July 14, 2020

Government transfers in the state of alarm

Extending the state of alarm has become increasingly difficult for Pedro Sánchez at the same time that the curve of the COVID-19 was doubling in Spain. The practically expeditious path that he had in the first extension of the exceptional measure has been gradually complicated. First it was Vox that went to no and then the PP, after going through abstention, while the government’s parliamentary allies were distancing themselves forcing the coalition to pay an increasingly expensive price. To this the Executive attributes the pact with EH Bildu that caused the umpteenth controversy and a great discomfort in the employers, which forced a rectification after a call to the vice president economic, Nadia Calviño.

The complexity of obtaining support in a sixth extension of the state of alarm led the Government to question it, despite the fact that the de-escalation plan makes it mandatory – according to the arguments that the Executive has hitherto given – to maintain it at least until July 5, which is the first date in which regions such as the Community of Madrid, the Barcelona metropolitan area or practically all of Castilla y León could reach the “new normal” in which interprovincial mobility is already foreseen. Sánchez’s cabinet has always maintained that the alarm is the only legal instrument that allows him to restrict mobility within Spain.

So Moncloa has resumed contacts with political groups to try a “last extension to end the de-escalation,” according to government sources. But has issued a warning: “We transmitted to you that our conversation was going to be exclusively about the elements that have to do with the health of citizens.” This is how the spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, pronounced herself in the middle of the the agreement with EH Bildu, which included two issues that were not closely related to the pandemic: the repeal of the labor reform before the extraordinary measures approved by COVID-19 expire and the ability to expand spending by local, regional and regional entities “to alleviate the effects” of the virus.

Despite the fact that these two measures – the repeal of the labor reform and the spending rule – figure in the agreement of the coalition program, Sánchez reproached that the position of no by the PP “makes the spigot open in the dialogue between the Government of Spain and different parliamentary groups that have nothing to do with the health emergency and they have nothing to do with public health either, they have to do with legislative commitments, investiture commitments or financing proposals, approval or repeal of laws, etc. ”

Still, the government’s spirit to carry out the sixth extension has improved after reaching an agreement with the PNV through which the minimum vital income management approved this Friday is transferred to the Basque Country. The decision comes in the middle of negotiating the alarm and after the left abertzale a point will be scored at the gates of the elections. The agreement of PSOE, Unidas Podemos and EH Bildu did not sit well with Basque nationalists, used to being the negotiating force par excellence in Madrid.

“This government has a stable legislative agreement with the PNV. That has not been modified. Many parts of the agreements that were signed must be developed in the coming months. That the PNV revises the texts is part of the way of behaving and to come from this Government, which tries to inform and seek the opinion of one of our strongest alliances, “Montero said at the press conference after the Council of Ministers.

However, the PNV had already extracted from Sánchez other counterparties in the negotiation of the previous extensions. One of them was Moncloa’s commitment to facilitate the holding of the Basque elections on July 12, despite the exceptional situation that the country is going through. It was also the pressure of the Basque nationalists in exchange for their yes that forced the “co-governance” of the de-escalation process. They now admit that a new, smoother and nonhomogeneous alarm state “could be reasonably well formulated.” Sánchez’s aim is to raise the alarm asymmetrically.

For his part, Citizens has become by surprise an essential ally for the goverment. Inés Arrimadas remained in the yes when Pablo Casado chose to abstain and managed to extract from the president the commitment that some of the social and economic measures approved during the health emergency would extend beyond the state of alarm, among them the ERTE.

In the second negotiation, the Government, which he was forced to back down on his initial intention to approve a 34-day extension, accepted the request of Citizens for an additional extension of one month without interest of delay for the moratorium of taxes (VAT, Personal Income Tax, Companies) to the taxpayers affected by the negative impact of the coronavirus as well as a commitment to disassociate themselves from the state of The extraordinary benefit due to the cessation of activity of the self-employed alarms. It was also guaranteed that Congress will continue at full capacity in the month of July.

In its communiqué, the Arrimadas party assured that, thanks to Ciudadanos, “there will be no negotiation table with the ERC or the separatists to dynamite equality between Spaniards.” However, the Government denied it by guaranteeing that the dialogue table with the Generalitat would be reactivated when the health emergency gave a break.

In addition to setting a horizon for the negotiating table between governments, the Catalan republicans have put three conditions to return to abstention: conciliation measures so that single-parent families can combine work and school closure, unlock the surplus of the municipalities and a new law of public health that allows to face a possible outbreak. However, ERC does not see in Sánchez any intention to accept these requests and regain their support.

The vote against the group led by Gabriel Rufián forced the government to strengthen ties with its parliamentary ally through several meetings of the investiture negotiating teams, but this time it did not bear fruit. Given this situation and with Casado’s refusal to facilitate the maintenance of the state of alarm, several ministers had to roll up their sleeves to negotiate with the smaller groups.

It was then that the Canary Coalition went from abstention to yes, although it was not decisive. Ana Oramas, who was contacted by José Luis Ábalos, achieved Moncloa’s commitment to prolong the ERTE of the Canary tourism sector. A specific law decree is now being negotiated with the Ministries of Labor and Social Security.

In the first extensions of the state of alarm, a general criticism of the Government by the groups and the autonomous communities was the lack of dialogue. Sánchez defended himself with the argument that many proposals were later reflected in the measures he approved. This was the case, for example, in the case of the paralysis of non-essential economic activity, which unanimously defended the parliamentary left and that Sánchez announced shortly after, despite having ruled it out in Congress, linking it to the proximity of Holy Week . Also in more concrete measures proposed by groups, such as Más País or ERC, such as the moratorium or suspension of the payment of mortgages and rents or the protection of women victims of sexist violence through a housing alternative.


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