It was the first time that Pedro Sánchez spoke publicly about the espionage of some 65 people linked to Catalan and Basque sovereignty, including the president of the Generalitat, Pere Aragonés, but also lawyers or activists, and there was some expectation as to whether he would announce a new gesture that attracts ERC, which threatens to withdraw its support for the coalition. But the president limited himself to promising the Government's willingness to "clarify the facts" and was convinced that the CNI -which everyone points to in the use of the Pegasus system in the surveillance of these people- acted within the framework of the law. In the government control session, he also took the opportunity to reach out to the Republicans to resume dialogue while his spokesman, Gabriel Rufián, pushed the PSOE to seek the support of the PP 24 hours before the decree of the plan of shock against the effects of war. “For now, ask Mr. Casero for the phone number,” said Rufián, referring to the conservative deputy who made a mistake in voting on the labor reform, allowing it to go ahead.
The Government and the PP resume dialogue on state issues
“We are talking about a serious issue. The Government has expressed its willingness to clarify the facts and to do so with transparency, accountability and abiding by legality”, were Sánchez's first words on espionage. Right after, he recalled that the entire legislature of the Government has shown a "firm will with dialogue": "That is what I would ask you to rebuild that trust and resume what has made this reunion possible in Catalonia."
“Of course the State has spied, is spying and will spy illegally. I know because I have been told by your Interior charges and the interior charges in the last 40 years in three investigation commissions [ha comenzado Rufián en referencia a las pesquisas parlamentarias sobre la Operación Kitchen]. The question is not whether they have been spied on, are being spied on or will be spied on; the question is if this time you ordered it. And if they ordered it, it is terribly serious, but if they did not order it, it is even more terribly serious because it means that you have not cleaned the sewers and when the sewers are not cleaned, they fill with rats and the rats eat everything.” Rufián warned the president that he "has an alternative" to the majority of the investiture: "The PP that is from the center, from the penitentiary center." Amid murmurs from the conservative caucus, the ERC spokesman summoned the president to make it clear to his voters and defended the dialogue, although he made it clear that relations with the Government are at a minimum, as the Government has also warned: "Our commitment to the word, dialogue and negotiation is granite because the word is the ideology of the normal, of the more versus the less, but for now ask Mr. Casero for the phone number”.
“We are going to render accounts”, Sánchez promised in his response in which he recalled the proposals that the Government has made to the Generalitat and that for the moment are insufficient for the parliamentary allies of the coalition: an “internal control” in the CNI, an investigation by the Ombudsman that Sánchez has assured is "unprecedented", the unblocking of the commission of reserved expenses to "share that information in a plural way" and the declassification of documentation if required by Justice. However, the president has assured that "everything that has been done by the CNI is scrupulously and rigorously adhering to the law."
The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, on whom the intelligence services organically depend, has also defended her actions and has been convinced that in the parliamentary commission "everything will come out" about espionage: "And maybe those who now give lessons they will have to shut up”, informs Iñigo Aduriz. That formula does not convince the allies of the Executive, as the PNV spokesman, Aitor Esteban, has made clear, who has said that "nothing is going to be solved in the secrets commission" for which he has summoned the Government to allow a commission of investigation and to declassify the documents.
Rufián threatens to reject the shock plan
Sánchez and Rufián's 'face to face' began, yes, with an ironic moment after the president referred to the ERC spokesman as "Abascal", with whom he had had the dialectical duel just before. "There are unforgivable lapses, this is it," the president apologized with a certain sarcasm before returning to the subject that he has recognized is "serious." “Let them spy on me, okay; but that they call me Abascal already annoys me”, Rufián joked when taking the floor.
The Government has been forced to announce measures on espionage given the political magnitude that the matter has taken after the Generalitat has decided to "restrict to a minimum" the relationship with the central Executive and that ERC and EH Bildu have threatened to withdraw support to the government. The first test of the seriousness of the situation will be this Thursday in the vote on the decree of the shock plan against the effects of the war in Ukraine. A few weeks ago in Moncloa they took it for granted that it would go ahead without the need to process it as a bill to include changes, but now it is up in the air and, to a large extent, it depends on the PP abstaining.
Sánchez's "low tone" in the control session was not enough for the Republican spokesman, who did not want to reveal the direction of the vote of his 13 deputies, but has warned that "the only language that the PSOE understands is to knock down the legislative agenda” and has increased the pressure for the creation of an investigative commission on espionage, which, according to what he has said, is “the minimum” for the Republicans to support the decree.
Those of Alberto Núñez Feijóo have not uncovered their letters and the spokeswoman, Cuca Gamarra, has taken advantage of her question to Sánchez to insist that she must include some of the measures that have been sent to her, such as the deflation of personal income tax. “I listen to him and I don't know if he proposes to do magic or tricks”, has been the response of the socialist. The Government maintains that the PP recipes are proposals "from the past" and defend that there are already "selective tax reductions" in the shock plan with the reduction of electricity taxes and also direct aid to the affected sectors. “Yesterday they complained that I have not asked for their support for the validation of the decree, because today I am asking you and I am asking the Chamber as a whole”, Sánchez finished.