filtered audio, the CEO of the Rebellious Words company responds to his interlocutor after a campaign of harassment from the extreme right that involves direct relatives such as the son and father of Martínez-Vares: “As of today I have no other obsession in my life to end Vox ”, he defends himself in that audio. The far-right media environment points to him as responsible for promoting the “leftist profile” of the policy that denies them entry into the Government. The Rebellious Words team, after the success achieved in the regional elections, denies having any role in the negotiations but announces that same day that it is no longer advising Guardiola in order “not to harm him”.
In parallel to the simultaneous offensive by Vox, Ayuso and the national leadership of her own party, the leader of the PP from Extremadura decides to convene a Regional Board of Directors to address the state of the negotiations to form a government. But on Calle Génova they pick up the phone again. Feijóo’s man for everything, Miguel Tellado, transfers her anger to her for having learned of that call through the press and demands that she call it off.
In that conversation, she flies over the internal division of the PP of Extremadura itself and the hypothesis that she may lose organic control of the formation she leads. Guardiola cancels the appointment and sends a letter to the affiliates in which he says, mainly, two things. Being “very aware” that the “agreement with the formation of Vox in Extremadura” is “essential”, and that “nothing and no one” should divert the popular from the “most immediate challenge” of taking Feijóo to Moncloa.
It is the first time that Genoa has twisted Guardiola’s arm, but it will not be the last. During those days the pressure from Feijóo’s team on the Extremaduran leader is incessant. Even the leader of the PP himself discredits her in public and refers to her words about Vox as an “inadequate reaction” during her interview in ‘El Hormiguero’.
Now without his advisers, the order transferred to him by the general coordinator, Elías Bendodo, and the vice secretary of organization, Miguel Tellado, is to close a government agreement with those of Abascal as soon as possible. Tellado writes to him via WhatsApp: “The Extremadura debate is over, now it’s only time to talk about Sánchez.”
The president of the PP of Extremadura threatened to present her resignation on several occasions and it became, in fact, a decision expected by many people in the party. However, in the middle of the week she appears in the Assembly and tells the press: “Vox is a constitutional party with which I want to agree.” The rectification was underway.
Friday June 30. María Guardiola appears with a very serious gesture before the media together with the regional leader of Vox, Ángel Pelayo Gordillo. They have just signed an agreement to govern in coalition sealed the day before. They shake hands. The leader of the PP of Extremadura will be president of the Junta and she will have a seat on the extreme right in her Governing Council. “My word is not as important as the future of Extremadura,” she says. She also publicly maintains that she has not received pressure from anyone. Word of Maria Guardiola.
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