PP moderates face jeers while hardliners enjoy cheers

19th May 2008, Comments 0 comments

A Madrid public tribute to 12 Civil Guards murdered by ETA in 1986 on Saturday turned into a face-off between the two PP factions.

19 May 2008

MADRID - The internal division in the conservative Popular Party (PP), apparent since it lost the general elections in March for the second time running, has trickled down from party headquarters and onto the street.

On Saturday, a Madrid public tribute to 12 Civil Guards murdered by ETA in 1986 turned into a face-off between the two PP factions.

While the moderate wing, represented by Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón and party leader Mariano Rajoy, was booed by participants at the event, the hardliners, led by Madrid premier Esperanza Aguirre, were cheered.

"Out with Rajoy! Esperanza for president!" cried dozens of people, in reference to the upcoming PP convention in which a party president will be elected. Although Aguirre has not officially announced that she will run, her most recent public speeches seem to suggest she could be pondering the move.

But even without an alternative candidate, conservatives are turning up the heat on Rajoy, demanding that he keep up the hawkish positions of the last four years or face constant internal strife.

Ever since he lost the general elections - the second time in a row for him as the PP candidate - Rajoy has faced increasing pressure from hardliners who believe the party is losing its values.

Soon after the defeat at the polls, two party heavyweights, Eduardo Zaplana and Ángel Acebes, resigned in a sign of discontent at Rajoy's positions. And last week, the  PP's leader in the Basque Country, María San Gil, openly challenged Rajoy's skills as a leader.

"I have a problem: I don't trust you enough. You lack leadership," said San Gil, whose open defiance has sparked further talk of a challenge to Rajoy's leadership.

[El Pais / C. E. C. / V. G. C. / Expatica]

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