The failure in Colón and the defeat of Díaz strengthen the Spanish government regarding the pardons

Casado censures Ayuso for involving King Felipe VI in the pardons issue and the Zarzuela guarantees the signature

4 min
Pedro Sanchez represented Spain yesterday at the NATO summit in Brussels.

MadridIt's been three weeks since Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez surprised everyone by paving the way for pardons for pro-independence leaders from Brussels. Since then, the rain of criticism that the Moncloa has received has not changed the message that there is no possible backtracking on the pardons. The government has charged ahead for the approval of the Council of Ministers -the Minister of Territorial Policy, Miquel Iceta, insisted on RAC1 that they are "very close" - and Sanchez is pushing back much better than many had imagined: the demonstration of the triple right was not as massive as expected and has appeased - at least publicly - the criticism from socialist ranks.

Yesterday, the Spanish President avoided making a statement about a specific date. This is in the context of a new day in Brussels in the framework of the NATO summit, marked by the failure of the first meeting with American President, Joe Biden - expectations of the bilateral meeting had been high. Sánchez, however, returned to defend the pardons because "there is nothing more constitutional than building coexistence". In fact, pardoning the political prisoners next week could be a way to avoid being interpreted as a counterpart to the next meeting planned between Sánchez and the President of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonès, at the Moncloa, which still has no date but will occur once the Spanish President receives the Andalusian Juanma Moreno (PP) this Thursday.

A "new stage" for PSOE-A

There were those within the coalition government who believed that the time between the decision to pardon and the concession took away some of Sanchez's strength, but the Spanish President was met with a series of unexpected favorable events last week strengthening his position. First, thanks to the failure of the demonstration in the Plaza Colón, where a divided triple right only managed to gather half as many people compared to 2019. Secondly, because of the division in the PP, after Pablo Casado had to come out yesterday to correct the Madrid President, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, for having pushed Felipe VI not to sign the pardons despite the fact that the King does not have this power - even the Zarzuela recalled that the King is "faithful to his constitutional functions". And thirdly, because of the defeat of Susana Diaz in the primaries to be the next candidate for the Junta de Andalucía against candidate for Ferraz, the Mayor of Seville, Juan Espadas. A sample of the control that Sanchez has over the party apparatus, after he was the one who forced the call for primaries.

The Socialist leader yesterday showed Diaz the door. She has decided to maintain her position as Secretary General until the regional Congress scheduled for the end of the year. Sanchez said that "democracy has already spoken" and the people want "regeneration", but for now the direction of the PSOE will not impose a manager team as the head of the party in Andalusia to prevent Diaz's team from designing the next Congress. The federal socialist executive warned, however, that "a new stage is opening" with Espadas and reminded the former Andalusian President that "it is the militancy who places and removes leadership in the PSOE", in the words of the party's secretary of organization, Minister José Luis Ábalos, who stressed that "there is no hurry" to change the Andalusian leadership seen that the change has already been consolidated.

As for the PP, the effects from the demonstration in Colón were difficult to digest. The party was already suffering from the outcome of the protest - especially for the instrumentalisation that could form Vox- and, in fact, Casado avoided stepping on the center of the square after receiving some whistles. But little did he trust that it was Ayuso who eclipsed the day with some out-of-tone protests. "What will the King do from now on? Will he sign the pardons? Will they make him accomplice in this?", the Madrid President wondered on Sunday. Yesterday, Casado categorically disavowed it during the presentation of what will be the PP Congress in the fall. "There are no more accomplices of the sad pact of the pardon other than its protagonists," he said, after different party officials said they had misinterpreted the words of Ayuso all morning. The President of Madrid herself clarified in the afternoon: "The King is not an accomplice to anything. I am hurt by the compromise to which he will be subjected".

The Spanish government took advantage of Ayuso's slip to charge ahead against PP. Miquel Iceta already asked Casado in the morning to clarify whether Ayuso's words "represented the position of the PP". And Ábalos contrasted the "cowardice" of the popular leader, who "hid to avoid being whistled at" during the demonstration against pardons, to the "generosity" of the PSOE, which was trying to resolve the territorial conflict. Podemos, in turn, replied ironically. Their spokesman, Rafa Mayoral, "thanked" Ayuso on Twitter: "With her statements we are one step closer to the republic".

The PP collects 300,000 signatures

"Of course the King is not an accomplice in anything. All the blame falls on the President of the government", Ayuso insisted yesterday after sources in the Zarzuela consulted by ARA said that it is "logical" that the King signs the pardons when they reach him because he is "faithful" to his obligations. Once again, Ayuso has put Casado on the ropes. And it was she who was the first to confirm her presence at the Colón rally when the popular leadership was doing everything possible to try to avoid being put back into the same box as Vox.

Be that as it may, Casado's plan against pardons has not just arisen. Until yesterday, the PP had collected 300,000 signatures against the concession, far from the 800,000 that Mariano Rajoy collected against the Catalan Statute of Autonomy - and then could not be collected electronically. Only on Sunday, the PP claims to have added 50,000 more to add pressure to Sanchez.