Elections in Spain: The keys to the debate between Sánchez and Feijóo

(CNN Spanish) — One hundred minutes of debate, four thematic blocks and two golden minutes to close the meeting. Under this structural axis, the spectators of the Atresmedia corporation media attentively attended the electoral debate that faced the president of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, and the opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo on Monday.

The meeting had generated a lot of expectation in previous days, not only because it was the only opportunity to see the main candidates for the Presidency of the Government of Spain confront each other during the electoral campaign, but also because it was presented as the perfect opportunity for voters to get to know a little better the proposals of each one for the general elections of July 23. However, that objective was blurred given the harsh and underhanded tone of the debate.

In the first block, where the issue to be addressed was the country’s economy, one of the most heard phrases was “let me speak”. Perhaps, one of the few audible at many moments of the meeting.

Núñez Feijóo, leader of the center-right Popular Party (PP), used it almost endlessly to try to open the way for his arguments before a combative Sánchez. “We are the last in GDP growth (per capita in Europe)”, brandished Núñez Feijóo at the same time that Sánchez, general secretary of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), affirmed that Spain is “leading economic growth in Europe”.

The candidates for the Presidency of the Spanish Government, the current president of the PSOE, Pedro Sánchez, and the leader of the right-wing Popular Party (PP), Alberto Núñez Feijoo (d), shake hands before participating in the debate. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

This dynamic, which made the dialogue less clear, was repeated throughout the televised face-to-face. Such was the passion of the candidates in their crusade for the truth that the two moderators had to call them to order on several occasions, albeit with relative success. This fact was perceived by the users of some social networks, especially on Twitter, and which they took advantage of to criticize the format and the role of those who had to conduct the space.

And not only that, since some also stated that they lacked the verification of data in real time of the arguments made by Sánchez and Núñez Feijóo. Basically because the candidates discredited each other and the data was left unchecked.

As expected, and as is happening in campaign events, both candidates also had the opportunity to make ugly the pacts and agreements they have reached with extremes for their political objectives. On the one hand, Sánchez criticized the programmatic agreements reached in recent weeks by the PP with the far-right formation Vox to govern in some regional chambers; while Núñez Feijóo did the same when recalling the support that the PSOE obtained from nationalist and pro-independence formations in parliament to approve different laws throughout this legislature.

A political antagonism that was present in each block, from regional and international politics to social policies and equality. All this with crossed accusations of lying to viewers.

There was only one moment when the tension of the debate was suspended: when the popular leader offered his socialist counterpart to sign a pact live and direct to facilitate the investiture of the political party that wins the elections. Truce quickly rejected by Sánchez, irritated because the PP has agreed with Vox to govern in the Community of Extremadura despite the fact that the PSOE won the elections in the region.

Time wasted and with many proposals without flourishing, the definitive moment arrived, the golden minute for each candidate. 60 seconds of closure that Sánchez took advantage of to request the vote of those who do not wish to see a cut in social rights approved in this legislature. Núñez Feijóo dedicated his time – and without looking at the correct camera – to ask for the confidence of the voters to obtain a majority that allows them to govern alone, without the support of Vox, since “the extremes do not know how to manage or govern”.

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Elections in Spain: The keys to the debate between Sánchez and Feijóo