Saturday, May 21

Pandemic wear and friction with Revilla: the PSOE changes the faces of its advisers in Cantabria one year before the elections

From the inauguration of the Government of Cantabria in 2019 to the current photo of the bipartisan PRC-PSOE headed by Miguel Ángel Revilla (PRC) there is a substantial change that has occurred mainly in the last month. Areas as relevant as Health, Economy and Finance or Employment and Social Policies, all of them in socialist hands, do not have the same visible faces as then, and their replacements in such a short space of time have shaken the heart of the regional Executive and have aroused criticism from the opposition with qualifications towards the Government such as that it is “broken”, “in decomposition” or that “it is falling apart”.

And it is that the wear and tear caused by the management of the pandemic, the associated economic crisis and the frictions with the regionalist partner, mainly focused on President Revilla, have caused an authentic revolution in the socialist wing of the Cantabrian Government, with the recent resignations of the counselor of Health a month ago and of the Minister of Economy and Finance, which occurred this week, causing an earthquake that has collaterally affected Employment and Social Policies, whose head has been forced to change portfolios.

Thus, of the four ministries that the PSOE has for the distribution of power of the coalition with the PRC in the regional Executive, only the vice president and in turn head of Universities, Equality, Culture and Sports, in addition to secretary general of the Socialists Cantabrian, Pablo Zuloaga, has held the position since the mandate began at the beginning of the legislature.

Miguel Rodríguez, the pandemic counselor who has been in charge of Cantabrian Health during the toughest two years of the health crisis, submitted his resignation alleging “personal reasons”, but at the same time acknowledging “discrepancies” within the Executive: “ It has been a pot that fills up and explodes”, he assured before handing over the baton to the new owner, Raúl Pesquera.

Rodríguez has had the task of combining the economy and restrictions due to COVID for two years, and at times openly clashed with Revilla in that balance for not opening his hand to economic activity as much as the regionalist leader would have liked. But the clash that was the last straw and triggered his resignation was with the head of Economy and Finance, his party colleague María Sánchez (PSOE).

“I do not see health as a spending center, I see it as an investment in citizens and I think the counselor sees it differently,” he assured, after explaining that he came to consider his departure as a result of the approval of the Budgets of Cantabria for 2022 for not having taken enough “into consideration” his department, which continued to manage the pandemic and with great investment needs to reinforce the public system at the most critical moments.

With these statements, María Sánchez was once again the focus of controversy in a government where she already had detractors as a result of some statements that led to public disagreements with Revilla himself. It did not sit well with the president or the regionalist partners who questioned the receipt of European funds for major projects such as the La Pasiega industrial estate or the Proton Therapy Unit of the Marqués de Valdecilla University Hospital in Santander due to the strict deadlines and requirements imposed the European Union.

The regionalist leader censored his statements and members of the Executive internally asked Zuloaga to dismiss the minister, who was removed from her duties as government spokesperson in the absence of the vice president, but he protected his minister.

However, later, other statements by the head of Economy and Finance about the aforementioned ‘star’ projects of the regional government, which were left out of European funds and now depend on the will of the State, led to another scuffle and another sharp response by part of Revilla: “The financing by the Government of Spain is negotiated by the president, not her,” he said after an appearance by Sánchez in Parliament in which he questioned the formula chosen to pay for these infrastructures.

Thus, the head of Economy was already on the tightrope, and the announcement of a tax reduction to compensate for inflation due to the war in Ukraine that was not endorsed by the technicians of her department and apparently without consensus with the rest of the members of the Cabinet It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the final push to the exit door.

Sánchez presented his resignation this week and the counselor who until then had been in charge of Employment and Social Policies, Ana Belén Álvarez (PSOE), assumed his powers. In this way, Álvarez has taken office this Wednesday as head of Economy and Finance, and her department has passed into the hands of what had been her general director of Housing, Eugenia Gómez de Diego (PSOE).

cohesion and unity

Despite all these internal scuffles, Revilla has taken advantage of the inauguration of the new councilors to defend the “good health” of the coalition between the PSOE and the PRC, which faces the last year of their second legislature at the head of the regional bipartisan : “I want to value the cohesion of the Government, which is perfectly united and at no time have there been power vacuums”, highlighted the Cantabrian president, who has assessed as “quite usual” the change of faces after a legislature “so hard”.

The vice president has spoken along the same lines, considering that the bipartisan is facing “a particularly important moment for the future of Cantabria.” In this sense, Zuloaga recalled that the current legislature is “comparable to very few”, since it has been marked by the health and economic crisis, now aggravated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Now we are deciding how to face the next months of this legislature, taking into account that we are risking the success in the management of European funds and the development of each and every one of the policies that are developed from each of the ministries” , has warned the socialist leader, who faces this final stretch before the elections with numerous changes in his environment after revalidating the leadership at the head of his party.

“resounding failure”

However, all these changes in such a short period of time have given fuel to the opposition, which is not shy about describing the management of the bipartisan PRC-PSOE as a “resounding failure”. This has been done by the president of the Cantabrian PP, María José Sáenz de Buruaga, for whom Revilla maintains Cantabria in “a permanent political and economic crisis.”

“His 2019 election to embrace the PSOE again has been a resounding failure that is seriously harming citizens,” said Buruaga in relation to the third remodeling of the Government of Cantabria in this legislature, which has become effective this week. hastily before the festive bridge. “Revilla is not even capable of guaranteeing stability and governability and presides over an ineffective government without a compass, which leads Cantabria adrift”, the PP leader concluded.