Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Night Of The Long Knives

I was going to write another post on the Partido Popular (PP) and their election list for Madrid, but it wasn’t going to be this one. However, the announcement last night that Madrid’s mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardón is not going to get into the PP list for the general election on March 9th is worth looking at. If anyone still had any residual doubt about which sector of the PP is in control of the party then such doubts should have been completely removed by the latest developments.

Esperanza Aguirre is now the standard bearer of the hard right sector in the PP and has won her battle to stop Gallardón getting into the Spanish parliament before she does. This was a key issue for the succession battle that will follow another defeat for Mariano Rajoy, as it is seen as important for the candidates to succeed Rajoy to be members of parliament. Espe is not, and cannot stand as a candidate without resigning as regional president, and then how would she pay her heating bills? According to the press today she threatened to resign her current position so that she could go in the list together with Gallardón, putting maximum pressure on Rajoy to block Gallardon’s progress or face a crisis in Madrid. It’s also perhaps an indication of how little confidence Aguirre has in the prospect of Rajoy winning the election that she was so desperate to win this battle now.

There are now reports that Gallardón is threatening to abandon politics after the election, which strikes me as unlikely given his long proclaimed ambition to reach the top. It is a real setback for him, but his party is simply not ready for him. Even another election defeat is not going to be enough, although a third one might do the trick. The government has been given an unexpected boost by this news; despite trailing the PP in Madrid the capital is still an important source of votes for them, and with the electorally popular Gallardón humiliated there are now votes to be won. Meanwhile, the PP is not a party that likes to publicly exhibit its internal divisions, but if Rajoy loses then book your seat early for what promises to be as vicious and bloody a succession battle as possible. More than an Olympic stadium, what we need now in Madrid is a Roman arena.

No comments: