January 21, 2021

The Government balances to maintain the support of Citizens and add ERC to the extension of the state of alarm

In the absence of the PNV confirming its support for the fifth extension of the state of alarm, ERC is no longer essential for it to succeed, but the Government wants to recover its ally from the investiture. Pedro Sánchez has reinforced the dialogue with the Catalan republicans and has even taken up the teams that negotiated at that time. The group led by Gabriel Rufián is now pressuring the Executive to eliminate the single command in the health management of the de-escalation after having claimed, together with Ciudadanos, a first victory over the Government, which he has been forced to give up his intention to keep the alarm until June 27 with a single vote. Both formations have mutual misgivings. Those of Inés Arrimadas threaten Sánchez with taking down the agreement if he makes transfers to the independence formation while the Government balances and maintains the negotiation with ERC.

Moncloa announced its agreement with Ciudadanos a couple of hours after the Council of Ministers approved the request for a new extension of the state of alarm. The document that the cabinet members received, according to various sources consulted, reflected the Government’s initial intention: to last until June 27 to cover practically the entire de-escalation process. “It was said to be open,” a minister told eldiario.es. Sánchez had already received the refusal of his potential allies to prolong the alarm for a month. Both Ciudadanos and ERC intended that, in any case, it be fifteen days, as until now. The Government, which initially considered the modification through an amendment in Congress, was forced to rectify. Finally, the request for an extension that was registered in Parliament three hours after the cabinet meeting ended, directly reflects the end at 00:00 on June 7, 20 days ahead of schedule. However, the Government maintains that it is “essential” to maintain the alarm, even if it is “gradual” and “asymmetrical”, until Spain reaches the end of the de-escalation process.

From there, Ciudadanos issued several warnings to Sánchez regarding his intention to negotiate with ERC. “There will be no negotiation table with ERC or separatists to dynamite equality between Spaniards,” he said in a statement. “Any concession made to the nationalists would be incompatible with this agreement: it is one way or the other,” spokesman Edmundo Bal stressed at a press conference, assuring that the party would not admit that “blackmailing should be put on the table nationalists or seek political returns. “

The recovery of the dialogue table between the Government and the Generalitat is one of the demands that ERC raises. Sánchez has already said that it is a purpose of the Government to retake it when the pandemic gives him room, but the words of Ciudadanos have worried those of Rufián, who want greater forcefulness in the commitment of the president than that expressed by the spokesperson, María Jesús Montero , and the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, who is part of the table of governments. Even so, ERC has maintained contacts with Sánchez’s team, which still awaits the definitive position of the Catalan republicans.

In ERC they are aware that the state of alarm is currently the only legal figure that allows restricting mobility between communities, so they are open to abstaining if the Government transfers the power of decision in the de-escalation to the autonomous governments. What the Catalan republicans propose is that the single health command disappear, which is the one that for now wants to keep the Government. In the extension request, it only maintains the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa, as delegated authority. Interior, Defense and Transportation lose the extraordinary powers that gave them supervisory capacity over the communities.

According to the text approved in the Council of Ministers, Health is responsible for “agreeing jointly” with the autonomies “on the modification, expansion or restriction of the units of action and the limitations regarding the freedom of movement of people, of the containment measures and those of insurance of goods, services, transport and supplies, in order to better adapt them to the evolution of the health emergency in each autonomous community. ” Until now, the government’s criteria has been that of co-governance and it has closed in band to let each community make decisions on its own. In fact, the PSOE rejected it this Monday. Guillermo Fernández Vara, who appeared as a socialist spokesman after Sánchez’s meeting with territorial leaders, called it “absurd” that the autonomous governments could act autonomously in the de-escalation.

But the negotiation of a legislative reform that would imply changes in several regulations -among them the one on Public Health- that allows to face a possible outbreak of the pandemic without having to assume the powers of the autonomous communities through alarm is one of the The tricks that Vice President Carmen Calvo used to try to convince parliamentary groups to support what they intended to be the last extension of the exceptional measure that was applied on March 14.

The negotiation has been so parallel that, minutes before the pact with Citizens was known, the Government and ERC were “finalizing” an agreement with conciliation measures through a benefit for families. In the list of requests is also that the municipalities can use the 20,000 million they have in surplus in expenses derived from the pandemic. The Executive is jealously guarding the progress of the talks to avoid derailing, but the spokeswoman, María Jesús Montero, stated that “the Government considers that it has the necessary support” for the extension to go ahead.

However, the formations keep the pressure to the end. PP, Vox, JxCat, CUP, Foro and UPN are insured in the ‘no’ block, while EH Bildu assures that abstention is not guaranteed by Sánchez’s pact with Ciudadanos. The government’s parliamentary allies have also hardened their position. Compromís deputy, Joan Baldoví, threatened not to support the extension if the financing of the communities is not improved and Más País has not yet confirmed its support for the Government. The deputy of the BNG, Néstor Rego, will remain, in principle, in abstention since “not all powers are returned to the communities and interprovincial mobility is not fixed.” The PRC has also called for “real co-governance” to support the extension.


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