The right wing involves the king in the pardons
The big winner of yesterday's rally against pardons in the Plaza Colon in Madrid was the regional president, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, who is increasingly becoming the spearhead of the unapologetic and illiberal right wing that Vox supposedly stands for but in the capital is represents by her better than anyone. So much so that yesterday Ayuso made another misstep and involved King Felipe VI in the question of pardons. "What will the king do, will he sign these pardons?" she asked rhetorically. Perhaps unwittingly Ayuso was crossing a red line and putting the monarchy in an awkward position, since she was somehow calling for the king to breach the role assigned to him by the Constitution, which is none other than to sign what the council of ministers decides.
While Ayuso was pronouncing these words, PP president Pablo Casado's face was a real sight. He not only had to bear the failure of the demonstration (25,000 people when in 2019 there were 45,000) but also saw how the Madrid president started a fire of uncertain consequences that affects the Crown. Ciudadanos was the first party to react to Ayuso's words by calling them "madness", but even journalists close to the monarchy like José Antonio Zarzalejos came out to disavow the Madrid president and remind her that the king could not refuse to sign pardons. By putting the spotlight on the king, Ayuso can create a fracture between Felipe VI and the conservative electorate, which will now interpret what is only a legal formality (the signing of the decrees with the pardons) as a political gesture of support. Will Casado dare disavow Ayuso's words, now she has become his best electoral bet? Surely not.
In any case, Ayuso's words demonstrate the enormous bewilderment affecting the Spanish triple right, which failed to live up toe expectations yesterday in Colón and also showed itself to be divided, rejecting joint photos as in 2019. It seems as if pardons for pro-independence political prisoners did not have the galvanising effect that many thought, a phenomenon that is also being seen in the collection of signatures that the PP is carrying out and that for the moment is far from the numbers achieved in 2006 when they were requested to protest against Catalonia's Statute of autonomy. Yesterday's conclusion is that perhaps a majority of Spanish society is against pardons, but perhaps they do not consider it serious enough to demonstrate.
We cannot be naïve and surely the right will try again, but so far their first attempt has backfired. If PSOE was afraid of a gigantic demonstration, this didn't happen. Therefore, Pedro Sánchez has a free hand to move forward with his plan for pardons and the reform of the crime of sedition as a preliminary step to initiate dialogue with the Generalitat. In politics, when your opponent makes a mistake, you have to move forward. We hope that the Spanish government will make a correct diagnosis of this day.