The debate on Monday the 10th will go down in the history of Communication and will be studied in the Faculties of Political Science, but Pedro Sánchez will not be the winner, although he may go down in history for other reasons. As Napoleon Bonaparte said: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” If we take Sánchez’s interruptions in the debate as a reference, it is shown that Núñez Feijóo made few mistakes.
The President of the Government dedicated himself to hindering, to put it finally, the interventions of the opposition leader rather than exposing the socialist arguments in his turns to convince the voters. Most of the Spaniards expected that Sánchez was going to eat Feijóo with chips, and the PSOE himself dropped that idea a few days before, and even the socialist leader himself believed it, hence -error, enormous error-, which raised with a certain arrogance to hold six debates.
Today more than ever Sánchez could use a new face to face. But as Sabina would say: “Now it’s too late, princess.” In addition to interrupting a lot, the president made another serious mistake that is surprising that the hundred-year-old advisers in Moncloa did not detect. They have heard of the “elephant in the room”, an expression that the British use a lot and that alludes to a thorny subject that everyone knows but nobody dares to talk about, because it is not appropriate or uncomfortable to deal with. Political scientist George Lakoff drew on the pachyderm metaphor in his book: “Don’t think about an elephant. Language and political message”, to define that with that same word we automatically evoke an animal with a flexible trunk and large ears. Even when we ask someone not to think of one, we are recording it.
Well, Pedro Sánchez took advantage of his golden minute, the most valued of all -in this you can talk without being interrupted-, to take his elephant for a walk in the room. One of the thorniest issues for the president has been his alliances with Bildu, and the first sentence that Sánchez said in his last speech was: “If someone has told you that you have to vote for the PP to end ETA, let them know that they are not it will, because ETA ended in 2011”. He alone had put ETA – the damn elephant – back in the room, without anyone asking or demanding it. Instead of offering his project, he referred to his adversaries, valuing them. Feijóo closed the debate with his opponent knocked out and on the ground, while he wore a certain satisfied smile.
Please, do not turn in rounds. Pedro Sánchez’s problem is him, specifically his arrogance. A haughtiness that confuses him and leads him to continually lower himself to the category of leader of the opposition, when in reality he is a president of the nation’s Government. Pedro Sánchez does not know very well who he is and what his category is, not human but political, that he hides behind his anxiety and his superiority complex. Criticism hurts him too much and what others will say or think about him, a difficult situation to bear for a politician constantly subjected to scrutiny. Hence, Sánchez became like a motorcycle when Feijóo refuted his arguments, instead of explaining clearly and serenely why the Spanish economy is going like a motorcycle.
Perhaps worst of all, society has begun to see a certain toxic capacity in the protagonist, and that explains the polarization that he has caused in the Spanish population in recent years. When what this society really wants is to live peacefully politically and balanced economically. His tense tone and his aggressiveness were also very surprising, while his rival was more serene and had a much more empathetic non-verbal communication.
It is perhaps in this transmission of ideas that he does not use spoken messages where President Sánchez stumbles the most, and his overwhelming image ends up devouring the character, who, as in the myth of Narciso, seeks his own exclusive beauty in the reflection of the water, but ends up drowning in it as the only virtue of his character. Nothing is decided until 23-J passes, but the debate on Monday has been a great boost for Núñez Feijóo.