Pablo Casado unveils a vision for the future of the centre-right for Spain

Spain’s centre-right opposition leader has said he wants to form a “national rescue government” to implement wide-ranging reforms including tax cuts within three months of taking office.

Pablo Casado, whose Popular Party (PP) is highest in the polls, told the Financial Times that if he wins the elections due by the end of 2023, he will recruit outside figures to push for fiscal reforms as well as labor market changes and a simplification of Spain’s system of government. .

In an interview highlighting what he described as the PP’s rebound from near death, he sought to downplay factors such as his past problems with corruption and possible future dependence on the hard-right Vox party.

When we take office, we need a government. . . The 40-year-old said. Referring to the Italian administration formed this year by Mario Draghi, he added: “We need people with a lot of experience, including at the international level and with different political orientations. Not only conservatives, liberals and Christian Democrats but also former Social Democrats . . . a government Like Italy, but democratically selected.”

Although the Spanish parliament has more than two years left in office, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s radical left-wing socialist coalition lacks a majority and has been weakened by the PP’s victory in MadridRegional elections this month. The center-right party has been leading in national opinion polls ever since.

Some polls suggest that the PP and Vox will command a majority in the Spanish parliament after the next election – a major shift after three years in which Casado’s party has consistently lags behind the Socialists.

Casado argues that the post-Covid-19 Spanish landscape will boost its chances: “Crisis strengthen governments, even if they handle things poorly,” he said. “The consequences weaken them, even if they handle things well.”

It’s a dramatic turnaround for a man who planned to leave politics when he was the People’s Party projectile From power in 2018 in the midst of a corruption scandal. Casado said he gave an interview to a multinational in Paris, only to throw his hat in the ring when his party held a leadership election earlier than expected. Even after his unexpected victory over More experienced candidatesThe party’s prospects looked poor.

“I had a dead team,” he said, “it came third in all the polls.” “He was slipping away.”

His priority was initially to prevent the centrist Ciudadanos from bypassing the People’s Party – it achieved it by just 218,000 votes in the April 2019 elections – and then to reunite the country’s fragmented right, he said.

“Even my party said, ‘Casado is obsessed,’ he said, ‘stop trying to unite the center-right and stalking Sanchez.'” But I was clear, with three [parties on the right] It was impossible to win.”

This task has been partially completed, with the collapse of Ciudadanos’ vote in the last election. Casado said he is now focusing on presenting practical proposals to Spanish voters rather than arrangements with other parties.

“We have to get there [in power] and agree to all reforms in three months,” he said, listing plans to cut income and corporate tax, abolish inheritance taxes, reform severance pay to improve labor market flexibility and adjust Spain’s regional governance system.

But opinion polls show that the People’s Party government will need the support of Vox MPs to form an administration.

“I intend to judge on my own,” Casado said. “PP is not part of a bloc with Vox…she can rule if she only has one more seat than Sanchez.”

He did not respond with a yes or no when asked if he Fox It was a democratic party. The far-right group described Sanchez’s government as the worst in 80 years, indicating its preference for the fascist regime of Francisco Franco in 1939-1975.

Casado said the corruption scandals that drove the PPP out of power three years ago were behind it. “If the party makes me a leader,” he said, “it will be cut off from that past.”

But several court cases are still pending, including one investigating whether Popular Party Interior Ministry officials used the police to illegally confiscate evidence of corruption. This year Casado has put the party’s headquarters up for sale amid an ongoing corruption case that has focused on funding its renovation for more than a decade.

Asked if he believed that the former Prime Minister of the People’s Party, Mariano Rajoy, was aware of the existence of “black accounts” run by a former party TreasurerHe said, “In the end, what we decided is not to talk about this issue anymore,” noting that the matter is before the courts.

Meanwhile, the allegations faded into the political background. The People’s Party may also profit from the public backlash against the expected Sanchez government Pardons Imprisoned Catalan separatists.

But Casado faces significant obstacles. Unless Sanchez calls early elections, parliament is unlikely to be dissolved before the end of its mandate in 2023.

Sanchez administration hopes for the emergence of the Corona virus in the European Union recovery box – specifically 70 billion euros in grants to Spain over the next three years – that will help drive economic recovery and boost its fortunes.

She was overshadowed by Casado, said Carmen Calvo, the Socialist Deputy Prime Minister Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the outspoken regional PP leader who won the Madrid elections, and will not be able to repeat her success.

Casado criticizes himself from suggestions that he owes his momentum to the Madrid outcome, which he asserted was “not the cause but the effect” of his party’s improved position.

“There is a clear change in the political cycle in Spain and we are ready for the government,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be in the next 12 months, but I think it will be soon.”

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