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Reunion of ‘aznarismo’ at the Teatro Real… without the ministers who went to jail

“Aznar? The name sounds a bit familiar to me, but the face has no idea”. “I do have something, I’m going to tell my grandfather.” Lucía, Blanca, Yaiza and some friends drink soft drinks and beers on a terrace in front of the Teatro Real in Madrid. Before the commotion of journalists they ask what event is there. They are between 17 and 18 years old and do not recognize most of the faces that enter the building on Felipe V street. The event is the birthday of José María Aznar, who was Prime Minister between 1996 and 2004, who brought together this Saturday family, friends and ex-colleagues at a private party to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Feijóo invokes in Valencia the PP of the past before the May elections

Feijóo invokes in Valencia the PP of the past before the May elections


Among the attendees, almost all the old guard of the Popular Party that accompanied him in his eight years in the Presidency of the Government. After the honoree and his direct relatives — his wife, Ana Botella, and his children and grandchildren — former Defense Minister Federico Trillo was one of the first to arrive. “Come on, the one who ‘sends eggs’!”, He was heard then say to one of the onlookers who had stopped before the access door, on one of the sides of the Theater. This one, he was well over fifty.

It was almost eight thirty at night. During the next hour, several former ministers, prominent members of the PP, businessmen… were arriving at the party, which took place in one of the rooms reserved for holding private events.

The last to arrive, at the stroke of half past nine, was the current party leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who was accompanied by his partner. “I come for a birthday,” he said when asked about his recent meal with Pablo Casado just a few meters away this week. Casado, who was Aznar’s chief of staff after leaving La Moncloa, was also not on the anniversary of his mentor. The one who until a year ago was the leader of the party was one of the great absences of the night. But not the only one. Nor was his successor appointed by hand, Mariano Rajoy, with whom Aznar met three weeks ago at the PP’s XXVI Intermunicipal in Valencia in a photo that Feijóo’s team sold as proof of the pacification of the party. Married did not appear there either.

Feijóo, who came from a rally in Santiago de Compostela and who was never counted among ‘Aznarismo’, said that his gift to the former president was “a notebook”. “Isn’t Pedro Sánchez coming?” a journalist asked him. “It’s a good question,” replied the head of the opposition while he managed to climb the seventh and last step and almost run into the theater. Sánchez did not attend the birthday, but neither did the recent presidents of the PP. At Aznar’s party, leaders close to Aznar of 2023 and some old glories with whom he maintains friendship and the requirement of not having gone to jail were mainly cited.

Nine former ministers

There were former ministers already outside the first line such as Ángel Acebes, Francisco Álvarez Cascos, Isabel Tocino, Ana Mato, Jaime Mayor Oreja, Esperanza Aguirre or José María Michavila. The president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, and the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez Almeida, also attended separately. Almost none wanted to make statements. Nor was Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, who became mayor of Madrid (2003-2011) at Aznar’s request and included Botella on the lists. She later ended up as councilor between 2011 and 2015.

Those who were not seen appearing are other former Aznar collaborators who have also been out of the front line for some time but who have not stopped making headlines for their involvement in corruption cases. For example, his all-powerful vice president, Rodrigo Rato. That symbol of the “economic miracle” that goes from bench to bench and accumulates a sentence for black cards -for which he has been in prison- and has another case pending on the origin of his fortune for alleged corruption, money laundering and tax offense.

Jaume Matas, who accompanied Aznar as Minister of the Environment in his second term, was not at the party either. The one who was president of the Balearic Islands for more than a decade has up to four convictions in corruption cases. Despite this, Aznar vindicated his political figure in his statement as a witness in the trial of box B of the PP. “He was an excellent Minister of the Environment, he won the elections and was a good president of the Balearic Islands,” he said then.

Nor did another of Aznar’s great collaborators who is dotted with scandals attend: Eduardo Zaplana. The one who was president of the Generalitat Valenciana between 1995 and 2002 and Minister of Labor will sit on the bench for the alleged plot of the ‘Erial case’. The Prosecutor’s Office accuses him of leading an alleged criminal organization with a perfectly structured distribution of roles that moved up to 20.6 million euros in scattered bribes in tax havens and asks for him 19 years in prison. He was also in provisional prison for this case.

The “giant” Tamames

Esperanza Aguirre, who came on crutches, was one of the few who stopped to attend to the journalists. And she did it by showing that it is still a loose verse. When asked about the motion of no confidence that the extreme right of Vox plans to promote with Ramón Tamames as a candidate, she said that the former leader of the PCE will not be elected despite the fact that he is “a giant of economic thought” and “there are many reasons to censor Pedro Sanchez”.

Aguirre went with her husband, Fernando Ramírez de Haro, who was carrying a bag from an exclusive store specializing in cashmere clothing. Other guests carried packages from luxury brands such as Loewe or Hermès, although none wanted to reveal what gift she had thought of for the former president.

Among the attendees there was no lack of Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, one of the great representatives of ‘aznarismo’. Álvarez de Toledo was one of the star signings of Casado’s team and whom Casado himself ended up ousting. She maintains her seat, but since her dismissal as parliamentary spokesperson in the summer of 2020, she has followed the debates from the fourth row of the PP bench.

The event was not only attended by politicians. Businessmen such as Antonio Brufau, president of the Repsol oil company; Rosauro Varo, Vice President of Prisa; or Manuel Pizarro, former president of Endesa and former deputy of the PP. Ignacio Astarloa, president of the Advisory Council of the Community of Madrid, or the former Madrid councilor Lucía Figar also attended.

The party lasted until well after midnight. The assistants tasted a copious appetizer, a cream and hake, as confirmed by several of them at the exit. For dessert, a great cake. And, later, some “emotional” speeches that no one wanted to release at the exit.

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Written by Editor TLN

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