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Ana Gómez —— Why Alberto Núñez Feijóo is so successful

Galicia celebrated last Sunday the most atypical electoral event in its history. For the first time, Galicians went to vote in the midst of a pandemic and with unprecedented security measures. That is why the participation was one of the lowest in the history of the autonomous community, raising the abstention around 5 points and with an influx of 58.84% of voters. One has to go back to the mid-80s to find a similar mark.

In Galicia it has gained stability and moderation. In the midst of the health crisis the Galicians have not wanted changes. Thus, the electoral day of July 12 is summarized in the continuity of Feijóo at the head of the Xunta, the rise of Galician nationalism and the disappearance in the Galician Parliament of the Mareas, the Galician brand of United We Can. This makes the regional parliament return to the tripartite system that has characterised Galician parliamentary politics for decades, something unusual in current politics.

Neither the coronavirus nor abstention could take away the absolute majority of the Galician People’s Party. Feijóo not only won the elections, but also achieved its best result, obtaining its fourth absolute majority, which could be described as a historic and electoral feat in these times in which citizens are used to multiparty politics with highly fragmented parliaments and governments formed after political pacts, sometimes impossible, between the different formations.

The president of the Galician Popular Party was running in these elections in a scenario of «all against the absolute majority of Feijóo». On the one hand, the six political formations with which he was measured face to face in a debate with seven, which Nuñez Feijóo succeeded in prioritizing the value of his management rather than talk about new proposals for the future. On the other hand, Feijóo’s other great enemy in this campaign was the polls that gave him a clear winner with a comfortable absolute majority; the people knew this and that is why they used the last stage of the campaign to ask the voters not to take anything for granted, not to trust each other and to go out and vote.

The Galician PP and Feijóo designed and carried out their own campaign, an atypical campaign, marked from beginning to end by the coronavirus, in which Feijóo, as in previous occasions, went to all the corners of Galicia and carried out the same rallies and meetings that in the previous appointments gave him the electoral victory. The popular ones realized a campaign in positive, eluding to speak and disqualifying his political adversaries; claiming experience, management and stability . Presenting himself to the voters as a solid politician, who «has never promised impossible things», backed by his achievements and work well done and with a clear project for the future of Galicia, against the «political experiments» and a multigovernment of uncertainty composed after the electoral pacts.

Núñez Feijóo is a self-made politician, with a fast and brilliant career, based on work and effort. He arrived in Galicia with President Fraga in 2003 as Councillor of Territorial Policy, Public Works and Transport and in only one year Fraga appointed him as vice-president. After losing the absolute majority in the 2005 elections, Feijóo was elected president of the Galician People’s Party in an exemplary congress, with which he achieved not only the presidency of the party replacing a figure such as Manuel Fraga, but also, and most importantly, he managed to unite and strengthen a party that was somewhat divided after the loss of the elections and Fraga’s departure for the Senate.

Feijóo achieved this presidency through effort and without any infrastructure. He travelled for months with his own car to each and every one of the towns and corners of Galicia, to meet the mayors, local presidents, affiliates and supporters, who were the driving force behind the PPdeG at that time. Before them, he presented himself as a hard-working Galician, a man of the people and appealed to his humble origins to counter the criticism of his adversaries who accused him of being an opportunist and a newcomer to Galician politics from Madrid. And so, from village to village, he managed to convince everyone of his worth and of his great project for the Galician People’s Party, a project of modernisation, continuing Fraga’s legacy and achieving, with a moderate and Galicianist discourse, the great Galician centre party that he is today. As a good politician, Feijóo knew that without a party there would never be a government.

And the years as leader of the opposition arrived, during this time, the already president of the Popular Party, went again one by one to all the corners of the Galician community, to present himself this time before the citizens. Feijóo not only travelled around Galicia, but he did not forget the Galicians abroad and travelled to all the countries in America and Europe where there is a Galician community. And so it was that, after only four years of great work and brilliant opposition, the current president of the Xunta, achieved his first absolute majority in 2009. Something that a priori seemed very complicated because it was the first time he was running for an election.

Throughout his career as president of the Xunta, he managed to overcome the economic crisis of the first years of government, implementing austerity policies unprecedented until now in politics, and now he has won the elections again by overcoming the worst health crisis in history and with a party at the national level a little worn out.

We are dealing with a talented politician with a great talent for public speaking, a great parliamentarian and speaker as can be seen in his public speeches, but he is also a manager with a great democratic and conciliatory spirit when it comes to carrying out his work as head of the autonomous executive. This also makes him a winner in short distances.  Many people accuse him of being a very individualistic and presidentialist politician, but the truth is that Feijóo is a team man. His closest collaborators have been practically the same since 2009 and in some cases since he arrived in Galicia in 2003. Feijóo has managed to create and maintain a united team around his figure, which can be said to be largely responsible for and responsible for his electoral successes.

After eleven years as president of the Xunta, this Sunday came his fourth absolute majority, a triumph that magnifies the Galician leader. And so, on election night, we could see a jubilant Feijoo, greeting his collaborators, proxies and militants and celebrating his victory, to the rhythm of the disco song «One more time» by Daft Punk and not the official anthem of the Popular Party. Last Sunday, Feijóo addressed the voters thanking Galicia: «without Galicia I would be nothing in politics and the Galicians when it comes to Galicia are always there» and promising that he will govern for everyone until the end of the legislature. Leaving, in this way, the door closed to assume a possible leadership of the PP at national level.

And if the Popular Party was the great electoral winner in Galicia, the other great winner of the night and that deserves a special mention is the rise of the Galician nationalist left.

The Bloque Nacionalista Gallego, achieved in these elections the best result in its history. The nationalist group, led by Ana Pontón, has become the second party in Galicia, placing itself above the socialists, with a spectacular rise from 6 to 19 MPs.

Ana Pontón, who aspired to be the first president of the Xunta de Galicia, carried out a great campaign of proximity focused more on exposing her social policies than on her nationalist ideals, and it bore fruit.

This text may be reproduced provided that PROA is mentioned as its original source


 

Ana Gómez
PROA Director in Galicia

 

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