shoemaker vs. Aznar: duel of presidents 20 years later

shoemaker vs.  Aznar: duel of presidents 20 years later

“I ask the citizens to vote against deceit and effrontery.” The phrase, about José María Aznar, could have been pronounced by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on the eve of the 2004 general elections. But he said it this week, during an act of the Socialist Party in Valencia in view of the 28M campaign in which both former presidents have turned.

The clash between Zapatero and Aznar took place on account of some statements by the latter in which, following his party’s electoral strategy of once again resorting to terrorism as a matter of political confrontation, he assured that if the PSOE wins again the elections will be will produce “a general release of prisoners” of ETA.

“It’s a new big lie,” replied the former socialist president, who alluded to the 11M attack to denounce the deceptions of the PP. “ETA disappeared, that attack was not by ETA as they told us. In these elections, you vote between the truth and the defense of the end of violence as a collective success or deceit and impudence, ”he stressed.

The use of political references such as former presidents is a common trend among the big parties, although the involvement of each of them usually varies depending, mainly, on the degree of affinity with the political line of the current leadership. For years, under the mandate of Mariano Rajoy, José María Aznar played a testimonial role in the campaigns and was often critical of his own party. Something that changed with the arrival to the Genoa presidency of Pablo Casado, whom Aznar sponsored, and who now remains in the stage of Alberto Núñez Feijóo.

In the case of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero the situation is different. Despite not having been one of Pedro Sánchez’s supporters in the dispute for the party’s general secretary, the former president has always shown his support and loyalty to both Sánchez and the coalition government as a whole, a formula that even he himself defended before coming to fruition.

In Ferraz they value the fact that Zapatero is “a great asset of the PSOE” and that, in addition, “he does not stop demonstrating his commitment.” “From the party they ask him for availability and he always offers it all”, they point in the socialist direction, where they admit that the pull that the former president continues to have among the militancy is high and that, therefore, it continues to be one today. of the main socialist values ​​in the campaigns.

“You are an example for everyone and you are a source of pride for the PSOE. You have always been building coexistence and contributing harmony. I want to thank you for achieving peace and ending violence. You made a better country,” Pedro Sánchez told him in person. Zapatero during the campaign closing rally this Friday in Barcelona.

With a direct line with both Ferraz and Moncloa, the former socialist president emphasizes in his party that “always row in favor of work.” Although for this, sometimes, and from the authority that his status as president confers on him, he strays from the official discourse and the strategic lines drawn up by those responsible for the campaigns.

“For me, the decision that distinguishes a president with leadership and vision of the future is the decision that Pedro Sánchez, with courage and great success, took when applying the pardons,” he said during the PSOE municipal convention recently. for more than a month and before hundreds of socialist candidates who did not quite understand that one of the most delicate chapters to manage in the face of the electorate itself was resurrected.

But neither did Zapatero hesitate during the campaign to put himself in the front line of fire against Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s PP. With an intense schedule of rallies throughout the country, the former socialist president lashed out in the first week of the campaign against the opposition leader during a rally in Vitoria. “Some days he looks like Casado, when it is seen that he does not arrive; and others like Rajoy, when he is not understood,” he said to the delight of those present.

The president who led the political management of the end of ETA terrorism has also positioned himself, of course, on one of the issues that have gone through the campaign. The inclusion of candidates on the EH Bildu lists with a terrorist past (seven of them resigned from taking position with blood crimes on their records) became the main asset of the right as an element of wear and tear on the PSOE and Pedro Sánchez. And Zapatero, once again, came to the rescue.

“I am on the side of those who feel a sensitivity or concern because people who did what they did are there, but democracy has the rules it has, we like it sometimes in some circumstances or others,” he said about the Bildu lists before launching an appeal: “We fought together against terrorism, we defeated terrorism together and we should remember that together as a good example of coexistence and peace”. The day that the Basque independence formation confirmed the resignation of seven of its candidates with a past in ETA, Zapatero celebrated it as a “correct decision”. “I hope this will also serve as a lesson so that terrorism and ETA’s past are never used again in the political confrontation between democratic parties,” he added.

Despite the crushing speech of the PP that places the party as the winner of the municipal elections in total vote, in addition to being in a position to achieve several regional governments now in the hands of progressive options, Feijóo has chosen to take the old glories of the Spanish right: José María Aznar and Mariano Rajoy.

The leader of the PP already managed to gather them, in an almost historic photo, for an internal act held last February in Valencia. There, the former presidents met for the first time after many years without practically speaking to each other except at institutional events. Despite the expectations generated around Feijóo after his landing in Madrid, in the PP the resistance is surprising not only from the PSOE and Pedro Sánchez, but also from the political space articulated around Podemos.

With dozens of regional and municipal governments in the air, the PP has mobilized Aznar and Rajoy, although they have not coincided in any act. The most prolific has been Aznar, who has also competed to have the most extreme speech in his party. His work: try to tie the ultra vote that may doubt between the PP and Vox, or some other formation that is very leaning to the right.

The former president of the photo of the Azores has been one of the main electoral assets in Madrid and in Castilla-La Mancha. Aznar has attended both regions to offer a ‘Trumpist’ speech. “Madrid cannot be the capital of waste,” he said at Ayuso’s fiefdom, where he has offered several speeches in this campaign. His objective: to attack a government formed by “Mr. Sánchez’s party” together with “socialist radicalism, communists and supported by separatists and former terrorists.” “There will be a consultation in Catalonia and in the Basque Country,” he said, ignoring that 1-O took place under a PP government.

The Popular Party found in EH Bildu a campaign lever that, after forcing it so much, broke. The same Aznar who in 1998 negotiated with ETA while the terrorists were killing (and who said: “Taking possession of a seat is always preferable to taking up arms”) now attacks pro-independence political options, but which renounce violence. While Feijóo said that there was no room for the banning of Bildu, Aznar said in Bilbao that Pedro Sánchez is going to make “a general release” of ETA prisoners.

Rajoy, much more restrained in his words, does not contradict the toughest line of argument of the PP. In fact, he has been seen with the mayoress of Marbella, Ángeles Muñoz, pointed out for her wealth increase. The former president, who accused Zapatero of “betraying the dead”, has nevertheless said that Podemos’ campaign against Ayuso is the most “brutal and undemocratic” that he has ever seen.

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Written by Editor TLN



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