Thursday, August 5

The internal balances and the renegotiation clause of the agreement shield the ministers of United We Can

A crisis can be a bad and difficult situation. Or an improvement over what there was. This is how the Spanish dictionaries collect it, and that is how a government reshuffle like the one that Pedro Sánchez undertook last Saturday, who in one fell swoop changed seven of his ministers, is usually faced. None of the affected departments is among those run by United We Can, despite the fact that the option was up in the air in the previous weeks, when speculation about changes in the Executive began. Pedro Sánchez and Yolanda Díaz spoke several times in recent weeks about the situation of the coalition, the challenges they face after the summer and the opposition’s strategy. They also discussed the government crisis, which was finally limited to the socialist sector.

United We can retain its five ministries in the remodeling of the Government

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United We can chose after an internal debate to keep its structure as it was. If he could have taken the opportunity to make changes, or if it made more sense to put up with it, only time will tell.

The first time that both leaders discussed in depth the situation of the Government and its future was in a meeting on June 28. Without an express request, according to sources from United Podemos consulted by, the secretary general of the PSOE raised the options on the table to the vice president, including the possibility of negotiating a reduction of the Cabinet, which meant eliminating portfolios of the socialist side, and also of the minority partner.

Díaz raised the debate at the Confederal Table of United We Can, the body that brings together the ministers of United We Can, as well as the spokesmen and leaders of the different parties and spaces that comprise it. The idea was to be prepared for what might come. There, different scenarios were assumed, but the thesis finally prevailed that United We Can is “underrepresented” in the current government. In other words, its five ministers do not correspond to the results achieved by the two members of the coalition in the November 2019 elections, either in votes received or in seats achieved.

Different sources consulted by agree that this is the position that was established long ago in the Confederal Table. Half a dozen members of that body deny that this last week a reduction in the presence of space in the Government was expressly proposed. That decision, they maintain, had already been made and so Yolanda Díaz reiterated it to Pedro Sánchez on Friday afternoon, when the president informed his partner that the next day the crisis was going to take place and how deep it would be.

In Unidos Podemos they maintain that by having less weight than their arithmetical value, if the president wants to reduce the ministerial structure, he can do so without having to eliminate the departments that corresponded to them in the negotiation at the end of 2019, in which they are also they vetoed names, certain portfolios, competitions and even budget. Another thing is that Sánchez would have proposed a large cut by the Cabinet, also forcing the partner to do so. That the Executive turned around. There they should have reconsidered the decision, they acknowledge from the confederal group.

That 2019 negotiation was led by the United Podemos part of the current Minister of Social Rights and Secretary General of Podemos, Ione Belarra. The resulting protocol includes a clause that shields de facto to the current ministers of your sector. Point number 19 of the document says that “in the event of restructuring (…) the number of managed areas will be maintained (…) and their relative weight in the government as a whole in the terms agreed upon at the beginning of the coalition.” And it adds: “In the event that the restructuring involves a substantial alteration of what was previously agreed, the parties will return to address the essential issues that arise in relation to said restructuring.”

In addition, as some leaders have recalled this Monday, from Díaz herself to the spokesperson of Podemos, Isa Serra, or the confederal spokesperson in Parliament, Pablo Echenique, they already faced a reshuffle in March, when Pablo Iglesias resigned as vice president to run for elections in Madrid. Then, Díaz took over from Iglesias and Belarra was promoted to minister.

That does not mean that no one thinks that some changes could be made within the representation of United We Can in the Government. Or who thinks that there are things that could be done better. The problem is precisely, according to the sources consulted, that the limited presence in the Executive makes any movement almost impossible because it would affect the balance of the coalition.

And that’s the third leg of the stool. United We Can is not a party, but a coalition. And the balances within it are not easy. The two smaller parties, Izquierda Unida and En Comú Podem, have a representative in the Government. Others, like the Green Alliance of Juantxo López de Uralde, not even. Podemos, which contributes the bulk of the vote and the number of deputies, has two. Yolanda Díaz, for her part, does not belong to any of them and her membership in the Communist Party of Spain is more testimonial than anything else, since she is not present in any of their bodies.

Reducing the portfolios would mean leaving out IU, whose general coordinator, Alberto Garzón, is the Minister of Consumption; already common, represented in Universities by Manuel Castells, which would open a crisis within the space. Social Rights and Equality are two ideological flags of United We Can, which makes it difficult to dispense with those portfolios, which are also occupied by Belarra herself and by Irene Montero, who has won important battles on the matter and has a powerful legislative agenda ahead. in addition to an undoubted political weight within its space. Obviously, no one thought of touching the vice president or her ministry, that of Labor, whose management has catapulted her as the best valued leader according to the CIS.

Of course, Díaz herself acknowledged this Monday on the SER network that it is not impossible for United We can assume changes in the second part of the legislature. But it will be United We, as a whole, who sets its times and rhythms.

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