Soraya Saenz de Santamaria and Operation Menina

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SORAYA Sáenz de Santamaría has dismissed claims that she´s being groomed to take over as the Popular Party (PP) leader, in the event of a tight election result that precedes coalition negotiations. 

The deputy leader took Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s stead at the televised debate on December 7 clashing with the leaders of Cuidadamos, the Socialist party and Podemos. 

Perhaps more significantly she has rivalled Rajoy as the national face of the party in recent weeks, appearing on frequent TV debates as well as hot-air ballooning and dancing on popular Spanish shows. 

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias has quipped that this is an ‘operation menina’, referencing the ladies-in-waiting period of royal Spain. 

More bitingly, he suggested that by shifting the leadership to Sáenz de Santamaría, the PP could win the support of centre-right Cuidadamos in potential coalition bargaining.  He asked Cuidadamos leader Albert Rivera whether his refusal to work with Rajoy would extend to his deputy leader. 

Mr Rivera is seen as a possible kingmaker should, as is now expected, the December 20 elections throw up a stalemate with none of the four key parties securing a majority. 

Meanwhile Sáenz de Santamaría remained on point telling reporters that “I don’t care about Operation Menina,”  “We’re going to win the elections.”

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