He could easily have become prime minister next year. Instead, Pablo Casado, 41, said goodbye to Spain’s Congress on Wednesday as the leader of the Popular Party, to applause from the same party members who had lost confidence in him. Spain’s largest right-wing party was beheaded; It’s the temporary peak in the face mask riots that has been sweeping the country for a week.
It didn’t look like Casado’s head was about to be chopped off at the beginning of that week. But Isabel Ayuso (43), Regional President of Madrid. It was revealed, Thursday, that Ayuso’s brother was making money selling face masks to Madrid at the beginning of the Corona crisis, when the whole world was desperately searching for protective equipment. According to Casado, the amount was 286,000 euros. Ayuso admitted the district’s business ties to her brother, but kept it to himself at €56 thousand. The Madrid president, who is very popular in his city, also denied having any role in the deal.
The medical Ayuso immediately turned things around: it was precisely the party leaders who acted shamefully by calling the investigator who had to investigate her brother’s financial practices. An investigator was ultimately not hired, but Ayuso wanted to see political consequences. Important right-wing newspapers such as ABC And the El Mundo Fully rallied behind the Madrid vote, as did the 3,000 people who gathered at the PP office on Sunday to demand Casado’s departure. In the face-mask scandal, they essentially saw Casado’s compromise with a party member who could have challenged him for leadership.
Casado initially refused to budge, but saw his inner support evaporate by the minute. The attempt at reconciliation was not taken seriously by Ayuso. Coming under heavy pressure from party leaders, Casado threw in the towel on Wednesday, although he may officially remain party leader for a while. Ayuso is still standing, but it’s certainly not safe: the prosecutor has opened an investigation into her brother’s finances.
Who should replace Casado? Party chiefs almost unanimously refer to Alberto Nunez Viejo (60), the current mayor of Galicia, a region in the far northwest of the country. Figo, who represents the moderate wing within the conservative right-wing People’s Party, was also mentioned in 2018, but has since scaled back from the leadership election. Four years later, he has the power to grab.
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