Tuesday, May 24

The Government obtains a new support from the partners in Congress despite the tensions over the labor reform

The Government has once again achieved this Tuesday the support of the majority of the investiture and of the Budgets in the first Plenary Session of the Congress of Deputies of 2022 and in the Permanent Deputation that was held before the session. Regular partners of the Executive such as the PNV, ERC, EH Bildu, Compromis or Más País-Equo –to which Ciudadanos has joined– have allowed the validation of three new royal decrees and have also added their votes to those of PSOE and United We Can to curb the claims of the PP to hold extraordinary appearances by eight members of the Council of Ministers.

Labor reform tests coalition seams

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All this despite the growing tensions between these partners and the formations that make up the coalition government due to the discrepancies they maintain regarding the labor reform, which must be validated in another plenary session on February 3 and for which the Executive continues without have the necessary support to move forward.

This situation led the Compromis spokesman, Joan Baldoví, to issue a warning to the PSOE and United We Can on Tuesday: “We ask the Government to look at that majority that has allowed the decrees to be validated and to stop winking at Ciudadanos.” Baldoví has ​​thus referred to the fact that the Executive, which once again has had the support of its partners in Parliament, has initiated contacts with the party of Inés Arrimadas to try to obtain their support for the labor reform in the face of reluctance from some of the usual allies.

Although Baldoví has ​​not revealed whether his vote will be ‘yes’ or an abstention on the 3rd, he has made it clear that Compromis does not want to “stumble” the new labor legislation because, although “insufficient”, he considers that the text agreed between the Government, unions and employers represents an “advance” of rights for workers. “We don’t want to derail the reform, but the government has to make some progress,” he assured, thus demanding a gesture from the Executive towards other more reticent partners, such as the PNV, ERC and EH Bildu.

EH Bildu and ERC continue in the ‘no’ to the new labor framework

The spokesperson for this latest pro-independence formation, Mertxe Aizpurua, has once again insisted on these demands. In an interview in Radio Euskadithe leader of EH Bildu warned: “Either the agreement is modified or we will not endorse this labor reform. To approve this labor reform is to perpetuate Rajoy’s reform.”

Aizpurua has recognized that his group maintains “open channels of communication” with the Government. “But if our proposals are not included in the labor reform, the Government will say no to the prevalence of regional and provincial agreements. It will say no to recovering compensation for 45-day dismissal. It will say no to public control over EREs. And it will say yes to maintain the most damaging aspects of the PP reform. If it remains in its terms, it will be an agreement that will not repeal the PP labor reform,” he added. This is an opinion very similar to that held in recent days by ERC, which will not support the validation of the new labor framework if these changes are not introduced.

The leader of the PNV, Andoni Ortuzar, has assured, for his part, in an interview in Zero Wave that the Government “has to invest a little more in attending to those who it says are its preferred partners, it has to be a little more empathetic and put itself in their situation”. “They only remember the PNV’s responsibility when they need us, like now, and they want to force us to do something we don’t want,” he said, referring to the labor reform.

Ortuzar has asked the Executive “a little bit of imagination, flexibility and pedagogy” with the employers in order to carry out a labor reform in which regional agreements prevail, “an essential requirement” for the support of the PNV. In his opinion, “there is time to find other mechanisms with which, legally, sufficient guarantees” of protection are given to the “Basque collective bargaining framework”.

Debate on Garzón and the macro farms

Although these discrepancies on the labor reform marked the return of the deputies to Congress after the Christmas break, the four parties mentioned have decided to continue supporting the Executive in its legislative activity. The Permanent Delegation of the Congress of Deputies has rejected this Tuesday all the urgent appearances of members of the Government requested by the PP except that of the Minister of Health, Carolina Darias, who was already going to attend an extraordinary session of the Health Commission for own request.

After almost five hours of debate, the highest decision-making body of the Lower House outside the ordinary period has thus rejected, with the vote of the Government parties and their partners, the appearances of the first vice presidents, Nadia Calviño -in this case EH Bildu and ERC have distanced themselves from the investiture bloc and have supported the popular petition, although they have not succeeded in making it go ahead–, and third, Teresa Ribera, and the Ministers of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; Consumption; Treasury and Public Function; Justice and Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda.

Precisely the parties that support the Government, PSOE and United We Can, and also their parliamentary partners, have charged harshly against the PP and the other two right-wing parties – Vox and Ciudadanos – for fabricating a “hoax” around the declarations of the Minister of Consumption, Alberto Garzón, on the macro-farms, the justification that the popular had used to request his urgent appearance. It is a “lie” that, as those groups have recalled during the Permanent Council, has become one of the main props of the PP’s pre-campaign for the elections in Castilla y León on February 13.

But Casado’s party has not achieved sufficient support in the Permanent Delegation of Congress -the highest decision-making body of the chamber outside of ordinary periods, as is the case in January- to force the appearances of both Garzón and the Minister of Agriculture, Luis Planas, to explain the words of the former. Only Vox and Ciudadanos have supported them.

Aid for La Palma and VAT rebates

The Government has also managed to get its partners to validate three Royal Decree-Laws in plenary session on the modification of the Economic and Fiscal Regime of the Canary Islands, on complementary measures to repair the damage caused by the volcanic eruptions in La Palma and on measures urgent in the energy field.

This last norm, however branded as a “patch” by some spokesmen such as those of EH Bildu or PNV who have nevertheless supported its validation, extends the application of the 10% VAT on the electricity bill and the extraordinary discounts on the bonus for vulnerable consumers and maintains the 4% VAT on surgical masks. It also includes measures to promote the installation of recharging points for electric vehicles and self-consumption projects and modifies the intermediate deadlines for administrative procedures for the authorization of new renewable energy plants.