After more than a month without activity due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Senate has decided to follow in the footsteps of Congress and resume its parliamentary activity. Next week will take place the first session of control to the Government since the state of alarm was decreed, on March 14, which nevertheless will not attend the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, who has alleged “agenda issues” . It will be Tuesday.
Two days later, on Thursday the 30th, the meeting of the General Commission of Autonomies will also be held, which will focus on COVID-19 and in which the coordination and unity between the Executive and the autonomous communities in the management of the epidemic, after in the last days different discrepancies have been evidenced, for example, when accounting for contagions and deaths from coronavirus.
The PP expects these two appointments as a new opportunity to criticize the management of the Government and its team of experts, while continues to tighten the rope before the meeting of its leader, Pablo Casado, with Sánchez next Monday, in which it will be glimpsed if the conservative leader finally joins the pacts for “reconstruction” raised by the chief executive.
Vox only has two representatives in the Senate who are integrated into the Mixed Group, so it will hardly achieve a minimal role with the return to the activity of the Upper House. However, the far-right formation has already lashed out at Sánchez for not attending the control session on Tuesday.
Previously, the PP spokesman in the Senate, Javier Maroto, was quick this week to accuse the Chief Executive of “hiding” from the opposition and of letting the leading role fall to the second vice president, Pablo Iglesias, branded by the popular representative as “the problematic vice-president of the Government”, in the absence of the first vice-president, Carmen Calvo, who has just been released from her quarantine after her coronavirus infection.
📰 @JavierMaroto: “Sánchez does not attend the control session of the @Senadoesp during the entire pandemic, it is hidden ”
📍 Today, in statements to the media after the Board of Spokespersonshttps://t.co/xoyt7LOq6g
– PP Senate 🇪🇸 (@PPSenado) April 14, 2020
“The most relevant question that we would ask Pedro Sánchez is if he can say loudly and clearly that he has not lied to citizens in this crisis and if he also believes that there is nothing to regret, or ask for forgiveness of anything,” said Maroto Tuesday through a message on his Twitter profile.
Also the spokesperson for Ciudadanos, Lorena Roldán, has criticized the absence of the Prime Minister and that the majority of the chamber has rejected the request of his group to hold a monographic plenary session on COVID-19. “It is a real outrage that limits the rights of the opposition, so we have asked the House for a report with the precedents that the secretary general has already formulated and that President Pilar Llop ignored.”
At that plenary session on Tuesday, the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, will also be missing due to “scheduling problems” and the Minister for Equality, Irene Montero, who is still on leave due to the coronavirus. As in Congress, the Senate Table has also asked groups to minimize the presence of their representatives and has recommended that senators who reside in Madrid or are in the capital preferably come to avoid displacement as much as possible.
Those senators who live outside the capital and must attend the plenary session to ask the government a question, as happens, for example, to the Valencian Carles Mulet, from Comprimís, will not only serve their senator card to travel to the capital They will also have to carry a ‘safe-conduct’ that will be drawn up by the camera itself and that they must teach the authorities if required.
The control session will begin at four in the afternoon with questions to the ministers. Then there will be three interpellations that will be formulated by the Popular Group, the Mixed Group and the Confederal Left, respectively.
The first to intervene will be the PP spokesman, Javier Maroto, who will address the Minister of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Nadia Calviño, to tell him what proposals the Government plans to support and which ones he will reject “among all those formulated by the Popular Party to avoid the negative effects that the COVID-19 pandemic will cause on the economy. ”
Other popular senators will send their questions to the Minister of Health, Salvador Illa. Antonio Román will ask you to explain “why Spain is one of the countries with the most toilets infected by SARSCoV-2”. And her fellow member Salomé Pradas will be interested “in the date set by the Ministry of Health so that the massive tests for the detection of the coronavirus reach the population after the fiasco of the purchase of the defective tests from China.”
The also PP senator Ana Camins will ask Illa about “how many are those who have died from coronavirus without having been tested for COVID-19.” And the Extremaduran Carlos Floriano expects the Interior Minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska to clarify if “the Ministry of the Interior continues to maintain that the Government has nothing to regret in its management of the coronavirus crisis.”
The quota of the PP will be completed with the question of Senator David Erguido, who will address the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, to find out “if he is going to defend the general interest of Spain in the coronavirus crisis before the International Organizations” .
At the request of PP and PNV, the aforementioned General Commission of the Autonomous Communities will take place on Thursday, which will focus on debating the management of the coronavirus crisis carried out by the different administrations. The last time this parliamentary body met was in January 2017 when former Deputy President of the Government Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría appeared to report on the agreements of the VI Conference of Presidents that had just been held in the Upper House.
The debate will take place after different sectors have denounced the lack of coordination between the Government and the autonomous communities when facing the health emergency, especially when it comes to providing the data on those infected and deceased by COVID-19. The Government of Sánchez has accommodated in recent days different complaints from the regional presidents, as evidenced during the telematic meetings they hold each week.
The autonomous communities plan to send high-level representatives to that commission of the Senate. In some cases the autonomous presidents themselves will attend and, in others, those in charge of confronting the Government will be the Health advisers.
The call of the commission, to which the PSOE resisted, was very well received by the rest of the groups. The spokeswoman for the Confederal Left in the Senate, Pilar González – senator of Adelante Andalucía – affirms in statements to eldiario.es that the meeting will undoubtedly be positive. First, because it will serve to “reactivate the role of the Senate, which until now has maintained a low profile during the health crisis”, although it believes that it was “by a criterion of prudence” in the face of the unexpected situation generated by the pandemic. And also because “it is the most appropriate scenario for a common pooling of actions against the pandemic.”
“We must park the reproaches in the media and try to review the measures adopted and coordinate others to face the crisis,” she adds, while showing hope that the debate “has the level that all citizens expect. ”
Mirella Cortés, spokesperson for ERC-Bildu, regrets that “the communication of the crisis by the PSOE with parliamentary groups throughout these weeks has been practically non-existent.” “We have not seen a clear will to share decisions about how the camera works.”
In addition, he adds that he does not understand or share “the lack of will of the Chamber to carry out more parliamentary work electronically.” His group has not refused to call plenary sessions or sessions of the Commission, but considers it necessary “that they be done electronically.” “Following the line of the Government of the Generalitat, we believe that it is irresponsible for people from all over the State, in full confinement, to move to Madrid.”
Lorena Roldán, spokesperson for Ciudadanos in the Upper House, also stresses the importance of the Senate working again as Congress is doing, but without the need to attend the debates in person. “Obviously, it is good that the Commission is convened as it would also be if the Conference of Presidents is held.”
It is important that all parliamentary activity be resumed and all forums where the Government reports and is accountable, because it is facing the crisis with a worrying opacity. They have closed the Transparency portal, they refuse to inform about the providers of medical supplies, they did not accept questions without prior censorship and even the CIS has proposed to prohibit the media from reporting on the pandemic, “he said.