The electoral debate to six that has been celebrated in RTVE in the night of this Monday has turned into a all against the president of the Junta de Andalucía, Juan Manuel Moreno, with the exception of the Ciudadanos candidate and his government partner, Juan Marín. “It is clear that I am the man in fashion tonight,” Moreno said after hearing the reproaches of the rest of the applicants. The PSOE candidate, Juan Espadas, reminded him from the first minute that he was elected president thanks to Vox. Macarena Olona (Vox) accused him of having limited himself to “managing the socialist farmhouse”. Inmaculada Nieto (For Andalusia) made him ugly for having applied “old policies” and not having spent the money transferred by the central government. And Teresa Rodríguez (Adelante Andalucía) defended a change in the production model.
Moreno went to the first of two television debates this campaign not with the intention of winning it, but not losing it. Go unnoticed, do not make any mistake or provocation. If it had been possible, he would have said: “Hello, good night”, as a member of his team acknowledged, and would have spent the rest of the almost two hours of the program contemplating his opponents like one who attends a tennis match. Naturally, that was not possible. But almost.
The popular candidate has not entered any capote and even less that of Olona, who seeks to enter the Board. He has also not wanted to go toe-to-toe with the socialist Espadas, whom he has reminded several times that since 1990 he has held various positions in the Andalusian Government. Moreno has played dead, like the happy bather who extends his arms floating in the water. Around him, everyone has lashed out at him.
In the debate there were hardly any interruptions between the candidates, although the most tense moments were between Olona and Teresa Rodríguez regarding equality policies. To Vox’s proposal to eliminate gender laws and policies, the candidate for Adelante Andalucía blurted out: “Vox is the political arm of terrorism.” There was also an engagement of Alicante politics with Juan Marín when he argued that PP and Cs “have lived very comfortably” on the Board. “You don’t know what it’s like to govern a community of eight and a half million inhabitants with a pandemic,” he replied.
The first face to face with six did not serve for the candidates to reveal their cards on the pacts, the elephant in the room of this electoral campaign. Moreno repeated that his aspiration is to “govern alone.” But he did not clarify, as Espadas urged him, if he would lean on Vox if necessary. The socialist, however, did want to clarify that the socialist deputies would not abstain if their votes are necessary to prevent the entry of the extreme right in the Government. The Cs candidate made it clear that he intends to reissue the coalition with the PP.
All the candidates of the left-wing bloc appealed for mobilization in favor of progressive policies, asking for the useful vote to try to reverse the wind in favor that the polls give Moreno, who once again appealed to the dissatisfied PSOE voter. In this attempt to wear down the moderate image of the candidate for re-election, both the parties of the left and the leader of Vox criticized his management and questioned one of the strong arguments of the coalition executive of the Government of the Board, the reduction of taxes and the benefits it has generated for Andalusia in the form of more taxpayers. Espadas began by defending the transformative legacy of almost 37 years of government in the community and questioned the tax reform, as did Nieto and Rodríguez. In economic matters, the numbers can be interpreted in multiple ways and in the face of that well-being that Moreno and Marín boasted about, the candidates of the left-wing bloc brought up the unemployment figures and inequality, where Andalusia continues to lead.
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The two leftist coalitions came to the debate after the failed veto of Por Andalucía to prevent Rodríguez’s intervention. However, in the face to face there has been no evidence of any friction —except for a reference by the Adelante Andalucía candidate thanking RTVE for allowing her to be there— neither between the two formations nor with the PSOE. Nieto has defended with greater emphasis than Espadas the management of the central government to combat inequality, especially the policies developed by the second vice president, Yolanda Díaz, who was decisive for her appointment as leader of the confluence that she heads.
Olona not only debuted in an electoral debate, but also in a confrontation with the rest of the Andalusian leaders. If there was any doubt as to whether she was going to opt for a moderate profile, the leader of the far-right formation made it clear from the beginning that she was not going to give up the thick line in her interventions. He began by fighting back on account of his controversial registration: “I am Spanish and the same ones who shake hands in Madrid with Catalan racism call me an immigrant from Alicante”, and continued to star in a scuffle with Marín over the budgets where he accused him of having incorporated a game of one billion for false covid funds. She also questioned the economic boom that Moreno boasted about by attending the agriculture and immigration cocktail. “The Andalusian fields are subject to those of Morocco,” she released.
The Vox candidate sought at all times to star in the debate with extemporaneous statements that are a classic in her interventions, ensuring that homosexuals and women are increasingly afraid to go out on the streets of Andalusia. In the block dedicated to education, health, equality, social policy, Olona seemed like an octopus in a garage, compared to the handling of the data of the rest of the participants on how the hospitals, dependencies or schools are located.
Olona limited herself to launching her diatribe against gender policies. “When we enter San Telmo we are going to close all the ideological beach bars that are limited to painting the benches in colors.” The male candidates barely talked back or tried to ignore her—“I don’t want to get into the show you want to do. I want to talk about the real Andalusia”, replied Espadas, while Nieto and Rodríguez defended policies on equality. Nieto, for his part, demanded a “pact against gender violence, except with you, Mrs. Olona.”
Swords made an effort to question the management in matters of health, education and dependency, appealing to the fact that the advances were due to the arrival of funds from the central government. But Moreno knew how to counter that criticism by appealing to the inheritance received and remembering that, in those executives, the socialist leader was a member. “Why didn’t you do it then?” He would reply to each question. Nieto also questioned that good management in public services, recalling the 8,000 doctors whose contract was not renewed in November 2021.
If Moreno’s strategy was to keep a low profile, Marín needed not to appear that he was attending the debate as a stone guest and, in fact, it was he who starred in the most intense exchanges with the candidates from both the left and the extreme. right every time they questioned the social policies of the Board, avoiding that wear and tear on the president.
It was hoped that the debate could relaunch a sluggish campaign, but none of the candidates stood out for their proposals – which have barely been made – or for their reactions. None have stepped out of their roles. Institutional, moderate and even temporizing with criticism, Moreno; challenging within the correction, Swords; faithful to the calm and thoughtful tone to which he is accustomed to the Andalusian Parliament, Nieto; provocative and histrionic, Olona and trying to stand out, Marín, the clearest when it comes to defending his management.
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