Costa may challenge Rajoy, run for PP leadership
The former science minister says if required to, he will take a step forward and do so with high hopes and a strong sense of responsibility.3 June 2008
MADRID - Former Popular Party (PP) minister Juan Costa on Monday suggested he may yet mount a challenge against Mariano Rajoy for party leadership at the national party convention in Valencia later this month.
Following a four-hour meeting of party leaders at Madrid headquarters, Costa told reporters that if he "had to take a step forward" he would do so "with high hopes and a strong sense of responsibility".
The former science minister's words further fuelled speculation about a possible rival to the beleaguered Rajoy, who is facing growing internal dissent following a second consecutive defeat to the Socialists in the March general elections.
While many regional party barons have made a public show of support for Rajoy in recent weeks, a new faction led by Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre is criticising the leader for going soft on PP values, especially with respect to regional nationalism and anti-terrorist policy.
"There is a crisis of hope at the grassroots level," said Costa.
Another high-ranking party member, Ignacio González, also meted out strong criticism at the meeting.
"We must not slip into short-term, hung-up opportunism or think that we have to act like our adversaries, be their ideological shadow or turn into phoney lefties," he said. "This only leads to a lack of direction and identity."
Despite the growing rift in a party that had shown no cracks for years, some PP leaders sought to downplay differences. "Everyone will be united on 23 June," said Ramón Luis Valcárcel, president of the committee that is organising the national convention.
[El Pais / Carlos E. Cue / Expatica]