In Spain, the conservatives break with the liberals to reassert their hegemony on the right

In Spain, the Popular Party (PP, right) seems determined to accelerate the announced collapse of the Liberals of Ciudadanos, to better absorb its disappointed voters and work for the great rally of the rights that it intends to lead before the legislative elections of 2023. Monday 20 December, the president of the regional government of Castile-Leon, the conservative Alfonso Fernandez Mañueco, announced by surprise the dismissal of the four regional ministers of Ciudadanos, with whom he had governed in coalition and in minority since 2019, including the vice-president Francisco Igea. Then, he dissolved the regional parliament, setting February 13 as the date for early elections. According to polls, as in the regional elections in Madrid last May, the PP would emerge stronger from the ballot, while Ciudadanos could disappear from the Parliament of Valladolid.

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Despite the obvious electoral interest of his decision, Mr. Mañueco justified it by referring to the “Lack of loyalty” of Ciudadanos, whom he accused of ” to betray “ the coalition agreement in “Negotiating the budget behind the government’s back” with the Socialist Party and a small local party and preparing a “Motion of no confidence” against him. For several weeks, the regional finance bill had effectively been blocked in Parliament for lack of sufficient support to approve the text. For his part, Mr. Igea denied the maneuvers of which he was accused and was both surprised and angry at a decision responding, according to him, to both “Strategic calculations of the PP” and to “A complicated judicial horizon” for the local right. Several scandals, concerning building permits granted to wind farms, additional costs associated with major works or even alleged illegal financing of the PP of Salamanca should indeed go to court in the coming months.

“Leadership issues”

However, the calling of elections also meets the interests of the national leadership of the PP. Its president, Pablo Casado, is both threatened by the rise of the extreme right Vox in the polls, which he tries to counter by toughening his speech, and by the lightning rise in his camp of the president from the regional government of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a free electron embodying an “uninhibited” right.

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For the president of Ciudadanos, Inés Arrimadas, Mr. Casado seeks to obtain in February “A victory to hide that of Ayuso” and solve “His leadership problems”. “Are they aware that among the regional ministers dismissed from their functions is that of health, in the midst of a new wave of Covid?” “, protested the deputy mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacis, member of Ciudadanos, before recalling that PP and the liberals govern in coalition in nearly 130 municipalities.

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In Spain, the conservatives break with the liberals to reassert their hegemony on the right

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