01/06/2022 at 17:04 CET
This Friday marks the two-year anniversary of Pedro Sánchez’s inauguration as Prime Minister. He was elected to head a coalition between the PSOE and United We Can and with the votes in favor of 167 deputies. Two years later, there is no prospect that this Executive, for which no one was betting a euro at the end of 2019, could be broken or the end of the legislature could be precipitated before the end of 2023.
Fundamentally because the same cement that led to that agreement is maintained between different groups: the lack of alternative to that Government and the fear of those who make up that majority of a hypothetical electoral victory for PP and Vox with options to govern.
This cement has been strengthened even with the results of the surveys and has been used insistently by the Government since that investiture agreement in its negotiations with the parliamentary partners. First for key votes as those of the states of alarm, among others, then to carry out two General State Budgets and now in the perspective of the vital vote of the decree that contains the labor counter-reform agreement.
Different members of the Government explain that the studies they handle show great strength of Vox, to the point that if the PP has options to form a government with 176 seats, it would be thanks to the rise of the extreme right. This virtual reality is a powerful argument for negotiation with parliamentary partners.
Government sources claim to be busy weaving that agreement for validation, but admit that they maintain the tranquility of knowing that neither PNV, nor ERC, nor Más País, nor Bildu, nor Compromís are finally going to cause a defeat of the Executive that, in practice, would greatly weaken the future of the legislature. Happy and confident about the consequences that defeat would have and looking for a way out in regulatory developments of the agreement or in parallel issues, without touching the text of the decree or opening the melon of the processing as a bill. Similar to what happened with the Budgets and the pact with ERC on Netflix and the audiovisual law.
A problem with the EU
The vote is so vital and so transcendent that, precisely for that reason, there is a certain tranquility in the Government. A defeat in the validation would mean in the first place, according to the Executive, a serious problem with Brussels, because the arrival of European funds is conditional on a series of reforms in which the labor reform occupies a prominent place.
Europe expressly requires that this reform be consensual and as peaceful as possible. It is not a recommendation, but a conditionality of Brussels, no matter how hard the Government tries to avoid that term publicly. He does not avoid it in private and, in fact, the social agents remember a row between the Secretary General of the UGT, Pepe Álvarez, and the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, in a meeting in Moncloa, because the latter ardently defended that the labor reform was an inexcusable condition for the arrival of funds.
In fact, the list of conditionalities includes a mechanism by which other European states can request the suspension of the delivery of funds if the reforms are not made. Of course, would affect economic recovery on which Sánchez bases his electoral options for 2024 against the rights.
That is why the Government assumes that the two legitimacies will finally be reconciled: that of the Government’s social agreement with employers and unions and that of the parliamentary majority that must validate the decree. The opposite, they explain, would lead to an unthinkable horizon in which, for example, business projects would be paralyzed, the accounts would be out of balance and the Government would be extremely weakened.
Fear of an Executive formed by PP and Vox
This form of negotiation based on highlighting the lack of alternatives has long irritated the parliamentary partners, although they themselves end up admitting that, in a way, are kidnapped by the government. That if they let the Executive down, it is very likely that there will be a PP government supported by the extreme right.
And despite the irritation of the parties that usually vote with the Government, the significance of the vote It is the great asset of the Government and the explanation of its relative tranquility. The Government’s parliamentary partners often complain that Moncloa only turns to them at the last minute, when it needs their votes, without informing them beforehand, acting as if it had an absolute majority and did not need to complete majorities with more than five parties and with the confidence that no alternative.
When the Minister of the Presidency, Felix Bolaños, assured on Tuesday on National Radio that whoever votes against the labor reform agreement will have to explain why they do so, not only referring to the direct consequences. Not only did he demand that they explain why an agreement with unions and businessmen would be disallowed, but he also asked them to explain that they would shake a government for which there is no alternative but the right and the extreme right. That is the trump card that the Government admits.
A defeat of the Government would also call into question one of the main assets of the two years of the legislature: social peace. Executive sources explain that nothing has given them more positive photos in these two years than the agreements with unions and employers and they assure that everything would have been more difficult at this time with protests in the street.
The future of Yolanda Díaz
Another political effect is the one that has to do with the future of Yolanda Díaz, Vice President and Minister of Labor. Díaz is already promoting his electoral project, no matter how much she repeats in interviews that she does not want to be a candidate. It is only an argument to buy time, but it begins to provoke disbelief and mocking smiles in other sectors of the Government.
Díaz has achieved with this agreement with unions and employers to give continuity to its strategy of redefining your personal and political image, painting everything of transversality. With this strategy, it has managed to get large businessmen or bankers to speak well of it and not generate the rejection that could correspond to it by de facto leading the sector to the left of Congress.
He has achieved with his pragmatism and possibilism keep silent the sectors of United We Can that they would like another agreement and that they look the other way so as not to verify that the investiture pact has been breached in favor of the agreement with the businessmen.
An unthinkable defeat of the decree in Congress would reopen that struggle and perhaps give wings to the most radical sectors of United We Can. Two years after the inauguration, Pablo Iglesias, one of the essential protagonists of that day, is no longer in politics and many things have changed to the left of the PSOE. And there is a more stable government than it ventured then, although it is favored by the fear of the alternative already described.
The president and his vice president have guaranteed to reach the end of the legislature and it is not unreasonable to assume that if the rights do not add up in the next generals, the left coalition could be repeated. Among other things because in this scenario, again, the parliamentary partners of the Government would have to choose between the coalition government and the right and far right and they would return to the starting box.
So important would this parliamentary defeat be that Pablo Casado has not resisted the temptation to contribute his bit to make it happen. Although his argument points out that the counter-reform is minimal And despite the fact that there is an agreement with the CEOE -organization in theory close to its electorate-, Casado has not resisted the temptation to vote against, as he already did with the votes of the states of alarm.
The leader of the PP has stayed stranded in his “ashen” position that paints everything in black and speaks of a “state of bankruptcy” in the Spanish economy. His trump card would be the defeat of the decree, albeit with pro-independence and pro-ETA (according to his terminology), and then a triumph in Castilla y León and Andalusia, heading towards the municipal and European elections of 2023.
Sánchez is used to surviving in difficult situations, even grows when on wire. One day it will fall, as one of its ministers maintains, but this does not seem to be the moment, nor will this be the vote that will propitiate it.