Five months after assuming the leadership of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo will have his long-awaited this Tuesday face to face with Pedro Sanchez. The President of the Government will appear in the Senate to “report on the Plan for saving and energy management and its territorial perspective, as well as its economic and social context”. The reason for the appearance stirred up the PP, despite the fact that it had been Feijóo who had challenged Sánchez to debate in the Upper House just a few hours before. The PP responded with a statement asking the president for a “rectification” and for him to appear to “talk about the economic and social uncertainties.”
Sánchez will appear in the Senate as Feijóo claimed, which now demands a debate on general policy
The complaint was short-lived because, ultimately, Feijóo had achieved what, in theory, he wanted. Since he replaced the ousted Pablo Casado at the head of the PP, one of the main problems that he was going to have to overcome as head of the opposition became evident: his absence from Congress. Feijóo was appointed senator by the Parliament of Galicia before making the final leap to Madrid, but the Spanish bicameral system is not symmetrical and the weight of the Lower House leaves the Senate with very little political capacity and little media exposure.
Since April, Feijóo has only been able to hold a brief debate with Sánchez in the Senate, within the framework of a government control session. But, unlike what happens in Congress, in the Upper House this format only occurs once a month, and the presence of the president is not even guaranteed on all occasions. Since then there have been no more duels. That first, and so far only, parliamentary question was focused on the economy. Feijóo did not shine, he made a big mistake in the matter he had chosen and, above all, he confirmed that the format is very favorable for the Prime Minister, who solved the face to face no more problems.
Sánchez said goodbye to his rival in the 2023 general elections until after the summer, but before that he called the debate on the state of the nation in Congress. The PP once again crashed into the wall of reality, Feijóo could only attend the most important general policy debate held in the Lower House as a silent guest. The defense of the PP was assumed by the general secretary and parliamentary spokesperson, Cuca Gamarra, who abandoned the “moderate” profile that the Galician leader wants to appear to differentiate himself from Casado.
At the beginning of the political course, Feijóo went on the offensive. In a speech surrounded by the staff of his party in Galicia, he demanded a debate from Sánchez in the Senate. The Government hesitated at first and referred to the control sessions, but the turn of the European Commission (which is chaired by Ursula Von der Leyen, German and member of the European PP) on the need to intervene in the electricity market and to implement a similar to the Iberian exceptionality for the EU countries, changed the framework.
Sánchez picked up the glove and this Tuesday the first debate of the course will be held between the two. The format continues to be favorable to the president, who will enjoy unlimited time both in his initial statement and in his responses to the different groups. But the leader of the PP will have more time: 15 minutes in his initial speech and five more in the reply turn.
20 minutes to expose the PP’s energy plan, which has begun to outline this Monday: tax cuts, increase nuclear and “all sources”, including the most polluting, promote renewables and compensate companies that suffer from the high cost of the light. The rest of the measures are supposed to arrive this Tuesday, although Feijóo promised to transfer them in a document to Moncloa.
But Feijóo will go beyond the energy framework that, they say in Genoa, is more convenient for Sánchez. The PP leader wants a “general policy” debate, and so he will try to raise it. This Monday, at an informative breakfast, he delved into an idea that he has already expressed on several occasions: Sánchez’s fall is only a matter of time. Feijóo compared the president with the protagonist of The Autumn of the Patriarch, the novel by Gabriel García Márquez that alludes to an elderly dictator who was intended to symbolize the dictatorships of Latin America. The leader of the PP makes these types of allusions compatible with complaints to the Government, whom he accuses of insulting him. The strategists of the main opposition party, in any case, assume that Sánchez’s cabinet is sentenced.
But the general elections are not scheduled until the end of 2023. Almost a year and a half of margin, with regional and municipal elections in between. A trip that can be long for Feijóo if he does not make the most of the few opportunities he has to confront Pedro Sánchez. The first did not go particularly well. This Tuesday, he will have the second.