This is the last sign of a candidate. We followed Alberto Nunez Figo for MurciaAnd To Santiago Abascal via Valencial Yolanda Diaz for Madrid And now we miss Pedro Sanchez. We spoke to your contact team. The thing is tight. Time is running out, and moreover, the Socialist Party candidate has to balance his election campaign with his obligations as prime minister.
“Now there are only two possibilities for you to accompany him,” explains one of his closest aides. Or on Saturday to Valencia or on Sunday to Barcelona.
“And how do you travel?”
—Saturdays by AVE and Sundays by plane.
-in it Falcon? We ask with a delusion close to disease that our interlocutor starts from the ground.
-impossible. Are the things you love to travel about Falcon… We are on a plane that the party has chartered, and besides, there is no room.
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Here we are, at Madrid’s Atocha station, at nine o’clock on Saturday, July 15, in an empty room of the authorities, waiting for Pedro Sanchez. By then we got a call from an unknown number who turned out to be from the security team at Moncloa Palace to make sure everything was in order.
Departure to Valencia at 09.40. The boss shows up a quarter of an hour early and goes straight to the bathroom while consulting a mobile phone in a red case. It is an image that will be repeated throughout the trip. The person with whom the boss is looking at his phone or talking to his phone while he is walking. It is not known if it was a coincidence that Pedro Sanchez was called upon during those empty flights, but the truth is that his posture – intentionally or unintentionally – gives him a certain distance, a kind of shield, in relation to his surroundings. Second seat belt. Because the first – the real one – was actually created by the team of government presidential escorts, police officers in Americana, hearing aids and lapel pins posted along the Atocha platform through which the president has to pass. The only thing inappropriate in the choreography is a middle-aged man in white sneakers, faded jeans and a green backpack that crept into the middle of the security zone. The typical ignorant vacationer who is later revealed is also a policeman. Pedro Sanchez, surrounded by his attendants and accompanied by only two collaborators, goes to the train. It’s funny, because the whole station is like a trolley of silence. The travelers are watching the chief without uttering one word louder than the other. One of the collaborators on board shouted, “So they say later the president can’t walk among the people.”
AVE is full. At one end of it is a small room, separated from the rest, used as a room for the authorities. It has no extra luxuries or service, just the privilege of privacy. Two rows of seats are aligned with their backs to the windows, so it feels more like a living room than a carriage. Here we have the opportunity to speak with the chief a few minutes after the train starts moving. Pedro Sanchez has a sleepy face. On the armrest on the right is a folder full of papers. and in one on the left, and another with some loose pages.
“Do you work for the road?”
– We must continue to rule despite the fact that we are in a campaign. This tome—thick—is government stuff I must read, and then I’ll mess with the assembly.
– Did you expect this campaign to be so harsh?
The right always polarizes when it is in opposition, and I think the far right has copied its techniques. His strategy is to pose a false dilemma that is actually very dangerous: Sanchezmo or Spain. It’s like saying: all those who don’t vote for the Popular Party are not Spanish.
– And this wears personally?
– I approach it in good sportsmanship, because I know that it is not me who want to cancel this, but the progress we have made, the modern Spain that we have been building. But mind you. I look back and realize I won two primary rounds against all odds, I won a motion of no confidence against all odds, I had to win five elections in 2019 also against all odds… What I want to tell you with this is that I had no easy choices . Expectations do not affect me. Moreover, they reinforce my insistence that this is a guideline for the state to follow. And besides, I love election campaigns.
– Yes, because I am a very competitive person. I demand a lot of myself and in the end I have a good time.
The train arrives in Valencia and the president’s entourage goes to the Palacio de Congresos, where about 2,000 socialist militants have been waiting for him for some time. There is no time to advance. Pedro Sánchez briefly welcomes the party officials and begins the rally. In front of the Socialist candidate, Zimo Puig – goodbye – and Minister Diana Morant take the microphone. Pedro Sanchez comes on strong: “Do you know what will happen on the 23rd? That we will win the election!” The walk ends just in time to rush to the station and catch the 1:45 p.m. train. The president spent two hours and ten minutes in Valencia. The following Tuesday he will spend less time in San Sebastián, arriving late for the Kursaal rally and also haunted by the controversy – fueled by the People’s Party – over not staying in Brussels for the press conference yet. Summit between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). But it’s the same. No one goes to a rally to persuade and no one is convinced. It is more of an act of reaffirmation. Sanchez quickly arrives and leaves. During the campaign – and long before it – the opposition wanted and in many cases succeeded in presenting the image of an unpopular prime minister who travels in a falcon because he cannot walk in the street. Certainly not true. But the guys in the jacket, earphone, and lapel pin aren’t ready to be examined.
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