A step to the right

In his first speech after being elected as PP president last Saturday, Casado showed himself to be concerned with social issues but said hardly anything about economics. This is in marked contrast not just to Rajoy, but also to his opposite number Pedro Sánchez, who leads a Socialist government intent on increasing public spending, amongst other things.

If it's not the Spanish economy, what does keep Casado up at night? Abortion laws and Catalan secessionists, it seems. Staying true to his aim of representing "everything to the right of the Socialist party", Casado suggested returning to 1985 legislation that rendered abortion illegal, with hardly any exceptions (a law that was cancelled in 2010 by Socialist prime minister Luis Zapatero, who legalised no-questions-asked abortion during the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy). The new PP chief also proposed outlawing pro-independence Catalan parties, thus trying to eliminate the secessionist problem at its source.

These proposed policies are not only objectionable in themselves. They also signify regression for the PP at a time when it needs to retain younger voters, many of whom have already defected to centrist newcomers Ciudadanos.

Casado's suggested abortion law would force women to travel abroad for terminations or, worse, to use unsafe, under-the counter methods. It would also remove their freedom and their right to make such a profound decision for themselves, rather than having it made for them by the government.

What of Casado's suggestion to ban Catalan groups who support secession? Let's call it out for what it is: an attempt to prevent the legitimate expression of political ideology. Sánchez is also opposed to Catalan secession, but his recent attempts at dialogue with Quim Torra, the pro-secession Catalan president, represent a more constructive approach to this complex issue. And if Rajoy lost many PP supporters because of his hard-line approach to secession, Casado won't win them back by adopting an even tougher stance.

This brings us, finally, to corruption, the PP's faithful scourge. Although the Spanish left is no stranger to corruption either, it's the Conservatives who are currently the hated face of a shady political subculture. If they're to stand any chance of climbing back up the polls, they need to show that corruption is in the past and that their newer politicians have unblemished CVs.

How unfortunate, then, that Casado's CV is precisely what's in question. In April, it emerged that the new PP leader obtained a Master's degree without going to class or taking exams; a judge is currently investigating whether his claims to the qualification are fraudulent. Hardly what you want of a politician tasked with updating and cleansing a disgraced PP.