Spanish conservatives appoint veteran Núñez Feijóo as new leader –

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s main opposition party has named a veteran conservative politician as its new leader to turn the page on an ugly internal clash that precipitated the downfall of a once-promising young leader and breathed new life into his far-right rivals.

Members of the People’s Party on Saturday elected Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the regional leader of the northwestern region of Galicia, as president, tasking him with leading the center-right party’s attempt to overthrow socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

The vote took place during a two-day party congress in the southern city of Seville. Feijóo ran unopposed.

Sánchez has led a left-to-center coalition since the start of 2020 and has said he intends to govern during his current term, which lasts until the end of 2023.

Feijóo is a 60-year-old former civil servant who won four consecutive regional elections in Galicia, a Popular Party stronghold. He is seen as the consensus figure needed to quickly restore peace to conservative ranks after Pablo Casado’s ugly fall from the party presidency.

Casado, 41, took over as party leader promising a clean slate after a series of corruption scandals brought down a previous People’s Party administration. But Casado lost an internal power struggle that involved public accusations of corruption against another party heavyweight, who in turn accused Casado of political espionage.

Feijóo did not directly address the unseemly feud that brought down Casado. Instead, he focused on sending the message that the People’s Party would exercise responsible opposition through his experience.

“We will do everything possible for the best of Spain because our adversaries are our political rivals, not Spain,” Feijóo told party members.

According to recent polls, the People’s Party turmoil has mostly benefited the far-right Vox party, which has been gaining ground in Spain’s increasingly fragmented political landscape.

The People’s Party announced in March that it would enter into a government coalition with Vox in the northwest region of Castilla y León, the first major power grab for the far right since the end of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco in 1975.

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