“If they told us in May we would not have believed it.” The phrase is from the second vice president of the Government, Pablo Iglesias, who in an informal conversation with a group of journalists during the Spanish-Italian summit in Palma drew a scenario of stability for the coalition. Although assuming that discussions will continue to take place within the Executive.
The Government managed yesterday to approve the accounts in the Congress of Deputies with 189 votes in favor and the competition of 11 different parties. There are 22 more seats than he could add Pedro Sanchez at his inauguration less than a year ago. That is the scenario to which Iglesias referred a few days ago, recalling how in May and June the coalition was in the minority and had to resort to Inés Arrimadas in order to carry out the extensions of the state of alarm.
That is another of the lessons of this budget fall: Ciudadanos has chosen a new path of relations with the Executive. An unsuccessful attempt while his attempt to replace the independentistas was defeated by the order of the second vice president within the coalition.
Moncloa will keep that door open to have escape routes, now that the independence parties of ERC, Bildu and PDECat have joined the list of stable allies who, after supporting the Budgets, will demand counterparts from the Government.
All the sources consulted in recent weeks agree that with the approved Budgets another stage begins. In which Pedro Sánchez will have more autonomy within the Council of Ministers with respect to Pablo Iglesias. There is no majority against in the Congress of Deputies and with some Budgets the legislature can be exhausted in November 2023.
Few of the PSOE want to break with Podemos. The feeling is that there is no alternative and that the repetition of the elections on November 10 showed that “the lack of agreement on the left has an incalculable cost,” summarizes a socialist leader. «Peter and Paul have talked a lot and agree that an abrupt end to the coalition would not be good for either of them», They say in United We Can. “If we go to a long term, after so many years of shocks, and the economic recovery is noticeable … the coalition will be strengthened,” predicts a former socialist leader with good ties to both legs of the coalition.
But there are figures in the PSOE and within the Government who want this new stage to allow the Prime Minister to have “more autonomy” with respect to Iglesias. In Podemos they are aware that the new political time will depend on how far the capacity of Iglesias falls to be able to continue setting the strategic course of the Government, as it has done with the Budgets, and to what extent it can influence the economic agenda. “Our position is modest, we are the minority partner. We are satisfied with some results, but most of the time we are the ones who have to give in, “Iglesias said yesterday in an interview in La Hora de La 1.” Our job is to make the most of the weight we have. ” The second vice president ventured to say that there will be no changes in the coalition after the approval of the Budgets. Although that power resides only in the president. Without altering the weights of the coalition, the Government assumes that Sánchez will make adjustments when the pandemic situation has improved.
But this new stage, and the course that the legislature finally takes, will depend on two elements that will be resolved in the first quarter of 2021. And a third that will permeate everything. The latter is key: the economic crisis derived from the pandemic. This factor removes any ghost of an electoral advance. Although the coalition celebrates demographic data that corroborate that their support remains stable at the values of a year ago and that the president “is the best valued leader,” they insist on La Moncloa. “The PSOE and the Government is the only solid thing at the moment”, they say in the presidency of the Government compared to the rest of the parliamentary arch. But the adverse effects of the crisis make the scenario of a long term in office preferable for the Executive. All messages go in that direction.
And although with the approved Budgets the Government can turn its lights on, in the medium term it will have to continue managing a pandemic that is only expected to be under control by the end of 2021. And yes, the vaccination campaigns comply with what is planned and All vaccines about to receive health authorization are effective. Furthermore, on a purely political level, the new political time has a first touchstone with the Catalan elections.
Until the final composition of the new parliament is known, many unknowns will remain in the air. The possibility of a tripartite will depend not only on whether ERC, PSC and the commons add up, but on how the sum and the relationship of forces also remain in the independence sphere.
If ERC and PSC are willing to bear the internal cost of embracing that option, the long term in Madrid will clearly slide through the alliance of the coalition with the independentistas. If this is not the case and a new Government of independence forces is formed, the national legislature would be plagued with unknowns because the current coalition alliances would weaken. The Government’s decision on pardons can derive from what happens at the polls and in the confirmation of the Government.
And it is that from the socialist part of the Government they reject the pressure from Iglesias and want to unlink this decision on pardons from the Catalan electoral calendar. This newspaper already published last Tuesday that the Government did not expect to have to pronounce on the matter before the Catalan elections. And right now it does not depend on itself.
And as a background sea the judicial pulse. A multi-band pulse. In the first place between the whole of the Government with the PP to renew the CGPJ. This Wednesday the coalition parties registered a new bill to curtail the powers of the CGPJ once its mandate takes office, as it currently does. But discarding the part of the reform that sought to lower the majority to renew the body and that would allow the PP to be excluded. While Iglesias pressures, as published by ABC, to recover that reform and incorporate Bildu and ERC into the cast.
In the Government they insist that the agreement with the PP is closed. The PP denies it. And yesterday Vice President Iglesias was unmarked saying that “there is no agreement” with the PP for renewal and warned that the Executive is “running out of patience.” In Moncloa, it is also pointed out that the time that the PP has been granted “is not infinite”, but the partial reform promoted this week does show that the Government has decided to wait. The way in which this issue is resolved and the results of the Catalans will largely determine the type of journey that Sánchez will have to go through in a legislature that yesterday he assured that he can extend, if he wishes, until the end of 2023.