Thursday, March 27, 2008

Who Will Speak For Rajoy?

With the formation of a new government that looks very much like the old government, and with the very slow dance in progress between the PSOE and potential allies to form a parliamentary majority, it’s much more interesting to look at what’s happening inside the Partido Popular (PP). Parliamentary business has already resumed in the build up to the vote on the new government, and currently all significant negotiations involving the PP are being handled by Eduardo Zaplana. Wait a minute, didn’t he resign recently from his position as PP parliamentary spokesperson? So he did, but PP leader Mariano Rajoy has one thing in common with me in that he never decides today what he can leave until after his holidays.

Rajoy’s post-election holiday has now ended and the appointment of a new spokesperson in parliament might seem like the most routine of political decisions; Zapatero has already made his move and placed his good friend José Antonio Alonso in the equivalent position for the PSOE. However, for the PP the decision that Rajoy takes assumes greater importance because it could be the first really clear indicator of where the power lies in the party following their latest election defeat. So in the public interest South of Watford has prepared the following pull out and keep guide to the potential candidates for the post.

Soraya Sáenz de Santamaria – If she gets the job then Rajoy is placing his own people in key posts, as she belongs to his inner circle of advisors.

Esteban González Pons – This man is seen as the representative in Madrid of the Valencian president Francisco Camps, so if he gets the position then that suggests Rajoy and Camps have done a deal on sharing power in return for Camps supporting Rajoy as leader. It would also be a big slap in the face to Zaplana who has lost his battle with Camps to control the Valencian PP.

Manuel Pizarro – What do you do with a retired millionaire businessman who never really signed up for the idea of spending four years in opposition? Pizarro turned out to be a disaster as the PP’s secret election weapon on economic issues and would be equally disastrous as parliamentary spokesperson. His name has been suggested for the post by Esperanza Aguirre so if he was appointed it would be a significant gesture in her direction. So not the most the likely option then. Incidentally, it’s been very quiet around Madrid recently whilst Aguirre has been digesting the consequences of Rajoy staying on as PP leader.

We should know in the next few days and of course it could always be someone else apart from these three candidates. Place your bets.


moscow said...

I don't kow. To me the situation within the PP seems extremely unstable. To say the least, I think the potential for instability is huge. Rajoy has not been particularly good at handling iternal conflict in the past. I bet there are a lot of unhappy people in the PP. Being in opposition is tough. You have to endure watching your opponents enjoying the trappings of power. Meanwhile, you have no real job to speak of. The longer the PP stays in opposition the greater the frustation will be. This frustration is generaly more accentuated amongst conservatives, because they tend to have better paid jobs out of politics. For me the question is, how long will Rayoy last? The PP has just gone throught the William Hague phase. Will it now be the Duncan-Smith, the Michael Howard or the David Cameron phase? On to another electoral defeat in 4 yrs time? If they don't wake up soon they could botch this one as well.
As for the PSOE, I am curious only about two ministerial postings: 'Trabajo' and 'Industria'. If Zapatero gets theses ones wrong again, Spain will have another 4 yrs without - now extremly urgent - reforms.

Graeme said...

Well I don't think Rajoy is there with any intention of standing down before the next election - that would just be humiliating for him. In any case there are powerful people in the party who are prepared to wait for their chance to come. I think it will take at least another election defeat for the PP to enter a "David Cameron" phase. Of course if things go very badly for the government then the PP with their 10 million loyal votes could yet win an election without even having to leave cro-magnon politics behind them.