PP officials play down dissent in party
Following the departure of another important politician, party leaders are attempting to paper over cracks that are appearing in the Popular Party.14 May 2008
MADRID - Popular Party officials on Tuesday attempted to paper over cracks following the unexpected departure on Sunday of the party's leader in the Basque Country, María San Gil, from a committee set up to define the conservatives' policies for the next four years.
Speaking in a press conference, José Manuel Soria, the chairman of the three-member policy committee and the PP's leader in the Canary Islands, appeared perplexed over San Gil's claim that she had abandoned the committee due to "fundamental differences" with Soria and the other member, Senator Alicia Sánchez Camacho.
"There was not a single discrepancy between the three of us," Soria said.
Their comments further deepened the mystery surrounding the latest high-profile rift within the PP that on Monday gave rise to calls for "reflection" from key party figures known to be at odds with the leadership of party President Mariano Rajoy.
"The party is divided," one senior PP congressman acknowledged on Tuesday.
Jaime Mayor Oreja, a Basque former PP interior minister, suggested that it is split between those members wanting change, led by Rajoy, and those who resist it. "I favour resistance," he said.
It was thought San Gil was most perturbed by efforts to soften the PP's tone toward Basque and Catalan nationalist parties, although the policy document made public on Tuesday by Soria and Camacho suggested the PP is maintaining its hard-line stance.
The text also accuses the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which governs the northern region, of not contributing to efforts to defeat terrorist group ETA.
[El Pais / Carlos Elordi Cúe / Ángeles Espinosa / Expatica]