Spain’s centre-right leader confident of general election win

Feijóo described himself as “the immediate future of Spain” in the face of “the Eurosceptic opposition” and those in the Spanish coalition government who have doubts about remaining in the NATO alliance. [EPA-EFE/J.J. Guillen]

Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who was elected leader of centre-right Partido Popular (PP) in April, told members at the European People’s Party (EPP) congress in Rotterdam, that his party represents hope for many Spaniards and should win next year’s general election.

Feijóo described himself as “the immediate future of Spain” in the face of “the Eurosceptic opposition” and those in the Spanish coalition government who have doubts about remaining in the NATO alliance.

Feijóo’s comments are a direct criticism of the left-wing Unidas Podemos (United We Can), which opposes any Spanish military engagement in NATO, and said this week that none of its government members will attend the next NATO summit in Madrid from 29-30 June, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.

Unidas Podemos governs jointly with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s socialist party (PSOE), but its unity has been damaged recently by divergences on sensitive issues such as the labour legislation and NATO, EFE reported.

Before the EPP congress in Rotterdam, Feijóo delivered his first speech – in Spanish – to an international audience after being elected the new leader of the PP in April.

Spain, where general elections are scheduled for December 2023, is one of the “battlefields” on which EPP’s new president, Manfred Weber, has his eyes set, sources from the party said.

“The Spanish People’s Party represents hope for many fellow countrymen who do not want a country without direction,” Feijóo told the congress, where he presented himself as “an alternative for Spaniards.”

Feijóo also used the meeting in the Netherlands to hold a dozen bilateral meetings with European leaders of his political family, including the presidents of the European Commission and the European Parliament, and the prime ministers of Greece, Romania and Sweden.

After the meetings, Feijóo assured that many of his party colleagues had conveyed their “concern” for Spain and promised to understand the “misgivings about the opacity and the low execution of European funds (by the government)”, and the government’s divisions on NATO.

“To all of them I have tried to convey tranquility: Spain is much better than its current government, and there is an alternative available to the Spanish people. Spain is much more than your bad government. Spain has almost 48 million Spaniards, Europeans, who deserve the confidence and support of the EU institutions”, he said.

Feijóo also distanced himself from the far-right party VOX by assuring that PP “is not the Eurosceptic opposition”.

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