The mayor of Algeciras, José Ignacio Landaluce, has been named the vice president of the commission for oreign affairs in Spain’s lower house of parliament, Congress. For apart from being a mayor Landaluce is also a Cádiz MP for the Partido Popular.
The PP group in Congress met on Tuesday to approve the appointments for spokespersons and presidents of commissions. It was a top level affair presided over by the Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, plus his sidekick Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and the secretary general of the party, María Dolores de Cospedal.
The presidency of the foreign affairs commission rests with the CiU’s spokesperson, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, whilst the spokesperson of the commission is the PP’s José María Beneyto, who is the MP for Cuenca.
Landaluce has been in parliament since 2000 and during that time has been a member of both the foreign affairs and defence commissions. There are two differences this time round: he moves up to being the vice president and the PP are in power.
Naturally the mayor from across the bay is relishing his new role as he observes: “This role is important for the Campo de Gibraltar because it makes political decisions.” He added the ministry will have much to say on the Strait of Gibraltar, on relations with Morocco and of course, Gibraltar.
The role of foreign minister is held by José Manuel García-Margallo but Landaluce is in no doubt that he will listen to the members of the commission. With regards to Gibraltar Landaluce repeats the PP mantra of “two flags, three voices” in discussions over the future sovereignty of the Rock.
Such hard line verbiage is all well and good however the PP and Landaluce should realise that in the sovereignty dance it takes three to tango and if Gibraltar wanders off to powder its nose then there’s no dancing!
After his appointment Landaluce observed: “It is a good vantage point to be vice president of this committee on foreign affairs because its decisions affect the Campo de Gibraltar and gives us a privileged position.” He also stressed the importance of the province of Cádiz as it is the home of the port of Algeciras – the most important in Spain – the American base at Rota and another military base in Gibraltar. The PP already insists that Gibraltar has no airspace or waters – now Landaluce seems to be arguing the Rock is just another part of the Spanish province for which he sits in parliament.
With the change of government the Campo de Gibraltar sees its influence in foreign affairs in Madrid switch from José Carracao to Landaluce. Carracao was a senator who stood down at the last election after five terms in office. He held key posts in the commissions for foreign affairs, co-operation, the EU and others. The Campo de Gibraltar now has no voice in the Senate but instead has Landaluce.
The difference between Carracao and Landaluce is profound. Carracao was the mayor of Jimena, then the president of the association of town halls in the Campo de Gibraltar before going to the senate and assuming special responsibilities for cross border affairs. He viewed himself as a friend of Gibraltar’s, albeit from a Spanish perspective. However Landaluce is a sworn enemy of the Rock as is his party. Expect stormy times ahead.