“If you are the candidate with the most votes, I am going to abstain. If it’s me, are you going to abstain?” It was the offer that Alberto Núñez Feijóo made to Pedro Sánchez at the time of the ‘face to face’ that was scheduled to talk about sexist violence. It is a trick offer that the PP has systematically failed to comply with despite its traditional opposition to the “losers’ pacts”, which was how it baptized the regional and municipal agreements with which the left snatched much of its institutional power in 2015, when the bankruptcy of bipartisanship began. Virtually all the power that the conservatives retained in 2019 was thanks to pacts with Ciudadanos and the far right despite not having won the elections. It happened, for example, in Madrid with Isabel Díaz Ayuso and José Luis Martínez-Almeida, or in Castilla y León. But the move has been repeated after the elections on May 28 with Feijóo at the head of the PP.
Feijóo buries his proposal that the most voted list govern to steal territorial power from the PSOE
Barely a week after the municipal and regional elections, the PP began to sign agreements to govern municipalities, cities and communities in which the Socialists were the first force. Molina de Segura (Murcia) was the first signature and, with it, the first breach of the promise that the leader of the PP had made half a year earlier with all the pageantry in the Oratorio de San Felipe Neri, in Cádiz, where in 1812 the first Spanish constitution (‘La Pepa’) was signed. First he circumscribed it to the town halls and, later, to the communities.
It took the same time to skip it for the autonomies. The PP reached an agreement with the Canary Islands Coalition to remove Ángel Víctor Torres, who won the elections with 27% of the votes. The conservatives, who were third, will form part of the government presided over by the nationalist force, which was in second position. But it’s not the only case.
“Tell Guillermo Fernández Vara,” Sánchez repeated each time throughout the debate Feijóo invited him to sign an agreement in which he promised to let him govern if he is the most voted force. In Extremadura, the PSOE has been in first position and, after several blows, the popular María Guardiola will be the president of a coalition executive with the extreme right. The Baroness went so far as to say that she would step aside rather than govern with Vox: “I cannot allow those who deny gender violence, those who dehumanize immigrants, or those who throw the LGTBI flag into a bin to enter the government.” . “I put my word behind the interest of the people of Extremadura,” she said days later, to justify the agreement with the formation of Santiago Abascal.
Support from the far right
The PP has reached agreements to govern with the extreme right in important cities in which the socialist mayors had been in first position, such as Valladolid, Burgos, Toledo or Guadalajara. The maneuver was repeated in dozens of the 140 municipalities in which the PP seized power thanks to the support of Vox, such as Calvià (Balearic Islands), Xirivella (Valencia) or Níjar (Almería).
Feijóo has thus endorsed the strategy that the PP began with Pablo Casado in 2018. Juanma Moreno Bonilla seized power in Andalusia after 37 uninterrupted years of socialist power with the worst results in the party’s history. Thus, she reached the Board with its 26 seats and the 21 of Ciudadanos thanks to the endorsement of the extreme right.
Months later, in the regional and municipal governments, much of the institutional power he achieved was thanks to this type of “losers’ pacts.” Isabel Díaz Ayuso arrived at Puerta del Sol with the worst result for the conservatives. Ángel Gabilondo was ahead of him by five points and seven seats, but Ciudadanos then chose to maintain the PP government with the support of Vox. The same thing happened in the city council of the capital, where Begoña Villacís took over the vice mayor’s office, despite the fact that Manuela Carmena and the socialists added more votes. The extreme right tipped the balance in her favor.
The defectors of Murcia
In Castilla y León, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco’s pact with Francisco Igea left the socialist Luis Tudanca without options, who after many years of the PSOE in opposition won the elections. Following in the wake of Ayuso, who in 2021 electorally crushed those who had been his partners, Mañueco brought forward the elections. Despite being in first position by the minimum, he needed to agree and allowed the ultra-right to enter a regional government for the first time.
In the Region of Murcia, Fernando López Miras took over the presidency despite the fact that the Socialists had won the elections. Halfway through the legislature, he retained power thanks to several defectors from Ciudadanos who, after committing to second a motion of censure, changed their minds.
The same formula to seize power was followed in numerous municipalities after the 2019 municipal elections. In Zaragoza, Jorge Azcon seized the baton of command despite the fact that today’s minister Pilar Alegría had garnered 26% of the votes. In Badajoz, Francisco Javier Fragoso, from the PP, was reelected as mayor, although it was the PSOE that won with 37% of the vote. PP and Ciudadanos shared the mayoralty, two years each. In Granada, PP and Vox allowed Luis Salvador to govern with only four of the 27 councilors in order not to allow the Socialists to govern, who won with 32.5% of the vote. The situation changed in 2021 and the socialist Francisco Cuenca took over the reins.