For days they have been repeating in Brussels that the next Presidency of the Eurogroup , like that of so many elections, depends on the undecided, on those who have not yet made official whether they prefer the Spanish Nadia Calviño, the Irish Paschal Donohoe or the Luxembourgian Pierre Gramegna . But surely it is more accurate to say that luck is in the hands of the non-aligned, because the ongoing battle is full of blocks and groups of interest due to political, ideological, economic criteria of size, latitude or longitude and of variable geometries. The most general impression comes to say that if an axis of countries is imposed, Calviño could and should win, but if what wins is a purely party scale, a logic of political families, then the Irish have a good chance of winning the prize.
To date, leaving aside the stakeholders themselves, only Germany has positioned itself out loud . None other than Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that the Spanish is her choice and that it is time for a woman to take the position. In 2015, Merkel and her minister Wolfgang Schäuble also supported Luis de Guindos, paying old debts and promises. But on that occasion, when the Spanish challenged Jeroen Dijsselbloem with a more than questionable timing , the German support was not total. Berlin voted for De Guindos, but not that he did not campaign for him, but that the message to allies and satellites was not to follow in his footsteps. This time it is not, the other way around.
Without leading any campaign, Germany has moved the chips and asks for the vote because it believes that Calviño is the right person for this European moment . Last week in Meseberg, the chancellor and Emmanuel Macron addressed the situation. The Frenchman is not so enthusiastic, he always keeps letters and receives favors , but French sources indicate that the subject was on the table and the position is synchronized.
The president, Pedro Sánchez, assured yesterday from Lisbon that he is "reasonably optimistic" about the options of his vice president , almost the same words that are repeated in Berlin, reports Marisol Hernández. Calviño is someone who knows the institutions, has a solid idea of the Eurozone and his agenda is not as small and reductionist as that of the Irish, whose great obsession and whose great asset to attract votes is his position on taxation. For this reason, for the Franco-German axis, which has spent weeks trying to shore up an ambitious Recovery Fund and believes that it is time not to reserve any force, Calviño is the best option.
The competition is even
In the face of official silence, there are no confirmed data, but all the sources consulted in Brussels, Madrid, Berlin, The Hague or Paris draw a scenario in which the Spanish (socialist) vice-president would probably have the support of Germany, France and Portugal at the outset. , Italy, Greece and Finland . Donohoe (People's Party) has Austria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia and Cyprus. And the Luxembourgish liberal, to the Netherlands, Belgium and Malta. Lithuania being an unknown, although the Baltics usually go hand in hand.
There are 19 countries and 10 votes are required to win . If after the first telematic round next Thursday none have them, each candidate will be informed of how many votes they have had so that they can assess whether to continue or, most likely in the case of those who barely get support, withdraw. The calculations suggest that the first to fall will be Gramegna, and there speculation soars.
Everyone agrees that it will be very tight. The team of outgoing Mário Centeno, that of the minister, that of Moncloa and that of the chancellor believe that the Spanish could have options if she manages to mobilize the undecided or the less firm , appealing to specific needs. And they cross their fingers. But also the message that reaches the capitals is that the liberals, if their candidate Gramegna falls, would switch to the popular Donohoe, which could be enough to defeat the Spanish. There is even the possibility that some of them bet directly on the Irish if their pools indicate that the vice president would prevail over the first.
The balances are very precarious . The ministers vote, but in theory the prime ministers decide . And they are not always from the same party. In Germany, for example, the chancellor is from the PPE and will not endorse the party's candidate, but the European party candidate of her minister Scholz. The same is true in the Netherlands: Mark Rutte, the prime minister, is liberal, but Woepke Hoekstra is from the popular family. In Belgium there is a broad provisional coalition and in Finland Minister Vanhanen (centrist) does not coincide with the first Social Democrat, Sanna Marin.
It can also happen that being a socialist and Mediterranean country, like Malta, it opts for the popular or the liberal because the main point of the island's economic agenda is taxation . And there the tuning with Calviño is less than that of Dublin or Luxembourg. Or vice versa: Greece is in popular hands and opts for the Spanish. It should be borne in mind that the center-left positions and economic agendas in certain northern European countries have more in common with the southern center-right than vice versa.
Several European sources explain to this newspaper that Pedro Sánchez and the Spanish vice president have been going through two very intense weeks of calls, campaign and lobby . There is no playbook that serves to activate the exact spring of each capital, but with everything pending one or two votes, the key to start is not to lose any of the ties and seduce another pair. Last week, Irish Commissioner Phil Hogan withdrew his candidacy for the leadership of the World Consumer Organization, further complicating aspirations. Two Irish were not going to occupy positions of that relevance, but when giving way to others, Donohoe is reinforced. Hence the need to redouble efforts. In 2015, De Guindos traveled tens of thousands of kilometers by plane at the same time, visiting up to three capitals in the same day. He wanted to meet each and every one of his colleagues in person, look them in the face and convince them. It didn't work.
The Spanish is trying to counter the disqualification campaign that a certain sector of the popular Europeans, from Brussels, are leading. There is no equivalent in reverse. There is no discredit or attack by either side, public or private, on Donohoe or Gramegna. Her great asset, in addition to her credentials, of being the only woman and that the Luxembourger has already held that position not too long ago, is that she has the support of the greats. If the vote were by a qualified majority, it would wipe out. Each state has its own voice, but it is hard to imagine that if the four greats of the Eurozone are committed (and on top of that this desire respects the status quo of distribution of power by political families), the result will be different. But for this each friend is a treasure and a betrayal; only an unfulfilled promise can be fatal.
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