It is never appropriate, and even less so in these times of absolute schism in the two-party system, to underestimate the capacity of Spanish politics to surprise itself. The script of the investiture plenary session of Alberto Núñez Feijóo that began this Tuesday, with the hallmark of great occasions due to an unusual event – the winner of the elections faces an investiture with a failed prediction with the tangible possibility that his rival could win it -, It seemed written without excessive room for disruption, since the leader of the PP remains stranded in the insufficient sum of 172 seats to reach Moncloa.
But on the day that the leader of the PP worked hard to reveal, with an hour and 42 minutes of speech at his baptism in the Congress gallery, that Pedro Sánchez is willing to “pay the price” to the independentists that he will not pay for becoming head of the Government, the acting president took one of his coups to divert the focus from where his opponent wanted to set it. In an unprecedented gesture in an investiture, the same Sánchez who did debate with Ramón Tamames in the Vox motion of censure let the chalice pass and ignored Feijóo, also delegating one of the most hostile socialist positions against the right, the former mayor of Valladolid Oscar Puente. And the plenary session burst, amid angry shouts – “coward”, in reference to the president; “thug”, towards Puente” – from the popular bench.
If the acrimonious development of the electoral cycle, the short majority of the popular on 23-J and the possibility that the current coalition Executive will remain in power by promulgating the amnesty for those prosecuted for the separatist ‘procés’ were already straining the frames of political coexistence, the contempt of the general secretary of the PSOE for the leader of the PP places the rupture between the two parties that can govern the country at a point of very difficult return.
Aligned with Sánchez and despite criticizing on social networks that “the show is a luxury that only the privileged can afford,” Yolanda Díaz also stood up to her countryman as she had already done in the round of contacts with which he wanted to protect her frustrating investiture. “I’m not going to participate in the comedy club,” Feijóo revolted in front of Sánchez with a perennial smile painted on his face and amidst the joy of the PSOE deputies.
The socialist parliamentary group played the card of confusion, without clarifying whether or not its leader would take the rostrum, until the president of Congress, Francina Armengol, resumed the plenary session at three-thirty in the afternoon, after a midday session in which Feijóo dedicated the 40 pages of his speech to an operation of assembly and disassembly: knowing that, except for a completely unforeseen escape of deputies in his rivals, his investiture is to be lost, the leader of the PP tried to remain whole by combining the breakdown of his improbable government program – the “journey to nowhere,” said Sumar’s spokesperson, Marta Lois – while deconstructing the credibility of Sánchez’s alternative. A Sánchez who, he said, does not have the social and political majority behind him to govern that he would have, however, and armed with his 137 seats, if he were willing to compromise with the amnesty law and the self-determination referendum demanded by Junts y ERC to re-elect the acting president.
The candidate barely took a couple of minutes, once he had greeted those present and declared himself honored to appear, to cite the amnesty for the lyrics that the Government avoids pronouncing as if they were infectious. But, in reality, the ‘leitmotiv’ of the plenary session before Sánchez’s silence destroyed it had been set miles away, in the general policy plenary session in Catalonia, by President Aragonès, when he made Sánchez’s investiture more expensive, calling for the establishment of this legislature the conditions of the referendum.
Feijóo took up the flag of “blackmail” of the independence movement, as he did on Sunday in the street before thousands of people mobilized by his party in Madrid, to propose a new crime of “institutional disloyalty” that would replace the one of sedition repealed by the Government and paint the general secretary of the PSOE as a politician capable of anything for power. Of giving “the Forensic Anatomical Institute to a gang of organ traffickers,” Santiago Abascal would later accuse.
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While Moncloa relativized Aragonés’s demands and the socialists defined Feijóo as “the void”, Sánchez remained silent. And he chose to continue doing so by giving his voice to Oscar Puente, a movement that disrupted the course of the afternoon, causing scandal in the ranks of the popular ones, who interpreted the departure as a lack of institutional respect and deduced that his rival had fear of suffering “another humiliation” like that of the lost television debate in the last 23-J electoral campaign.
With attention diverted from the elephant in the parliamentary room – the erasure of the ‘procés’ -, the president chose Puente with all intention: he headed the list with the most votes on March 28 in Valladolid, with the same councilors as the PP, and lost the Mayor’s Office for the popular pact with Vox; that of “the losers.” A renewed agitation of fear of the right for which Sánchez could not turn this time to Patxi López, his spokesperson in Congress. Because the former Lehendakari was – a visibly upset Feijóo recalled – thanks to the PP.
What happened after overshadowed what happened before – the candidate presented himself as the president who would be “more sensitive” to the Spain of the Autonomies, he tempted Junts and the PNV by ironically saying that Sánchez would end up “deceiving” them and he marked careful and calculated distances with Abascal-; and he also conditioned the afternoon session, in which Feijóo passed the bill for his anger to the three deputies who intervened for Sumar.
“Sánchez does not speak because he does not want to respond,” he concluded in his final dialogue with the independentistas, who responded to him but warned Sánchez. The amnesty should be the prelude to the referendum, stressed Republican Gabriel Rufian. “Junts is not in any Spanish bloc nor will it be, whether the investiture comes out or not,” warned Míriam Nogueras.
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