Von der Leyen backs Feijóo after approving amnesty law

by Lorraine Williamson
Von der Leyen

inEuropean Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday expressed her support for the leader of the right-wing Popular Party (PP), Alberto Núñez Feijóo. She warned that there is “concern” in Europe about “the rule of law” in Spain.

It was her diplomatic response to Feijóo’ s words. The latter denounced that the amnesty law approved on Thursday breaks “the equality of all Spaniards”. And that it is “the greatest aggression that the Spanish rule of law has suffered in 46 years of democracy”.

But von der Leyen’s visit to Galicia is also a tactical move to secure her re-election as president of the European Commission. To halt the ambitions of Emmanuel Macron and Giorgia Meloni to put Mario Draghi in that post.

The European elections next Sunday could cause an earthquake in Brussels due to mergers of parliamentary groups. And Ursula von der Leyen herself has indicated that she is willing for the European People’s Party (EPP) to conclude agreements with Meloni’s party, because it takes a less radical position and is closer to the EU’s interests than the rest of the far-right groups.

Predictions for the results of the European elections in Spain

According to the latest opinion poll conducted by SocioMétrica for EL ESPAÑOL, Feijóo’s PP has 24 seats (against 20 for the PSOE) for the July 9 elections. This would make Spain the second country, after Germany, to contribute the most MEPs to the EPP.

This was not the case in the previous European elections in 2019. The PP, at its weakest moment under the leadership of Pablo Casado, got only 13 MEPs. This put the PPP behind its partners in Germany (29), Poland (17) and Romania (14). It corresponds to the EPP’s Hungarian partners, who will have 13.

During several campaign events, Feijóo has stressed the importance of Spain having an important weight in the majority party in the European Parliament, which will determine the Union’s policy for the next five years.

PP decisive vote in Von der Leyen’s re-election

Therefore, if the projections are confirmed, Feijóo’s PP will be decisive in supporting von der Leyen’s re-election as President of the European Commission. The PP has pinned its hopes on this body (and in particular on the Commissioner for Justice) to put a stop to the amnesty law, which has not yet entered into force because it has not been published in the Official Gazette BOE.

Some PP leaders made no secret of the fact that they were uncomfortable with the torrent of praise Ursula von der Leyen showered on President Pedro Sánchez at every event the two leaders shared. That is why von der Leyen’s visit to Galicia this Saturday, full of gestures of complicity with Feijóo, has great symbolic significance for the PP leaders. The most politically charged event was the presence of the President of the European Commission at the traditional pilgrimage of O Pino (La Coruña). There, Feijóo denounced to von der Leyen that the amnesty law is “a major electoral fraud” and “the biggest aggression that our rule of law has suffered in 46 years of democracy.” He also thanked her for coming.

Rule of law concerns following amnesty law passage

In her response, Ursula von der Leyen stressed that what defines Europe’s “common identity” is the defence of values such as “fundamental rights, equality, freedom, democracy and the rule of law”.

“I know that there are concerns about the rule of law in Europe,” she acknowledged, referring to Feijóo’s comments. “The Commission,” she added by way of warning, “will always act to protect its citizens when these values are at risk (…) Spain and all EU countries must trust us”.

Reference to Camino de Santiago

In front of the president of the Xunta, Alfonso Rueda, von der Leyen appealed to the symbolic value of the Camino de Santiago, as the cradle of the European project: “For centuries, Santiago was the route of millions of pilgrims and Europeans, a path for all those who sought hope in their lives,” she said.

“Today, Europe faces a similar journey, the journey of peace, of hope, based on our common values,” she said in his speech. “Completing this path requires courage, faith, and resilience, companions who guide us on this path. These values are being questioned, Ukraine is fighting for freedom and peace, and that is why we support Ukraine, which is fighting for our security”.

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