Left to right and up to bottom: Eduardo Madina (PSOE), Alberto Garzón (IU), Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (PP), Santiago Vila (CiU), Juan Moscoso (PSOE) and Juan Carlos Monedero (PODEMOS).
Cristina de la Hoz. Madrid
Spain witnesses the start of a new historical cycle personalized by the figure of who will be the new King of the country, Philip VI. This is not the only change in a tumultuous period threatening the hegemony of the two-party system and forcing the traditional political powers to make a renovation effort from which the PP can still escape for being the party in the Government. The crown prince will have to “coexist” with a new generation of politicians as well as with uncomfortable debates alluding both to the model of State, which is, the dilemma monarchy-republic, and to the possibility of opening a constitutional reform trying to satisfy the Catalonian and Basque secessionism. No, it was not easy for his father, but things are not looking easy for the new monarch.
Without trying to give the same dimension to all the events mentioned below by chronological order, the truth is that the signs of change are unequivocal: Adolfo Suárez’s death, the step backwards of Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the announcement of the King’s abdication and the threats by Josep Antoni Duran Lleida about starting a solo journey, support the certainty about the change of cycle Spain is undergoing.
The party has already shown its cards to the PSOE. Exposed after the disastrous results in the European elections of 25 May, it faces a deep process of renovation trying to consider the “old guard” –who does not stop manoeuvring– as obsolete, while trying to run away from unsuccessful experiences such as the one represented by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero despite his two electoral triumphs. Except for the appearance of a “protégé”, Prince Philip knows quite well some of the more than possible candidates for the leadership of the PSOE and the candidacy to the next general elections, respectively. That is the case of Eduardo Madina, aged 38 years old, and of Carme Chacón, aged 43. The crown prince has been in contact with different political, social, journalistic and economic representatives of his generation, including the aforementioned.
Another candidate is Pedro Sánchez, aged 42 years old, deputy of the PSOE in Madrid who has been going round the Spanish geography for more than a year in order to meet even the smallest of the party’s local organizations. Sánchez established his own profile when he defended the free vote to face the dynastic succession as well as the removal of royal privileges, especially, inviolability.
The painting is completed by the almighty president of the Junta of Andalusia, Susana Díaz, who will turn 40 next October and stood down to lead the party. All of them, a little younger than the future Monarch, who turned 46 last January, are representatives of the current generation leap and make up the new socialist crop that will “coexist” with Philip VI.
In a second rank, it is worth mentioning other leaders who have not been given the option to offer their own profile yet, although they depend to a large extent of who takes control of the party and of the candidacy to the general elections. This is the case of deputies Meritxel Batet, Juan Moscoso, Germán Rodríguez and Carmen Montón, as well as the current federal secretary of Networks and Innovation, María González Veracruz, among others. It is also worth highlighting the internal role that territorial chiefs can play, such as the Castilian-Manchegan Emiliano García Page, who has been involved in politics for some lustrums despite being only 46, or the president of the Junta of Asturias, Javier Fernández, older than the aforementioned but with great prestige in the socialist ranks.
It is more complicated drawing the map of the renovation in the PP, since everything points out that Mariano Rajoy will aim to confirm the presidency of the Government in the general elections next year. He will be, without a doubt, the oldest candidate of those running, although the PP will have to start setting the basis of its rejuvenation for the following years. In this case, this process seems to have the name of a woman. The almighty vice-president of the Government, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, has just turned 43 years old. She is one of the people involved in the secret of the royal abdication and Rajoy asked her for the design of the legal and parliamentary process of the succession. She did not do it alone. She worked hand in hand with Jaime Pérez Renovales, undersecretary of State of the Presidency, “candidate for minister”, of the same age as Prince Philip, and another name of future to take into account within the political design of the future PP.
But there is another female name in the arena with potential to became the leader of the Spanish PP. She is already president of Castilla-La Mancha and “number two” of the PP. María Dolores de Cospedal has also a political future going beyond Rajoy’s. De Cospedal, who will turn 49 in December, depends on the party’s invigoration plan after the frustrating results of the European elections. It is true that they won, but not least that the blow showed in their faces and Rajoy has placed in their hands the responsibility of tuning the campaign machine with the objective of mobilizing the party, its members and voters that on 25-M stayed home.
Since things seem to go in threes, it is advisable not to lose sight of another woman, the current delegate of Government in Madrid, Cristina Cifuentes, who is about to turn 50 years old. She has declared herself a republican “on principle”, but she likes Prince Philip. She would not aim at the PP’s leadership, but is an emerging element to take into account that is taking on major importance in Madrid. The renovation process towards the new PP would go through other proper names such as José Luis Ayllón, Álvaro and Alberto Nadal, Fátima Báñez, Alfonso Alonso, Iñaki Oyarzábal or Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, all of them generationally speaking very close to Philip VI.
With Podemos’s permission, IU is also snowed under and going towards a process of rejuvenation sped up by the incursion of a left into their left, which is threatening to surpass them. Within the coalition, the idea of organizing primary elections to choose their electoral candidates is making its way and their current leader, Cayo Lara, risks giving in to others with better hook for the electoral basis. This is the case of Alberto Garzón, who is just 28 years old, coming from the same branch as Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos. Maybe his main problem is the lack of an own territorial basis, which causes many eyes from the coalition to turn to the general coordinator of IU in Andalusia, Antonio Maíllo. The maintenance of the agreement with the PSOE of Susana Díaz after the crisis for the Corrala Utopía has been attributed to him.
Eddy Sánchez has also been called to give a new look to the left coalition. He is the coordinator of IU in Madrid, but he has a tough internal competitor in the federation, the autonomous deputy Tania Sánchez Melero, skilled in talk shows and partner of Iglesias. Philip VI knows that he will have in IU a political force in favour of the Republic and of celebrating a referendum to ask about the monarchy after considering that the constitutional agreement has been an unsuccessful experience.
Prince Philip cannot expect an unbreakable adhesion to the Crown of the aforementioned leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias. Having the same first and last name as the PSOE’s founder, a poll of “El Periódico” positioned them last Monday as the third political power with more than 50 members of the parliament with seats. It is difficult to highlight other names in a party that gets so personal and turned Iglesias’s image into its logo. Its spokesperson, Íñigo Errejón, and one of its main ideologists, Juan Carlos Monedero, are both connected to the university world. However, Podemos is in a constituent process and it would be risky to give more names of an experience that, at least for now, looks more like a movement than like an organization.
In the ranks of the Catalonian nationalism, changes are also expected, especially after this announcement with reverse gear that his parliamentary spokesperson, Josep Antoni Duran Lleida, has made through the pages of “El Periódico”. Few are the possibilities of Duran to be the leader of CiU’s list again in general elections, but at least now he has Artur Mas if, as everything points out, he takes his party to an electoral disaster after throwing himself into ERC’s arms. In Unió, there are two of the current advisers from the Catalonian government that could be the replacement in the post Duran time. These are the people in charge of the Interior, Ramón Espadaler, and Agriculture, Josep María Pelegrí, as well as the secretary of Universities, Toni Castellá. They are aged from 51 (Espadaler) to 44 (Castellá) years old.
There is a new batch of pro-independence leaders in CiU who have buried their “parents’ ” tendency towards agreements and, therefore, their commitment to the Crown, which leads to the unbelievable abstention in the voting on the succession of the King Juan Carlos. Oriol Pujol, the “hereu”, has a complex legal horizon, but there are also others, generationally younger, willing to take Catalonia to the secession, especially the organization secretary of CDC, Josep Rull, aged 45 years old. However, if, on the contrary, Convergencia decides to bury the pro-independence whims, the name would be Santiago Vila, adviser on Territorial Politics, considered to be moderate, conciliatory and a bull-fighting fan, aged only 41 years old.
ERC is, for its part, in a sweet moment after years burning leaders at the speed of light. Oriol Junqueras, aged 45 years old, renewed the party completely in 2011 with the only exception of the organization from Barcelona, where he wants to place the deputy Alfred Bosch as candidate. The electoral results support this group, which has overcome CiU in the European elections.
The second secessionist threat for the reign of Philip VI comes from the Basque nationalism, although the lendakari, Íñigo Urkullu, has chosen a level of confrontation much lower than the one of Artur Mas, from whom he has learned the mistake of letting the pro-independence members of ERC beat him. He does not want the same to happen to him with Bildu, which won the European elections in Álava and Guipuzkoa although the PNV did it in the Basque community.
In conclusion, debate republic-monarchy, secessionism and constitutional reform are the three issues waiting for Prince Philip in his office at the Zarzuela, and although the King makes no politics, he might have to do it anyway, just like his father did.