I've commented before on Mariano Rajoy's almost legendary capacity to put off taking any important decision, but with 2011 only 3 days old we already have another fine example of the syndrome. The former general secretary of the Partido Popular in Aznar's time, Francisco Alvarez Cascos, has been running a noisy campaign for several months to be selected as the PP's candidate for the regional elections in Asturias. Cascos has many enemies in the Asturian PP, and the party there has chosen a different candidate.
Finally, after letting the argument rumble on for months, Rajoy was roused from his deep slumber and the PP acted last week by ratifying the choice of the Asturian party. This decision has provoked Cascos to resign from the PP and there exists a very real threat of him forming his own organisation to contest the elections in May. Cascos has claimed that his resignation after 34 years of PP membership was prompted by a lack of support from the national party in the face of alleged insults that he received from prominent PP members in Asturias. However, it seems far more likely that his exit is simply the result of his campaign to be selected failing. The day is still far off when insulting people ceases to be a common practice in the PP.
What nobody understands is why the national PP took so long to reach their decision given that the Asturians picked their candidate months ago. The party has allowed Cascos to continue with his campaign to try and force the PP to overrule the local party's choice. He has received powerful support in this campaign, implicitly from Aznar and more openly from Esperanza Aguirre. To the extent that the Asturian PP told Aguirre recently to pay more attention to her own affairs, and stop interfering in their business. Fat chance of that happening, and in any case Madrid does better when Aguirre is distracted by other matters.
Rajoy could have taken the same decision a long time ago and even if that wouldn't have avoided Cascos resigning it would have been a far more low profile affair, with less risk of danger for the PP's chances of recovering power in the region. But Rajoy has acted in this case as he seems to act with all major problems, waiting to see whether it will disappear. This is how he has acted with the never-ending conflict between Aguirre and Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, and also with the different crises provoked by the progress of the Gürtel corruption case in Madrid and Valencia. It seems that the case of Cascos reveals another facet of Rajoy's behaviour - it is claimed that Rajoy led Cascos to believe that he had the support of the party's leader when they met. This is not the first time someone has left a meeting with Rajoy believing that he will do one thing, only to find he does the opposite.
Cascos has behaved like a regional cacique, believing that he could impose his will on a party that is hardly noted for the democracy of its internal processes. One of the points made by his critics is that he has effectively abandoned active politics during the bad times only to re-emerge when things start to look good for his party. Another factor, a notable indicator of just how bad his relationship is with the Asturian PP, is that Cascos did much of his campaigning in the place where he was registered as a party member....in Madrid.