Spain: Central Government Lashes Out At The Regions The death-throes of a government

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25/05/2016 by socialistfight

By The Waiter, 12th April 2016, Andalucía.

Metroscopia may 22 2016

22 May 10:44, Metroscopia Poll Suggests Boosts for Both PP and Unidos Podemos
A Metroscopia poll for El País published on Sunday suggested both the furthest right and furthest left options available to Spanish voters have received a boost following the decision by Podemos and United Left to present a joint list at the general election on June 26. The paper’s editorial criticised the results as “irresponsible” polarisation. Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party increased its estimated share of the vote to 29.9%, rising to a post-election high following the low in February at 24%. At the last election, the PP won 28.7% of the vote. Unidos Podemos (“United We Can”), the new Podemos-United Left list, was scored at 23.2% in its first joint showing, three full points clear of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) on 20.2%. Ciudadanos fell further to 15.5%. The two parties who made the only attempt to appoint a new Prime Minister during the spring—the PSOE and Ciudadanos—have both been trending downwards as the PP rises. Sunday’s Metroscopia joins El Español’s forecast in predicting that Unidos Podemos will overtake the PSOE to become the leading party on the Spanish left.

Twelve regional governments have been given fifteen days to cut their budgets mid-way through their financial year. In a letter to the twelve regions, the Treasury Minister, Cristobal Montoro threatened to freeze all payments to those regions that did not comply. Whilst some self-governing regions have kept within government imposed spending limits; the twelve singled out have all “to a greater or lesser degree shown an absolute rejection of central government plans” said the letter, according to the newspaper Europa Sur on Friday, April 8th.

The Finance Minister of the Balearic Islands, Catalina Cladera called it: “an attack on the islands” and called for a “rebellion”; the President of Aragon said: “he will not cut a penny more”. The Valencian President said: “he could see no possibility of an adjustment”; whilst the President of Cantabria called: “for a common front of the regions against the central government”, the Europa Sur reported.

In Andalucía the central government is demanding further cuts of 600 million Euros. The Andalusian President, Susana Diaz (PSOE) speaking before a meeting with the Treasury that Friday, said she would not implement any cuts “at least when they are ordered by an interim government”.

Last year’s national elections failed to produce an absolute majority, and none of the parties have been able to forge agreements in order to form a new government. There are just three more weeks for a new parliament to be inaugurated after which new elections will be called. The current Partido Populares (Tory) government is an acting government. It stands little chance of being part of a parliamentary pact, and stands even less chance of winning a majority should new elections be called.

Motoro claimed the measures were in response to warnings from the EU regarding the deficit, and to reduce “budgetary inequalities which had been the subject of several European Commission complaints”. However Susana Diaz speaking later that Friday in the Andalusian Parliament said: “If there is an ultimatum from the European Union let Motoro explain it to the Spanish people”. She added: “it would be impossible to implement the cuts with a budget already in place”.

In the same edition of Europa Sur, the Regional governments registered their opposition. The Vice President of Valencia, Monica Ottra was reported to have accused the government of threatening and castigating the regions; and the Catalan Economics Minister, Junqueras reproached the Treasury for “not even providing the amount Cataluña was expected to cut”.

The letter was received on the same day as a new round of negotiations to form a government began. The 24H news channel had it odds-on that a tri-partied pact would be reached before the deadline in three weeks. The broadcast confidently predicted the PSOE will form a government with Ciudadanos (C’s) and Podemos.

According to other news reports, Podemos is in a pact of its own. It has formed a block with Izquierda Unida (Left Unity) and the Catalan alliance, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya / Catalunya Sí (ERC-CATSI). Any government that includes Podemos will consequently include IU and the Catalans; a total of eighty seats in the 350 seat parliament.

Since the polls closed on December 20th Pedro Sanches, as leader of the Blairite, Social-Democratic PSOE, the party with the largest number of votes has been cast by the media as the President in waiting. But it’s Pablo Iglesias, leader of Podemos, who has been receiving most press attention. With Podemos coming third, the PSOE could form a government with or without C’s.

SpainElectMay2016

The PP’s desperate pre-election calls for an alliance with Ciudadanos have been ignored. The C’s cannot attempt a government with the very unpopular Popular Party (PP). Their combined 163 seats would face the 159 seats of Podemos and the PSOE with another eleven seats from IU and the Catalans. A PP-C’s pact could not rely on the remaining 17 Nationalist seats that will be at best hostile, if not joining the pact against them.

An election-night emboldened Iglesias demanded the Vice Presidency and five Podemos cabinet seats as a condition to any pact with the PSOE. He further demanded a cabinet seat be put aside for the leader of IU, which won two seats.

As negotiations to form a government stalled, the poder of Podemos started to wane. Iglesias entered the first round of meetings with the PSOE brandishing a list of twenty non-negotiable demands, to be agreed before discussions could begin. He looked every bit like Neville (peace-in-our-time) Chamberlin and just as confident.

Chief of these demands was that he would be Vice President along-side five Podemos ministers. But after several weeks and a second round of talks, Iglesias started to talk of a round table of ministers with no Vice Presidency.

In recent days the PSOE has turned its attention to Ciudadanos. Here too talks have centered on the role of Podemos in a new government. The possibility of a pact without Podemos would be politically unviable for PSOE leaders, who have a left moving membership with a renewed confidence.

Last week, TV channel Sexta’s news broadcast reported that whilst Ciudadanos “agreed in principle to a coalition with the PSOE and Podemos”, its last points of contention preventing an agreement were the last two demands in the document Iglesias so confidently waved at the media. These refer to Self-government for Valencia and an independence referendum for Cataluña.

On Friday 8th, following the meeting of the three parties Albert Rivera, Ciudadanos’ General Secretary was reported to have written on his twitter account: “Podemos wanted to destroy the agreements between Ciudadanos and the PSOE so to exclude it from the coalition. Podemos wanted to form a government with the PSOE alone with the backing of IU and the independentistas”.

Spain2

Over the last few months, Podemos’ twenty demands have all been reduced – all but two. Their electoral program on Public spending, taxation, and deficit reduction have all been revised in an attempt to entice the PSOE to go it alone with them and their Catalan allies. Podemos has dropped its demands to annul the Labour reforms of the last PP government; decreased its demands for a minimum wage from 950 Euros to 900 Euros per month; and dropped its demands for lower prescription charges.

What must Podemos supporters be thinking? This is the son of the Indignados protest movement. This was to be a new kind of party with “consensus policy making” and a European manifesto composed “collaboratively on-line by all members”.

Their 2014 European manifesto read as a confused and contradictory wish list with no mention of how their objectives were to be achieved.

Chief of Podemos’ demands in the Euro Election was the nationalization of the commanding heights. However the commanding heights have long been forgotten as it compromises for political scraps, seats and position. Podemos has come a long way from its European Manifesto: The Final Collaborative Document of the Programme:

“Recover public control in the strategic sectors of the economy; telecommunications, energy, food, transport, health and education, through the public acquisition of the majority interests in these sectors to ensure public control – or/and the creation of state companies to supply these basic services ensuring universal access”. p5. 

As Podemos (non-collaboratively) waters down its policies in order to make an electoral pact – (Note: It’s revised, 900 Euro/month minimum wage pledge now matches the PSOE’s and C’s) – will its supporters start rebelling against the leadership or return to Left Unity and the PSOE?

As the deadline to new elections nears, the Podemos leadership appears to be seeking power for the sake of power. Iglesias looks ever more the politician. Rather than implement a radical program, a government of change, the leadership of Podemos has chosen a rightward moving social democratic route. Their support can only weaken as they fall in-line with the austerity politics of Spain. The question is where will their supporters go?

The question for today however is: Why has the acting Treasury Department of the out-going PP government chosen this time to attack the regional governments, most but not all controlled by the PSOE.

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