What balance do you make of these two months – you were elected on March 9 – as insular coordinator of the Popular Party?
It can be summed up in one word: exhilarating. I received a very good reception. A reason for satisfaction and extra motivation. After a fallow time that the party would reach out to me for a responsibility like this was already motivating, but it is even more so to see that affection, the gasoline to face the challenges of the position and more than a year before the elections, when it is time to work hard and make decisions.
What sensations do you have of what you feel during your visits?
Illusion is the word according to what I have perceived in militancy. It has to do with a process of internal renovation, complicated but ambitious. Alberto Núñez Feijoó has been a shock to our bases. In just one month he has turned the mood and perception of the party for society. Regarding the social fabric, professionals and companies, there is another common element: concern. The situation has complicated everything more, but to this is added the feeling of lack of security and criteria, as well as chaos in public management. We understand it and we want to solve it or at least contribute to mitigate it with a different way of doing politics.
Will it be the PP candidate for the Cabildo 2023? Do you want to be?
(Laughs). I was the last candidate for the Cabildo in 2019. I could not have continuity and it would be a very pleasant responsibility to perform functions there again. But I owe it to my training, which has its procedures and times to follow. Out of respect for that and the large number of colleagues who could do this task very well, we have to wait until later.
Are you open to the possibility of agreeing with other formations?
I have governed with pacts and I have reached agreements for it. I conceive political life more as a stage to project understanding than discrepancy. My intention is that the PP win in all possible places and the illusion is to do it in the Cabildo as well. If this is not the case, we are open to agreements with any formation that has a substantial programmatic coincidence.
Even with VOX?
The Popular Party with VOX has in common that a good part of its voters were from the PP. For a long time they were comfortable with the acronym, on the trip to the center, with loose government majorities and the prospect of reaching the more moderate center from the liberal right. That philosophy greatly improved the quality of life for Spaniards through reformist and broad-spectrum policies. I would like part of that electorate to remember that for a long time this policy was carried out away from extremes and without the need to constantly strain public life. We can meet in that area. I will not put red lines nor do I like cordons sanitaires. Centrality and responsibility.
Is there sincerity in the hand extended to the PSOE to govern in the Cabildo the remainder of the mandate with the great projects for the Island as a base?
Sincerity is complete. This is a consistent but not new proposal. We have reiterated it in the Debate on the State of the Island, but the President [Pedro Martín] You can remember our attitude from the first moment of the mandate. Our position was and is to be at the side of the people of Tenerife and of the great decisions of Tenerife. It is not a floral game nor have we taken it out of the hat to create a current of opinion. We are convinced that it is necessary to have a high-level, sensible and responsible policy, to carry out the great challenges. But we are assailed by the doubt of whether it will be assumed by the government group. After days without a response, it is confirmed that the president of the Cabildo is still more comfortable with the support of Podemos. It is his responsibility, but on certain key issues for the future of the Island, his capacity for conviction with one of his partners has failed miserably.
What do you think of the pact that governs the Cabildo?
It was a heterogeneous mixture and it seemed unlikely that it would bear positive fruit. The politics of Cs and the external support of Podemos formed a complicated balance game and it has been confirmed. In key issues such as the Tren del Sur, the Port of Fonsalía or the Motor Circuit, the president does not have his external partner. Either they decline or they give up on obtaining financing
How do you rate the management during this mandate?
The PSOE had two great challenges to overcome: turning island politics at the center of its electoral discourse and correcting itself for its participation in those failures that it announced as a government partner of CC, something that is avoided. The balance is the failure in this double objective. Given the lack of security, firmness and criteria, they have opted for the policy of scorched earth and making the people of Tenerife hostage of their political needs. A flight towards the last day of the mandate and not a race towards the great challenges.
Do you think the institution needs to be turned around?
We are moved by high-mindedness and responsible politics. Be helpful in overcoming difficulties from the opposition. We are not going to sit idly by watching the government wear down; We will provide solutions. A balanced Island with infrastructures but compatible with respect for the environment. Strengthen the tourism industry but also solve historical problems such as discharges into the sea or wastewater. But it is that the insular PSOE does not even agree with its own party at the regional or state level. That is why anxiety is normal.
Transport, mobility, roads… Much to do.
It is among the three most important issues for the Island. Mobility is not easy to solve, but toasts to the sun and siren songs annoy even more those who suffer from daily queues. A mobility plan is key to prioritizing investments. But it is not enough just to act on the offer, but also to go to the demand. Increasing kilometers of highways takes years but making collective transport free for sectors of the population such as the elderly, university students or patients of the two large hospitals is an immediate measure for which the Cabildo has the capacity. Many cars would be taken off the road. It entails expenses but only with the unexecuted budget can this measure be faced combined with others, reasonable, balanced and viable. The government has not heard it that way.
What is your proposal in social policies?
We are in favor of structuring social policy around employment. It is the tool for life projects and allows for greater capacity to generate economy. It is necessary to help facilitate it and the Cabildo has resources. The industry must be promoted because it offers quality work. We have an untapped tax differential that could help create employment niches. But then you have to modulate the inequalities. There are many neighbors in difficulties and with problems that have led them to extreme situations. We must give another opportunity to its integration and for that, the Cabildo’s own resources are necessary in the North and the South. Likewise, a better insertion of young people in the labor market to bring the FP curricula closer to what our companies need. Match supply and demand.
Then there is dependent care…
Our elders have not been well treated either and it has been seen in the pandemic. The key is to recover part of common sense, forget the tension and build infrastructure: well-distributed places and quality resources to give it in the last stage of life to those who have left their skin. Closely related is the dependency on unattended lists. The Cabildo must provide more opportunities to those who need such care and to those who can provide it. Another untapped employability niche. A criterion is needed that guarantees the service without extra cost and is enough with the citizen’s taxes.
Tourism. What do you propose?
An immediate and strong support plan to maintain international leadership. Press to have an investment program with tourism recovery funds. The accommodation plan is very good, the services are competitive, the public space is satisfactory and the climate is unbeatable. And then there is security. They are elements to maintain an international reference destination. But lack of support from the administration. The Cabildo has been a promoter of tourism investment and cannot give up that role.
And for the primary sector?
The energy and international crises have affected it. It guarantees employment, landscape, economy and consumption of the local product. We cannot ignore it in any way.
North and South Hospitals. They reached an agreement in the debate on the Island to urge the full endowment.
It is a disappointment for the people of Tenerife when they promised us to give better service and decongest the two of reference. There have been pompous inaugurations but a minimum portfolio has not been completed to give at least a slight appearance of a hospital. We ask the president of the Cabildo for more actions and fewer announcements.
What do you think of guided transport and the southern train?
We are firm defenders of the island’s key infrastructures: the North and South trains, the Port of Fonsalía or a mobility plan. They would play a fundamental role with the nodes that will allow the generation of economy. The south train, and the north train when it arrives, are essential. The government hesitates again before the opposition of Podemos. Leave the project on the table, but sign an agreement for state funds. First as a railway agreement and then the word disappears. Let them say once and for all whether or not they believe in guided mobility.
What do you think of the more than seventy companies of the Cabildo?
Our position is to progressively reduce the public sector and some steps have been taken in this direction, but it is not enough. It is not just a matter of their extinction, but of absorbing, regrouping, merging… Rationalizing those resources better. We have seen some cases of public programs such as Ansina that were suppressed without replacement. The scorched earth policy fosters those imbalances that the citizens then pay for.
Did you think about going back to politics?
During these almost two years I thought that my time in politics had passed. Two factors convince me: the support of Manuel Domínguez and Emilio Navarro and the surreal situation of having the national leadership confront an asset, such as the president of the Community of Madrid, based on unedifying tactics. I felt it was time to help.
Alberto Núñez Feijoó is the new leader of the PP. How does he see it?
He should have been the leader already in the Extraordinary Congress after the departure of Mariano Rajoy. So he decided not to show up. But now, at perhaps the most serious moment of the PP, he takes on even more value as his figure. Due to the solvency of uniting the party and its dimension as public office, it is the best antidote to the polarization and radicalism that has turned Spanish politics into a battlefield incapable of providing solutions to problems. Due to his experience, responsibility and spirit, he is getting bigger right now.