The Government strives to mitigate the sources of social discontent in order to prevent them from consolidating, spreading and destroying the discourse of economic recovery and the materialization of the way out of the crisis. La Moncloa has set as the main element on which to build the second part of the legislature the concept of “fair recovery”.
But in the face of this fact, the reality is that the protests have returned to the streets, as demonstrated by the announced mobilizations of the transport sector, which may be joined by farm workers, or the protests of workers in heavy industry. For mobilizing, the coalition government of Pedro Sánchez is going to protest even the police
national and local and civil guards, all those involved in the reform of the Citizen Security law who feel directly harmed by the legislative reform.
Heterogeneous visions coexist in the Executive regarding the level of social unrest and its consequences. All this despite the fact that on the street Discontent with the reformist demands imposed by the European Union is evident, mainly on issues such as pensions, to which is added the galloping inflation that raises the prices of the shopping basket. But in general, the diagnosis is shared: the great blow of the pandemic has stopped and embodying the economic recovery is the great political objective. Catalonia and other reforms that were on the agenda in the past have taken a back seat. This mantra of a non-exclusive economic recovery is the main occupation of the Government. “Our approach is a fair and speedy recovery”, in contrast, they say, adrift from the great recession that the PP had to manage. In La Moncloa they defend all the measures made so far, but they recognize that there are many things to do. And they advance that they have time for it: “Legislature remains.” Election Advance Drums are trading down on the presidential residence right now. Even if they are fed by former guests.
“The debate is between growing 6% or 4%,” say government sources, stating that there is no doubt that “Spain is going to grow.” From one of the strong economic ministries of the Executive they believe that “at this time it is not a question of generalized discontent.” In the purple flank of the Government the analysis is coincident in this case. “Obviously we are concerned about some situations such as the price of energy or those derived from the supply crisis,” they assess from the Ministry of Labor. But they add that coming from a pandemic “the coup has been stopped with unprecedented social protection measures.”
Defense of its management
La Moncloa works with the thesis that the economic recovery should be generalized and not remain in macroeconomic figures that, in addition, the European Commission has limited in recent days. The main ideas of “just recovery” and “leaving no one behind” they have not been chosen by chance. European funds are the fundamental fuel in this journey. But in turn they are linked to structural reforms that in many cases cause a short-term cost in the most affected sectors. But in La Moncloa they believe that this trial is premature. And they set an objective above specific sectors: “Of course, those who cannot be losers in this crisis are workers, pensioners, young people or the self-employed as in the previous crisis.”
There are the lines of action of the Government. Guaranteeing pensions or budget items in the form of checks for young people are decisions that seek to alleviate these two large pockets of unhappy population. The coalition also deploys its catalog of measures, such as the revaluation of pensions or increases in the minimum wage as its best guarantee to defend its management and argue that the great coup has stopped and that the way out of this crisis will be different. Regarding the possibility that the processes of reindustrialization and modernization of the economy expel some workers, the Government relies on the manna of European funds.
The transport strike
Specifically, the different sources of tension are perceived by the Government in a very different way. The most pressing is the carrier strike. From the Executive they limit this strike, not because it does not concern them, but because they want it to be clear that “it is an employer strike.” But government sources confirm that the Minister of Transport is already in negotiations with the employers “To prevent the blood from reaching the river.” On the table are the tolls on the highways and the increase in the price of fuel.
In private it is recognized in the Government that the application of the tolls will in no case be an immediate matter and that in no case will it enter into force before the end of this legislature. But it is recognized that this question “occupies us especially.” There is concern about the combined effect that can be generated with the effects derived from supply shortages that already affect some sectors. In the case of fuels, the Government can only shrug their shoulders and argue that their ability to lower prices “is limited.”
Undoubtedly, what worries the Executive most is the increase in the price of electricity, because it “carries a lot of things.” And in addition, the president’s promise remains on the table: that the electricity bill paid by citizens at the end of the year is the same as that of 2018, which seems enormously difficult. It is defended that many measures have been taken to rescue the most vulnerable consumers and prevent the rise in the price of energy from being transferred to the price of the bill.
But it is not denied that negative effects on employment can be generated in the business fabric, as in the steel industry. But here too the Government raises its limitations and defends that Sánchez is trying to negotiate regulatory changes in Brussels to review the price formation system in the European electricity market. To all these cases are added those of the interim personnel of the public function or specifically in the Administration of Justice. With mobilizations already underway in both cases.
The Government is aware that its reelection options require that its economic diagnosis, that of a “fair recovery”, prevail. For now, they are working on the corrective agenda of the first elements that threaten it. And beyond solving all the sources of discontent, the objective is to guarantee “rapid” recovery. The next elections depend on it.