“Spain loves you, Yolanda,” Pablo Iglesias exaggerated. And he returned to the charge. He returned so much that they even had some quarrel, like the ones they have always had without damaging their friendship. Iglesias wanted to give way in the public leadership of United We Can to the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, and did not give up despite her resistance. Until last Monday he left her with no option to another refusal. He told her almost at the time he made his announcement public: he was leaving the Government to avoid an electoral debacle in Madrid, he was proposing her as his successor and practically investing her as the next candidate of United We Can. A sudden and a little brave transfer of powers, very much in the way of Iglesias. A new leadership whose scope still contains many unknowns, even for the designated one.
It is evident that the whole of Spain does not love Yolanda Díaz (Ferrol, A Coruña, 49 years old), among other things because 40% still do not know her, according to the CIS barometer of last January. But that same survey placed her as the third most valued minister with the same note (4.6) as Salvador Illa, three tenths more than President Sánchez himself and a long way from the 3.3 of Iglesias.
Data like this were those that the leader of United We can put in front of him with perseverance: they could not miss that electoral trump card. Nobody like her achieves good evaluations outside the usual electorate of Iglesias, especially in that of the PSOE. And that which does nothing was almost a stranger outside of Galicia, where she had developed her entire political and professional career as a labor lawyer. And that more than one of them had gotten their hair on end when seeing this militant since adolescence in the Communist Party (PCE) enter through the door of the Ministry of Labor. Fourteen months later, among the first and most effusive congratulations he received for his promotion, there was no shortage of the president of the businessmen, Antonio Garamendi. Things have gone so well for her that it has not even taken a toll on her to suffer a very hard political setback: the disappearance of the Galician Parliament from the confluence that she sponsored and that was destroyed by internal conflicts.
Last Monday was a tachycardic day for Díaz. The events took place while she had to attend a telematic meeting with European ministers at the same time and, later, already in person, attend the Spanish-French summit. The phone only received reactions to the announcement of Iglesias. It still took her a few hours to pronounce herself with a tweet that contained a subliminal message in a seemingly bland tone. She declared herself “honored” to assume the vice presidency and continue as Minister of Labor, but she said nothing about her electoral candidacy, which Iglesias had expressly cited. It was a first gesture, which was followed by another two days later: her express resignation to fight to be second vice president – Sánchez himself had said so in public – and to accept the third rank of the ladder. Of the latter, she has been especially proud to her friends. She has always joked that she doesn’t like to get involved “in those macho fights.”
In video, the profile of Yolanda Díaz.
These two gestures, what the tweet did not say and the resignation to debut with a pulse of power, summarize the certainties and unknowns of Díaz’s new role. It is clear that with her the so common public tensions with Iglesias will be rare. For now, the Socialists, starting with Sánchez, have already thanked him for saving the first fight. It is much less clear to guess how he will exercise the leadership that has been attributed to him over United We Can and how he will manage his relations with the rest of the ministers of training, especially with those who practice the hard line. All this is still pending between Iglesias and Díaz, those friends who do not mind fighting.
Their first meeting was in 2001, at a PCE conference in Madrid. Iglesias was coming off the pitched battles at the tragic G-20 summit in Genoa. That 22-year-old boy, whom she remembers “a little chubbier,” fascinated her with a talk about Antonio Gramsci. They met again some years later when tables proliferated in Madrid for the unity of the left. In 2012, IU sent Iglesias to Galicia as an advisor for an electoral campaign, in which Díaz had agreed with the nationalists of Xosé Manuel Beiras, a coalition that, for the first time in elections in Spain, would show the enormous field that the crisis had opened to the left of the PSOE. It was there that their paths began to merge.
She was one of those who rowed from the beginning in Izquierda Unida to join with Podemos. Their ties with Iglesias were strengthened without preventing them from holding some different views of politics. Díaz always admired his friend’s determination to lift the alternative left out of testimonialism and bring it to power. But at the same time he joked with his impatience: “These from Podemos, as they were successful from the beginning, were born rich. We come from the poor, we are not in such a hurry ”. He has never shared either Churches’ strategy of dramatizing the pulses in the Government in public. She has had them, many and hard, especially with the economic vice president, Nadia Calviño. Those clashes have rebounded from time to time towards Sánchez himself. The difference is that Díaz has tried to keep the battles indoors and minimize them out as much as possible. And he has persevered in that way of acting no matter how much that bothered Iglesias.
These days he has told many people, the first to employers and unions, that he has no intention of overly modifying his role and that his total priority will continue to be the Ministry. Her ability to work – she sleeps very little, barely four or five hours – is going to be put to the test, because she will have to reconcile it with that stellar political leadership that has fallen on her overnight and that still seems to have her a bit puzzled. Because there are many relevant things to define. Like the condition of electoral leader that Iglesias grants him without her having spoken yet.
Díaz says that he loved to see his father, a union member in a shirt and sweater, put on a tie to go to institutional events. “We communists are like that, we respect the institutions,” he stresses. With that attitude, she came to the Ministry of Labor and surprised those who remembered her only as a fierce leftist. Although the latter assures that she does not deny either, now that she is a minister better known for her pacts than for her conflicts. On the 10th, he briefly returned to Galicia to collect a CC OO award and, after reviewing the great union fights in his land, he proclaimed: “My mother, my father and all the people I love the most are part of that fight” .
Days later, he answered the question of what it is to be a communist today:
– Defend equality and democracy.
“Many say communism is old fashioned,” they told him.
—The old thing is that there are poor people in the 21st century.