ACTING president Mariano Rajoy has responded to speculation that he may not turn up to the in-house presidential voting if it is 'inevitable' he will lose, insisting he has no intention of missing it.
Unnamed sources from the PP's Executive Committee have said 'the logical thing to do is avoid this procedure if he is going to lose', and that there is little point Rajoy's going to be there if a pact is already sealed between the PSOE and Podemos by then.
Parliamentary veterans even likened it to Rajoy's bidding for his own rope at an execution.
They also believe it could turn into a 'harsh anti-PP scuffle' in which the party is 'likely to be attacked all over again about issues such as the Bárcenas case', referring to the former treasurer's alleged underground accounting in which PP members are said to have received cash-in-hand bonuses out of a company bribery pot.
“Exposing himself to all that...well, there are people in the party who have their doubts,” one anonymous PP member at Parliamentary level considered.
Some believe it could weaken the PP further.
Others, however, hold a different view: Rajoy should go to the debate and voting session to 'show a State profile in public', to denounce the 'radical left-wing alternative' which PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez 'is obsessed with', and 'force the other parties to look at themselves in the mirror'.
The PP headquarters on Madrid's C/ Génova is a focal point of doom and gloom at present, with most believing that if Rajoy remains in the Moncloa Palace – Spain's answer to 10 Downing Street and the White House – it will be 'by process of elimination' and probably only in a third or fourth round of voting.
At the moment, the PP is clinging onto the hope that negotiations between the PSOE and Podemos will fail.
“Let's hope someone in Podemos says to Sánchez, 'I don't accept your conditions', or that the socialists themselves say, 'we've got this far, we cannot carry on in this vein and we're going to restore law and order to the party and to Spain,” said sectorial vice-secretary for the PP, Javier Maroto.
Although the PSOE appears to be suffering a minor leadership crisis – partly caused by the controversy of 'lending' senators to Catalunya Left Republic (ERC) and Democracy and Liberty (DiL) to give them a presence in Parliament – the PP believes this tactic was to achieve the aim of getting the pro-independence parties in Catalunya to abstain in the in-house voting.
The PSOE, however, has stated categorically it will not vote for Rajoy, nor abstain from voting to make it easier for him to get in, and is not prepared to form a left-right mega-coalition with the PP.
Spokesman Antonio Hernando says now is 'make or break' for Rajoy, he hopes the acting president will indeed show his face at the presidential voting debate and 'will not artificially delay the process'.
The first round of votes will take place at the earliest in the first week of February, and during the pre-voting debate, Rajoy is expected to present his proposals and to reveal how far he is prepared to back down to achieve centre-liberal independents, Ciudadanos' abstention in a second or third round.
But within the PP, certain anonymous members are beginning to wonder, privately, why Rajoy has not apparently 'lifted a finger' to seek support from other parties, and has not phoned either Sánchez or Ciudadanos' leader Albert Rivera again to continue to discuss the matter.
If Rajoy is not invested, and the PSOE cannot form a coalition with the rest of the left, Spain will have to go back to the polls.
All parties want to avoid this, since it could mean the political uncertainty continues well into the summer, leaving Spain without a government for most of 2016 and literally paralysed in terms of policy-making – in effect, a lost year for the country.
The biggest hurdle to negotiations among the left and liberals is each party's stance over Catalunya.
Podemos wants a referendum, saying Spain's unity should not be forced upon Catalunya, but instead gained through democracy and discussion.
The party's supporters believe allowing at least an official opinion poll, if not an actual referendum, could be the key to keeping Catalunya within Spain – the lack of freedom to express their desires either way has been the main fuel for the independence debate, spurring on those who are on the fence to support their region's secession.
But the PSOE does not want to allow 'any action which may divide Spain', including a referendum.
Whilst Podemos insists the referendum is not a 'red line', it may not be prepared to back down – and if it does, it may lose face and support among its voters.