16 Mar Choosing the political battlefield
The Chinese strategist Sun Tzu said that you can always win if you don’t let your rivals know when and where the battle is going to take place. Perhaps Ximo Puig’s love of reading, the President of the Valencia regional government, has led him to adopt the military thinking of this popular group in order to articulate the way of remaining in power and putting the finishing touches on his political career under the shadow of Joan Lerma.
The retreat to the winter quarters in Morella with his followers before the announcement of the elections call in advance, which took his friends-enemies of Compromís aback, who thought it was theater rather than involvement in the constant announcements about the regional elections; or the flexibility of his speech that adapts to what the context requires, openly. These are the clear military principles collected from Sun Tzu’s work.
The miscalculation made by Mónica Oltra could cost her dearly. To start a campaign in Madrid against who has the power to establish the moment when the followers have to face the ballot boxes could be the beginning of the end of the bringing together of the acronyms and sensitivities that gave rise to Compromís. She, as well as Puig, has ‘The Prince’ by Machiavelli as a reference manual on her nightstand, but it seems that Puig drinks from the original source and Oltra from a poorly translated adaptation.
To be the first woman to govern the Valencia regional government has blinded her, and Puig has preferred to go down in history as the first president who called regional elections in advance, because of what may happen regarding the uncertain political scene that is approaching. As a great survivor, he has achieved to seize what he had at his fingertips, but he has not allowed himself to be seduced by those crazy dreams that depend on matters that are not always manageable.
Puig knows that those who anticipate, plan ahead and reach the battlefield first, wait for the rival in a relaxed position; the last ones to reach the battlefield, improvise and start the fight, are the ones who get worn down. Just pay attention to the fact that neither Ciudadanos nor Compromís had their candidates and the campaign team ready when the announcement came. PP is an old hand in politics and was ready as well.
Perhaps, what the “most honorable” is looking for is to open the range of options, and he knows –or thinks- that it would be easier to try to approach to Ciudadanos, rather than to repeat government with Compromís. The candidate Toni Cantó does not seem to be very willing to that, which seems strange to locals and foreigners in the orange formation.
Having forgotten the much-extolled singularity of the Valencian speech during an electoral process, which will be obscured by the national agenda now, Puig goes ahead to position his followers and to take advantage of the support of the central government that has by his side, and only by his side, without sharing it with Sandra Gómez, who was anointed by Pedro Sánchez himself.
However, the choice of the battlefield sometimes is not enough. When more than 25000 Persians landed in near Maratón around the year 490 a.C, that was 32 km from Athens, they did not choose the date and the place out of the blue. They were aware of the fact that Maratón was far away enough from Athens, which allowed them to land in an orderly manner, and also that the plain extended in front was ideal for the Persian chivalry that overcame the Athenian.
What they did not foresee was that the Athenians charged forward agitatedly, avoiding the Persian rain of arrows over their heads, and narrowing the battlefield to stop the Persian chivalry from moving forward from the flanks as it was planned, and their evolutions hindered by the mountains on the one side, and the sea on the other. The battle ended with an incredible outcome. At the end, exaggerated or not, the result of the day was due to a bad decision on the battlefield by the Persians, despite they had already planned it. The same thing can happen to Puig.
This is not an isolated event. It is said that Napoleon claimed that he would not have been defeated if he had had the chance to choose the battlefield. In fact, it was not Napoleon who mastered this art, but Arthur Wellesley, the duke of Wellington, who always brought the enemy army to fight wherever he wanted. I do not know who is more egomaniac, if Napeleon or Wellington. It is your choice.