Only five members of the PP of Ourense chose last weekend not to support José Manuel Baltar Blanco. The victory of his candidacy for the provincial presidency of the party was thus settled with 99.2% of the 662 votes cast. But the also president of the deputation of Ourense does not seem to care about dissent. That 0.8%, he explained, corresponded to the members of the table, who voted blank to “maintain their independence”. If there was dissatisfaction – in July he announced that there were 934 delegates – it did not manifest itself at last Sunday’s congress. Martin Luther King had a dream, “but the PP of Ourense is about to touch it with his fingers,” Baltar closed his re-election speech.
Baltar territory: motions of censorship with defectors and “signings” of independents lengthen the power of the PP in the province of Ourense
Nobody expected another result. For three congresses Baltar Blanco has had no internal rival. Only in his debut, when in 2010 he ran to take over from his father, José Luis, the Galician leadership – Feijóo – and Spanish – Rajoy – of the PP supported an alternative. It did not prosper, Baltar Blanco inherited and Miguel Jiménez Morán, former mayor of Verín, rests in the Senate. That inaugural victory was the tightest, about 60%. Since then, his percentages are always around 100%.
It is true that the four provincial congresses of the Galician Popular Party have registered levels of adhesion to their presidents similar to those of Ourense. In A Coruña, Diego Calvo gathered 96%; in Pontevedra Alfonso Rueda 98.1%; and in Lugo Elena Candia, 98.2%. But, in addition to a few tenths, there is another substantial difference. While Feijóo and the Galician leadership control the organization in these three provinces, commanded by men and women of confidence, Baltar Blanco goes on his own. And his interests do not always coincide with those of the Galician president, to whom he imposes discourse and position on the hectic political life of Ourense.
The pact with Jácome
During the campaign previous to the last municipal elections, Feijóo asegurated that a local government of Pérez Jácome – the candidate of Democracia Ourensana, a quirky right-wing formation – would be “lethal for the city”. But the numbers did not work. The PSOE was the most voted candidacy, followed by the PP and Jácome, almost tied. Baltar Blanco was about to lose the deputation and only a pact with his old nemesis, Jácome, could solve it. It was done. In exchange, the PP gave him the mayoralty of the city and entered into a coalition government. The pact was so against the wishes of the Galician leadership that the popular candidate, the former councillor Jesús Vázquez, appointed directly by Feijóo and opposed to Baltar, refused to join the cabinet.
The mandate of Jácome, as everything made foresee, is being convulsive. Last year, in fact, it blew up. A part of his formation, Democracia Ourensana, left him, amid serious accusations of corruption. The PP baltarista seconded them. The third city of Galicia by number of inhabitants entered unknown territory: it came to govern an executive of three people, Jácome and two loyal councillors. Baltar refused to seek a solution with the opposition – formed by the PSdeG, in 2019 the most voted list; BNG and Ciudadanos. The municipal paralysis intensified. Feijóo, protected by his media shielding, was not able to move away from the Baltarist maneuver.
But Jácome resisted the onslaught, although in the meantime Baltar secured his majority in the provincial body thanks to a change of jacket of a former Ciudadanos militant. However, just a few months ago Baltar and Jácome reconciled without transcending the reasons and the PP returned to local government. Beyond the citizens who suffered the direct effects of the management of the battle, there was a collateral political victim: Jesús Vázquez. The former conselleiro of Education that Feijóo had sent to Ourense and in 2015 took over the mayor’s office resigned and left insititutional politics. Once again, the president of the Xunta observed the function without intervening. Ourense is a geography prone to the PP, but to a PP that maintains distance with the leadership of Santiago de Compostela. Even more with that of Madrid.
The municipal power of the PP
And that despite the fact that Baltar Blanco inherited from his father is the only one of the four deputations that is not in the hands of PSdeG and BNG. The municipal power of the PP was so holed in 2019 that the aediles in the executive of Jácome are its maximum level in the so-called seven Galician cities. The mayors of the other six are socialists – A Coruña, Lugo, Ferrol, Santiago and Vigo – and nationalist – that of Pontevedra. To help solve this subordinate position, Baltar pledged, in the same intervention in which he compared his party with the dream incThe goal of Martin Luther King, to “aspire to the highest”.
“There are 609 days left and the PP will win in all the municipalities of the province and in the smaller entity of Berán. In addition, we will have the absolute majority in the deputation,” he said. As of today, they govern 59 of the 92 municipalities in the province, the socialists 23 and the BNG, five. There are four small parties and one, that of Viana do Bolo, not attached, but former PSOE militant who acceded to the post after a motion of censure supported by the PP and two socialist defectors.