Politics 21/02/2022

PP war mobilises grassroots and leaves Casado cornered

Hundreds of people ask for PP leader's resignation, who has called a meeting of the leadership for today

4 min
Protest in front of the PP headquarters against Casado by Ayuso's supporters.

MadridUntil this Sunday, the image of militants demonstrating in front of the headquarters of their own party was exclusive to the PSOE. It was in 2016, when dozens of members rallied in front of the building on Ferraz Street to support the current Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, in his struggle with Susana Díaz. Six years later, the scene was repeated this Sunday in Madrid's Calle Génova. Hundreds of people – some 3,500 according to the Spanish government delegation in Madrid – have stood outside the doors of the PP headquarters – in an unannounced demonstration – to show their support for Madrid regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso and demand the resignation of PP president Pablo Casado. The conservative leader is getting pushed further into a corner: the pressure from the grassroots, territorial leaders and the media for him to leave office is growing.

Today Casado will meet the leadership committee, as he usually does on Mondays. However, the meeting takes special relevance because it is where the PP leader and his hard core will have to decide what cards to play as a response to yesterday's demonstration. Since the crisis in the party broke out last Thursday, PP secretary general of the PP and Casado's right-hand man Teodoro García Egea has been in the spotlight. In fact, it is not only Ayuso supporters who have asked for his head; most pf the PP's regional leaders have also asked him to resign. Only the president of Murcia, Fernando López Miras, continues to support the leaderhip.

Casado tried a conciliatory gesture with the president of Madrid on Saturday, when he took for good his explanations about the commission of 55,580 euros + VAT that his brother had charged for buying masks in China, and was willing to close the file on him and was willing to close the file on her . For Ayuso it was not enough and the meeting he held with the popular leader on Friday afternoon ended without agreement. The days have passed and, although the pressure has been growing, Pablo Casado has continued without touching the piece of Egea.

But now we have reached a point where even Egea's resignation would be unlikely to calm the waters. Yesterday in front of the PP headquarters the requests for resignation were no longer directed only towards Teodoro García Egea, but the target was Pablo Casado: "Casado resignation", "Casado, coward", "Ayuso yes, Casado no" and "Ayuso president". Even a banner branded Casado and Egea as "incapacitated" and "puppets" and defended that the solution for the party's ills was Ayuso and others such as Galician president Alberto Núñez Feijóo, Andalusian president Juan Manuel Moreno, MP Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo and former Madrid president Esperanza Aguirre.

Supporters of Ayuso demanding Pablo Casado's resignation in front of the PP headquarters

Demonstrators calls were been joined precisely by Álvarez de Toledo, who sent an explicit message from Seville and asked Pablo Casado to step aside. The mounting pressure not only comes from within the party, but also from conservative media. Newspaper Abc , for example, published an editorial an hour after the demonstration outside the PP Headquarters in which it called for Casado's immediate resignation, and in the afternoon it was joined by El Mundo .

Extraordinary Congress?

In the month of July it will be four years since Pablo Casado took over the reins of the PP after winning the primaries against the former Spanish vice-president, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría. The congress that was to be convened in an ordinary way this summer was supposed to serve to revalidate Casado's leadership with little more than a year to go before the next general elections. It is evident, however, that this will not be the case. If Casado finally yields to the pressures, he would have two options to try to plug the crisis: to sack his right-hand man and wait for the summer congress to debate the party leadership, or to bring the congress forward so members may vote for a new president now. To replace the secretary general, it would not be necessary to call a congress; instead, the executive committee – which includes the national leadership and regional leaders – could validate the change.

To choose a new president, the statutes state that it can only be done through a congress, which can be proposed by the outgoing president himself and must be validated by the members of the executive board –formed by 550 people among the state management, presidents and territorial general secretaries and deputies, senators and mayors–. Or it can also be requested by two thirds of the over 500 representatives of this board. That is, if Casado did not call a congress himself, the critics would have to organise themselves to get the support of 363 board members. It would be the litmus test to see how far the internal opposition to the Casado-Egea tandem would go.

"I call on the members of the PP board of directors for an extraordinary congress now," Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo has already publicly requested today. If the plan is carried out, who could be the alternative to Casado? Galician president Alberto Núñez Feijóo has long been rumoured as an eventual candidate; however, it could also be Isabel Díaz Ayuso herself.

What is certain is that for the moment the Madrid president is not backing down. El Mundo has published new information in which it points the finger to Teodoro García Egea as the mastermind of the spying operation, yet the party has denied it again. The PP's deputy secretary of organization, Ana Beltrán, has also wanted to make public and explicit her support and her "full confidence" in Egea and has regretted the "attacks to destabilise" the party. PP senator Rafael Hernando, without taking sides, has regretted today's demonstration in front of the PP headquarters. "The PP does not demonstrate against the PP," he wrote on Twitter.

Division among MPs

Now, it seems that Casado's public support is also beginning to waver. Several MPs in the Spanish Parliament publicly backed the conservative leader on the day the crisis broke out, but, as reported by Cadena SER and confirmed by ARA, division is growing among parliamentarians. According to parliamentary sources, today Casado loyalists reproached Álvarez de Toledo for her words on a group chat, but the criticism has not been majoritarian, and silence reigned. Casado, increasingly cornered, has it in his hands to make the next move.

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