From Milei to Meloni the PP starts the campaign trapped in the left-wing framework | Spain

With the permission of Argentine President Javier Milei, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is the new protagonist of Spanish politics. The first day of campaigning for last Friday's European elections revolved around the leader of the extremist Brothers of Italy, after a stumble the day before by Alberto Núñez Feijóo. The PP president gave a gift to the PSOE by opening an agreement with Meloni, which he said is “not comparable to other parties considered far-right.” That is why he focused the debate on the issue that the socialists wanted: the agreements with the far right. And they tried to take advantage of that. The government's president, Pedro Sánchez, and several ministers attacked Feijóo for his willingness to agree on community institutions “with the European Vox” – even though the PP already governs jointly with the Vox. Spanish in five autonomous communities – while the popular communities tried to limit the damage by attacking with some confusing statements by the socialist candidate Teresa Ribera about the alliances with Meloni's group. On the first day of the campaign, after several campaigns with acknowledged mistakes in the PP, party sources admit that Feijóo's incident was a setback. There is discomfort within the party about this.

Election strategists know that control over the campaign framework is essential. The first key is to control what you're talking about. That is why the leader of the PP surprised on Thursday by entering motu proprio on the issue that the Socialists have defined as the centerpiece of their campaign, the rise of the extreme right in Europe and the danger of the traditional right handing itself over to these extremist parties. In the European elections, the PSOE is repeating the model that worked for it in the general elections of July last year, when it managed to mobilize the left by stoking fears that Vox would reach the government of Spain through Feijóo. The agreements that the People's Party signed with the ultras to govern five autonomy served the PSOE's argument on a plate.

For this European campaign, the PP's plan is to nationalize it and revolve around the wear and tear of Pedro Sánchez as a result of the amnesty and his wife's professional activities that a court in Madrid is investigating. However, the popular parties recognize that the socialists have managed to dominate the framework, which has gone from Milei to Meloni without hardly touching any national issue. “The Left beats us in setting up the debates,” they admit resignedly in the PP.

Feijóo opened an agreement with Meloni during a colloquium at the Barcelona Economic Circle, according to her immediate team, because that was the position that the candidate for the presidency of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, had taken just a few hours earlier in the debate between the candidates to European Commission to lead. Executive European. They claim that the leader of the PP did not want to contradict the main figure of the European People's Party, who has extended his hand to Meloni, taking into account the fact that it is now likely that the two great European political families, popular and social democrats , no longer join forces and cannot even decide with the Liberals, as in 2019, who will chair the Commission.

It also doesn't hurt Feijóo that the European People's Party condones agreements with some far-right forces, because he is chairman of a party that has governed with the ultras since 2022. Just not at this election moment. Vox believes that the PP leader is “improvised”, according to Ultra Party Executive sources to Europa Press, due to “following Von der Leyen”. In Genoa, they in turn tried to downplay Feijóo's message: “This has nothing to do with the fear that Abascal would become vice president, Meloni is not mobilizing in Spain,” the PP leader's team insisted while the Popular barons developed in their country. areas that are conducting their own campaigns, mobilized to the maximum extent. “These are Andalusian elections, we are risking our bread and our salt,” Andalusia President Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla claimed on Friday.

But the Socialists want it to be a European campaign and to talk about the PP alliances in Brussels. The President of the Government responded to Feijóo on Friday from the same platform, the meeting of the Círculo de Economía in Barcelona. “Yesterday [este jueves] Feijóo said he will not agree with the European Vox. It is a shame, because if we understand Christian Democracy and European Social Democracy, we manage to share the debts, we make the joint purchase of vaccines and Europe works. I have already told you that I will not sit down with Vox in those negotiations for the European Commission. When it is said: 'I agree with the European Vox', it is not only Meloni, but it is [Éric] Zemmour, is the Swedish extreme right, that of Poland. That is incompatible with the approach of European social democracy. What Feijóo said about opening up to the European Vox is very serious. “We are talking about outspoken far-right groups,” Sánchez said..

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And he closed the circle between the 23-J campaign and this one: “What we didn't want for Spain, we don't want in Europe.” In the afternoon, Socialist candidate Teresa Ribera accused Feijóo of “coming out of the bad part of the closet” after opening up to the treaties with Meloni and distinguishing “between good far right and bad far right.”

The PP spent the first day of the campaign with damage control activated. They started by trying to avoid the setback by salvaging some confusing statements made by Socialist candidate Teresa Ribera in an interview last Sunday in The mail, that had gone unnoticed. “The person to ask about Meloni is Ms. Ribera, who said in an interview that she would be open to joining ECR, Vox's party in Europe,” said popular candidate Dolors Montserrat. In that interview, Ribera opened up to agreements with that group, of which Meloni and Vox are part, depending on “the arithmetic of the European Parliament” and “whether the proposals they make are proposals that are in line with the values ​​of more Europe'. , of respect for democracy and the rules of the game, as we will have seen a reintegration into European normality.”

Socialist candidacy sources later clarified that Ribera “has opposed in Spain and in Europe any pact with the far right, with Meloni's European Vox and with Alberto Núñez Feijóo's ultras allies” and that he will oppose any pact with the far right , with Meloni's European Vox and with Alberto Núñez Feijóo's ultras allies. criticized Von der Leyen for whitewashing the far right, such as that of Meloni. But the Podemos candidates, Irene Montero, and Sumar, Estrella Galán, also joined the PP's erosion of the vice president. Montero accused the Socialist candidate of launching her “particularly beloved Georgia” by declaring that the PSOE is “ready to make an agreement” with Georgia Meloni's far right, while Galán asked her for an explanation. During the campaign, darts fly in all directions.

In the PP, the leader's mistake, parallel and outside the position of the leadership cabinet, was received with discomfort. Although the majority of the party shares the content of the statement on Meloni, which they consider “normalized”, party leaders regretted the strategic failure of Feijóo's words. “It wasn't the time to talk about this. Our strategy is to ignore Vox and everything it represents,” admits a member of the European candidacy. Late in the afternoon, Feijóo returned to discipline, ignoring the ultras and all Meloni's controversies, working on the anti-Sanchista message. “What is happening in Spain is not normal. We cannot get used to abnormality. Spain has had good, bad and irregular government presidents, but none like this one. Not even Zapatero,” he said in Murcia. The PP does not want to talk about Europe, but about Spain, and specifically about Sánchez. “Our framework is to try to place the debate in national politics,” emphasizes this popular leader of the European list, “neither Milei nor Meloni interest us.” However, the entire starting week of the European campaign was dominated by those two proper names.

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