Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I think it’s time to have a post about Esperanza Aguirre, everybody else is talking about her so I don’t see why this blog should be any different? I have to say that I have been surprised recently by PP leader Mariano Rajoy, quite pleasantly surprised in some ways, because of his forthright and vehement attacks on Aguirre and her media backers. This came to a head at the weekend when Rajoy more or less invited those who are not happy with the direction the party is going in to take a walk and form their own parties. He didn’t mention Aguirre by name, but few doubt that she was his target. Had Rajoy been a king he would long ago have gone down in history with the title of “Mariano the Indecisive”, but since the election defeat a new Rajoy has been born. Which is not to say that I like him any better, but at least on one issue we share a more or less common position; that’s one more than existed a few short weeks ago.

Everyone knows that Aguirre wants to be leader of the PP, and the coy game she is playing at the moment is almost certainly just because she is waiting to see whether enough support can be drummed up amongst the delegates for June’s PP conference that are being elected this week. 600 is the magic number, that’s how many delegates she needs to be able to challenge Rajoy for the leadership. Madrid has only a little over 200 out of a total of 3000, so Aguirre’s control over that region’s party machine is not enough. An attack on the Andalucian party by one of her supporters last week will hardly have helped her cause as that region is entitled to over 400 delegates alone. An additional problem is that it’s difficult to canvass for support when officially you are proclaiming that you have no intention of standing.

Appearing on prime time television last night Aguirre continued with her game, whilst clearly revelling in the way in which she is attracting attention. In amongst the rest of her deliberately ambiguous statements she did let slip that the PP candidate for the next election does not get definitively decided this year, as there has to be another party congress in 3 years time. There we have Plan B in the event of her calculating that June is too soon for her to take on Rajoy. That, however, would be her very last chance and things need to go badly for Mariano Rajoy in the meantime. If she decides to wait for the following party congress then we will have the interesting situation where a sizeable section of the PP will be hoping that they lose heavily in the European or Galician elections so that they can get rid of Rajoy. She is under considerable pressure at the moment from the party machinery, she expected to have a clear run at the leadership following the election but then “Mariano the Angry” decided to stand his ground.

The brazen ability that Aguirre has to make completely false statements without batting an eyelid almost provokes admiration. Her assertions the other week that the PP has no trace of homophobia and that it is the party that has done most for Cataluña were delivered from the planet Espe where nothing is quite how it seems to be. Where I could agree with her is on the need for the PP to examine the reasons for their latest defeat, but there is a queue here – they should start by asking themselves why they lost the 2004 election. Meanwhile her media backers have turned the heat on Rajoy, Federico Jiménez Losantos declared the other day that he regretted ever having asked PP supporters to support Rajoy in the election. Nobody should feel too sorry for Mariano, those who are now attacking him spent the last four years freely insulting almost everyone else without Rajoy doing anything about it. I did expect a bit of blood on the carpet following the election, but events have exceeded my expectations. It’s great political theatre, and the show could run for years.


moscow said...

Don't let anybody say Zapatero is not as lucky as hell.

I agree, this is only the start. I bet Zaplana and Acebes are only waiting their opportunity to stab Rajoy in the back, in Catalonia the infighting has already started, meanwhile in Madrid Gallardon has started to position himself against Aguirre's shop opening de-regularization...what a bloody mess.

Colin said...


Could you do me/us a favour and put the top 10/15 PP people into their several factions and give us a handy label for each one. Or perhaps 2 labels - the Continental European one and the Anglo-Saxon one.

I agree that it's great theatre but I for one could do with a Dramatis Personae. I like to know who's wielding the knife in whose direction.


PS Don't you just love the way keeps on smiling through, and without seeming to ever look directly at the person she's with. She'll go a long way.

Colin said...

Espe, I meant. Of course.

Graeme said...

Not as easy as it sounds Colin - there are several factions here and some belong to more than one:

TA (Traditional Azanarist) - Cascos, Zaplana, Acebes, San Gil, Mayor Oreja

This faction is generally critical of Rajoy because they are being edged out the way by the new faces.

A (Aguirrista) - This is the hardest of all because no significant figures have declared themselves for Aguirre, why would they if she doesn't declare herself. But could include San Gil and Cascos as well as the woman who ran in Castilla La Mancha (Cospedal) who was an Aguirre supporter. Also Manuel Pizarro but he doesn't count for very much in the party.

AA (Anti Aguirre) - Camps, Arenas, Gallardón and your man in Galicia with too many o's in his name. Each for their own reasons.

R (Rajoyista) - Saenz de Santamaria, Fraga, Pio Garcia Escudero

AA and R are more or less united at the moment because neither wants Aguirre. TA seems to be splitting between those who are keeping quiet and those who are grumbling. If Aguirre was to stand then they would become more vocal. The most interesting question of all is: what does the little man with the moustache think? Where is Aznar, why doesn't he say anything?

Colin said...


This is excellent. But policy differences, as opposed to personal animosities?? Are there many? Ignoring the 11-M conspiracy issue.

Graeme said...

Colin, I have a post in preparation on the "ideological" aspects of the PP infighting. I just need a bit more of this warm Madrid spring sunshine to make it bloom - hopefully next week it will emerge. I have so many things that I want to write about at the moment that I could probably do 3 or 4 posts a day - if I wasn't so lazy.