The third day of the traveling national convention of the PP was held this Wednesday in Madrid with a controversial star guest, the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy. Always controversial for his resounding positions, which do not usually leave anyone indifferent, but this time also for the corruption conviction he received this year for irregularities in one of his campaigns – something that could be repeated this Thursday, when a court in France he must rule on another of his open cases – and of which he declares himself totally innocent, having already appealed the sentence against him.
PP sources insist that he was invited before that sentence was made public in March, but what was clear at the convention is that his presence was a personal endeavor of Pablo Casado, for which the French leader has been for many years, when he started in politics, a figure to be inspired by. Sarkozy asked Casado and all the leaders of the PP who listened to him not to be “timorous” or immobile or conservative, despite being “on the right and not on the left” to “broaden” their base.
Sarkozy himself revealed the first time they met during the discussion between the two in the auditorium of the Reina Sofia Museum, which was followed by a private visit to Picasso’s Guernica, the main work in the Pinacoteca, and a hand-in-hand lunch. “When we met nine years ago, I told him: ‘You are going to be Prime Minister’, although you didn’t have to be very intelligent to figure it out,” the guest complimented his host, who gave him words of welcome in French.
Sarkozy was referring to a meeting in 2012, the last year of his presidency, as he was defeated by the socialist Francois Hollande in the presidential elections of that year. Then the young Casado, thirty-one years old and already a national deputy for Palencia, his native land, had the opportunity to meet one of the main European conservative leaders, whom he went to see in Paris as head of the Atlantic Basin Initiative of the transatlantic relations center of the John Kopkins University.
The current president of the PP had already been impressed six years earlier with the speech that Sarkozy, then in his capacity as Minister of the Interior of France and leader of the Union for a Popular Movement (UPM), the acronym of the French right, gave in 2006 in another PP convention that led Mariano Rajoy and that, as now, he was facing opposition to a PSOE government. The one who a year later would become President of the Republic of the neighboring country harangued his Spanish co-religionists in a similar way to what he did now, already retired from political life, fifteen years later.
Casado recalled him in the joint colloquium on Wednesday: “Then, like today, there was no simultaneous translation, but it was not necessary because of his energy and his ability to communicate,” he said with a laugh. “Our common work of the UMP and the PP is to make the EU close, accessible and understandable again,” Sarkozy said on that occasion, long before the financial and political turmoil that the community club has faced in the last decade.
And now, before a rejuvenated PP in his direction, he asked for a “strong Europe” as the only way to be “respected” before the US. All after criticizing Joe Biden for its recent military agreement with the United Kingdom and Australia, which has caused considerable anger in France, the main one harmed by it. “Our American friends only respect the strong, I am a friend of the United States, but a friend standing up, not lying down,” Sarkozy pointed out in this regard, before Casado listens attentively.
“I remember that campaign”
The leader of the Spanish opposition, who defined his guest as the first leader “who took seriously anti-terrorist collaboration“To defeat ETA, he praised the former French president in other respects.
For example in the economic sector since, he said, “it is no coincidence that during the term of President Sarkozy the French had more industry, more jobs … I remember that campaign [afirmaba girándose hacia él y pronunciando en francés el lema electoral de la UMP en 2007] ‘work harder to earn more’, the individual effort, the fact that things are not given to you, telling the person that he can progress by himself, and that there is the Republic, or the Kingdom of Spain, in our case, for those who need it, for whom stumbles, for those who need help, but that society undertakes “said Casado.
Likewise, he praised him stating that “in your time” France “decided to join the US, in an axis of greater prosperity and therefore of global geostrategic strength” and against, argued the popular leader, the traditional position of the Gallic governments , both left and right.
Sarkozy ended up throwing “cheers” to Spain and the PP and its leader. Married, already out of the speech, but an indiscreet microphone picked him up, thanked him for his words and said: “You were magnificent.” They would still have more time during the joint meal to exchange impressions. It was clear to everyone in the PP that Sarkozy and his era in the Elysee is one of the fundamental references of their leader.
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