Before the tie, Feijóo courts Vox and Sánchez campaigns for the coalition

"Vinícius is a monkey", shouted a part of the Mestalla stadium on Sunday.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
22 May 2023 Monday 22:21
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Before the tie, Feijóo courts Vox and Sánchez campaigns for the coalition

"Vinícius is a monkey", shouted a part of the Mestalla stadium on Sunday. Not all, obviously. Although too many fans were silent. "Take care of yours" is the motto of Vox in the Community of Madrid. And in many towns. Yours in front of the others. An invisible but firm line connects the first scene with the far-right slogan. The great mission of Alberto Núñez Feijóo is to put the angry genius of Vox back in the bottle of the PP, who one day decided to uncork “complexes” and uncover what some think, but keep quiet.

That is the great task of Feijóo if he wants to be the undisputed leader of the right, as José María Aznar was in his day. Regroup the center, the right and the ultras. Swallowing Ciudadanos has been more due to their own mistakes than to the merit of the PP. In fact, the transfer has already begun with Pablo Casado. But Feijóo's great challenge is dealing with Vox. The photo of the Valencia bullring with 12,000 followers pursues the regrouping effect, the useful vote. The message of the last week on the part of the PP will be clear: the objective can be caressed with the tips of the fingers, but it can escape. Whoever wants to throw Sánchez out has to concentrate the vote on the PP, even if they are not enthusiastic about it.

The Feijóo bullring pretends to be the packed Mestalla in 1996, a prelude to Aznar's victory. That filling the stadium (55,000 people inside and a few thousand left outside) was the work of Eduardo Zaplana, who a year earlier had ousted the Socialists in the Valencian Community. Manolo Escobar performed and Julio Iglesias himself witnessed the rally. Aznar proclaimed: "There is no need to be afraid that the right will win."

The bullring is not Mestalla, but neither is 2023 1996. The PP has raised this campaign as a plebiscite: Sánchez yes, Sánchez no. He has done it in large part to polarize and attract the useful vote from Vox. But Feijóo intends to do so by setting himself up as an alternative, without competing on the same ground as the extreme right, as would happen if he requested the illegalization of parties like Bildu.

If between the PP and the PSOE there is a technical tie, according to the CIS (with a slight socialist advantage), there is also that battle for third place between Vox and Podemos. The purples have been blurred in this campaign after the internal fights. Its limited role could be a problem for the PSOE, which could win in total number of votes, but lose governments if its left flank is not sufficiently mobilized in some cities and autonomies.

The PSOE campaign follows an immutable script from day one: the announcements of government measures that later go through the Council of Ministers. Sánchez took advantage of the Bildu controversy to put some pressure on his voters, but the PSOE has abandoned the idea of ​​spreading fear of the PP-Vox alliance because it believes that it is amortized and is almost counterproductive.

The president insists in his rallies that he does not make simple promises, but that they are measures that go "to the BOE". The risk for the left is demobilization, especially of the Podemos voter. The president's recipe is to vindicate the work of the government, of the entire government, and the way to remember it is the almost daily announcements. Sánchez will not be able to repeat as president only by competing with Feijóo, but rather he needs to work on a coalition of minorities that will support him.