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Spain’s conservatives put belief in Feijóo, the boring man who wins each election by a landslide

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BARCELONA, Spain — BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the conservative politician who polls counsel is poised to change into Spain’s subsequent prime minister, likes to recall that at coronary heart, he’s only a mild-mannered “village boy” from the nation’s rural northwest. A humble, forthright, even boring man, as he likes to explain himself.

The conservative Well-liked Occasion candidate for Sunday’s common election is usually unknown outdoors Spain, however he has been the nation’s most stable regional chief to date this century and has by no means misplaced an election. Feijóo was a political steamroller in the course of the 13 years wherein he ruled Spain’s northwestern Galicia area, the homeland of Twentieth-century dictator Francisco Franco and of former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who ran Spain from 2011-2018 as PP’s chief.

Feijóo took energy as Galicia’s regional president in 2009 and gathered 4 absolute majorities till 2022, when he resigned to go for Madrid with the mission to save lots of his social gathering from the largest management disaster in its historical past.

Feijóo has solid his public picture as a no-nonsense supervisor. In his view, he’s the antithesis of Spain’s present Socialist prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, whom Feijóo accuses of claiming or doing something to cling to workplace.

“Feijóo is a seasoned politician, supervisor, who doesn’t draw consideration to himself both for good or for unhealthy, and that may even be Positive,” mentioned Miguel Anxo Bastos, professor of political science at College of Santiago de Compostela (USC). “He doesn’t have a really marked ideological agenda, however he’s extra progressive than his social gathering. He’s a form of conservative social democrat who defends the position of the state. He doesn’t need to revolutionize something — simply make providers work.”

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However his critics say that underneath his innocent veneer lies a ruthless campaigner, who come election time can sling mud like the most effective of them. Feijóo’s solely motto since he was appointed as Spain’s conservative chief is “abolish Sanchismo,” a method of referring to Sánchez’s method of governing.

“By abolishing he means ending the fashion, not the substance (of Sanchez’s authorities). We should not anticipate a big turnaround if Feijóo turns into prime minister. At most, he’ll deliver a step again to a few of Sanchez’s extra controversial legal guidelines, such because the legislation of historic reminiscence or transgender rights legislation totally free gender willpower,” mentioned Xosé Luis Barreiro, a outstanding Galician ex-politician and political scientist, creator of a compendium of deeds and ideas of the Well-liked Occasion candidate.

Barreiro says that Feijóo’s nice advantage is his mastery of timing. After a profitable profession as a high-level civil servant in Galicia and Madrid, which included a stint as head of Spain’s postal service, he joined PP at age 41, and now he’s operating in a common election for the primary time at 61. If he succeeds, he would be the oldest Spanish president to carry workplace for the primary time.

Even in his personal life, Feijóo is a person who bides his time. He met his present accomplice, Eva Cárdenas, former govt at Inditex’s Zara Dwelling, in 2009, however they did not begin a relationship till 4 years later. In 2017, when Feijóo was 55, the couple’s first little one, Alberto Jr. was born. It was a pleasure for the candidate’s mom, Sira Feijóo, who in a 2009 election video lamented that her son “says he has married Galicia, however Galicia doesn’t give me grandchildren.” A fairly monastic assertion that completely sums up Feijóo’s spirit. In the identical video, Micaela, his sister, used the phrases “distant” and “bookwormish” to explain the picture that, she mentioned, the conservative candidate transmits.

Feijóo has an disagreeable dilemma forward of him if he wins the election — to kind a coalition with far-right social gathering Vox if he would not receive an absolute majority, one thing that the polls virtually rule out. It could be the primary time that the far proper will get into Spain’s authorities for the reason that finish of Franco’s dictatorship. Feijóo has already admitted subtly that if he wants it, he’ll do it, as he blessed the entry of Vox into a number of regional governments after the municipal and regional elections final Might.

Vox has campaigned arduous on axing gender violence legal guidelines and rolling again regional authorities powers, positions that might deliver it in battle with Feijóó, particularly given his background as a speaker of Galicia’s native dialect and Spain’s decentralized state. In contrast with Vox’s candidate, Santiago Abascal, and even the Well-liked Occasion’s youthful era, Feijóo is a throwback conservative, extra excited by balancing budgets than tradition wars with Spain’s Left.

“Vox may get him into bother, as a result of he isn’t snug within the tradition conflict and has no expertise in coalition governments,” Bastos mentioned.

“He’s not geared toward repealing the pillars of the present authorities — it’s not his fashion. Feijóo just isn’t on the lookout for bother,” Bastos added. “He guidelines with out stridency or main authorities crises. Logic says that not a lot will change if he turns into prime minister, though it will depend on how a lot stress he’s underneath from Vox.”

Feijóo is haunted by his relationship with Marcial Dorado again within the Nineties. Dorado was a businessman, who whereas offering providers to Galician administration when Feijóo was No. 2 in its well being division, was additionally operating a infamous cigarette smuggling ring.

Feijóo and Dorado saved an in depth friendship for nearly a decade. They shared summer season getaways and Christmas holidays. In 2013, a number of images of their journeys and boat rides in Galicia from 1995 got here to gentle. One {photograph} particularly, exhibiting Feijóo in a swimsuit and sun shades posing on board a yacht with Dorado, has pursued him ever since. Dorado is at present serving 10 years in jail for drug trafficking and cash laundering.

Feijóo mentioned that when he knew about Dorado’s unlawful enterprise, he reduce ties instantly. The Socialists try to air the hard-to-explain friendship within the last stretch of the marketing campaign.

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