Opposition leader Mariano Rajoy survived what many consider to be the worst week in the Partido Popular’s history last week as the party’s right wing attacked what they called his “weak leadership”. The trouble started two weeks ago when the PP’s leader in the Basque Country, María San Gil, expressed doubts about “the leadership”, without naming names. Party members immediately began taking sides and San Gil finally announced she intended to resign both the party and politics. San Gil fears that the PP intends to move closer for electoral reasons to the Basque Nationalist Party, which condemns the Basque terrorist ETA for its violent methods but shares it ultimate goal, that of independence for the Basque Country. San Gil has been against such a relationship since an ETA gunman assassinated her PP colleague, Gregorio Ordóñez, as they breakfasted together on January 23rd, 1995. Rajoy’s has also strengthened his relationship with Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon, who believes that if the party moves closer to the centre it will pick up enough votes from disaffected Socialists to win the next election. Last Friday some 300 PP party members gather outside the party’s headquarters in Madrid with placards reading: “Maria Si, Mariano No.” The following morning only five protesters appeared. Meanwhile, Rajoy invited his opponents to put forward an alternative candidate for party leader at the next congress in June. But he warned that he was not about to throw in the towel.


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