Spain’s People’s Party backs Feijóo to restore fortunes

The battered and battered opposition People’s Party in Spain declared Alberto Núñez Feijóo, one of the country’s most experienced politicians, as its new leader on Saturday, as the party sought to find a way. re-established as a party of government.

Feijóo’s choice by 98% of those attending a special congress in Seville following the self-destruction of the previous leadership in an internecine PP fighting.

“This is just the beginning . . . Spain deserves better,” said Feijóo, the longtime leader of Galicia, the northwest region that has produced three of the center-right party leaders in during the 33 years of PP’s existence.

Calling for “adult” rather than “childish” politics, he set goals to cut taxes, improve public services and boost investment.

But the biggest challenge the 60-year-old faces is the rise of the hard-right far-right party Vox, which has eliminated voters from the PP and now rivals the party in the polls. .

“Feijóo is the natural leader of the party, whom the PP should have chosen last time,” said Lucía Méndez, a leading Spanish journalist who has known the politician for 15 years.

“His main goal is to win back the votes his party lost to Vox – if he can’t do it, probably nobody else can.”

Feijóo, who won an absolute majority for the fourth time in a row in the Galician elections in 2020, has led his region while the PP as a whole is in crisis.

The party was removed from national power amid a corruption scandal in 2018 – after which Feijóo refused to run in a divisive battle for leadership – and suffered a bad election defeat. worst next year.

Vox, founded by former PP politicians, then rose in the polls, win 18% in regional elections in Castile-León this February.

Soon after, Pablo Casado, then 41-year-old leader of PP, Push out after months of waning intra-party feuds.

Party officials say this weekend’s congress is an attempt to “reset” the PP as a pro-European centre-right party. Hailing from an area where his native language is Gallego, which shares a common ancestry with Portuguese, Feijóo has declared PP to be a “party of friendly bilinguals”.

His words are a clear reach to areas like Catalonia and the Basque Country, where the PP vote has collapsed – and mark a sharp contrast to Vox, which has won support to reacted to Catalan separatism and wanted a more centralized Spain.

“Feijóo represents a pluralist Spain, not a polarized Spain,” said one official, who said Germany is a country that has been relatively successful in curbing totalitarianism and who has compares Galicia under Feijóo to the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, the regional sister party of the Christian Democratic Party. .

Feijóo took over as the party’s Galicia boss in 2006 from Manuel Fraga, the former French-era minister who founded the PP, and has maintained widespread support since. However, he joined the controversy in 2013, when two decades Photograph surfaced, showing him vacationing with a man later found guilty of drug trafficking. In response to the photos, Feijoo Yes described his choice of holiday companion at the time as naive.

“National politics will be harder and more demanding for Galicia,” Méndez said.

Some critics say Feijóo’s central politics will be severely tested by the need to make deals with Vox, which is about to enter regional government for the first time, as a PP’s junior partner in Castile-León.

Méndez argues that Feijóo should be able to stay out of Vox, as prime minister Pedro Sánchez has largely ruled out Podemos, the radical leftist party in his Socialist coalition.

But not everyone is convinced. “Feijóo has experience, he shows he knows how to manage,” said Lorenzo Bernaldo de Quirós, president of Freemarket, a consulting firm based in Madrid. “But the problem is we don’t know what his project is; We don’t know what he wants.”

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