DAREDEVIL PEDRO SÁNCHEZ: HOW TO FISH IN THE TROUBLED WATERS OF THE PARLIAMENT (Part 1)

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Pedro Sánchez is applauded, and returns the applause, on  his investiture as Prime Minister on
16 November 2023 at the plenary session of the Congress of the Deputies,
Madrid, Spain/Pool Moncloa-Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

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Introduction by Guidepost

Alberto Nuñez Feijoo: His party won the highest number of votes in the general elections but he failed to gain enough parliamentary votes to be invested President of the Government

On Tuesday, 22 August 2023, Spain’s King Felipe VI nominated the leader of the conservative People’s Party (PP), Alberto Nunez Feijoo, for prime minister (aka president or head of government). He was the king’s first choice for a candidate on the grounds that Feijoo’s party obtained the highest number of votes equivalent to 137 seats in the Congress of Deputies after the general elections held on Sunday, 23 July 2023, to elect the 15th Cortes Generales (Spanish Parliament). Accordingly, Feijoo submitted himself to a parliamentary vote of confidence. At the first voting for his investiture, Feijoo failed to win the necessary support of the absolute majority of the deputies (176) so the voting had to proceed to the second and final round wherein a simple majority of votes would suffice to invest the candidate. Feijoo failed that too.

King Felipe VI shakes hands with Acting President of Government Pedro Sánchez on an earlier occasion in 2023/Ministry of the Presidency

On the 2nd of October, Felipe VI tasked Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, whose party, the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (in English, the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party), garnered the second highest number of votes in the general elections, gaining 121 parliamentary seats. Sánchez thus had the best chance to secure majority support in the Congress of Deputies following Feijoo’s failed attempt. After arduous, prolonged and controversial negotiations with the thirteen political parties who have parliamentary representations, to enlist their support, most notably from the nationalist and separatist parties, and excepting Feijoo’s party and the Popular Party’s extreme right coalition partner in several towns, provincial capitals and provinces, Vox, Sánchez expounded the program of his government if he won the investiture. On the 16th of November, after the two-day plenary session of investiture punctuated every so often by shocking moments of acrimony not unmixed with below-the-belt personal attacks, the voting came.

Sánchez defends his program before the plenary session of Congress — successfully, as it turns out/Pool Moncloa-Fernando Calvo, rotated

It took Sánchez just one round to get himself invested as Prime Minister, winning 179 parliamentary votes, three in excess of the absolute majority.

Today, Sanchez, erstwhile Acting Prime Minister, is the new Prime Minister/President of the Government of Spain.
(For the swearing-in of Sánchez new government: https://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/
presidente/actividades/Paginas/2023/211123-sanchez-acto-toma-posesion-ministros-as.aspx
)

See below for his program for government per the “President’s News“, 15 November 2023, sourced from La Moncloa Gobierno de España.

 



PEDRO SÁNCHEZ PROPOSES A GOVERNMENT THAT WILL GIVE SPAIN “FOUR MORE YEARS OF STABILITY, COEXISTENCE AND PROGRESS”

Text by the Ministry of the Presidency, Pool Moncloa

In the opening speech of the investiture debate, he pointed out that these transformations provoke uncertainty and a feeling of defencelessness among citizens, and feed reactionary political expressions that can end up undermining the foundations of democracy. Faced with these prospects, Pedro Sánchez has opted for progress, for the consolidation of the welfare state and for the extension of the gains achieved in recent years, such as dignity in the workplace, the empowerment of women, respect for sexual diversity and the integration of migrants.

The candidate affirmed that only a progressive government in Spain is capable of stopping the dismantling of constitutional and democratic values and the cuts in social achievements that “the reactionary right” is applying in some autonomous communities. “In this session [of investiture], it is up to us to choose between opening the door to this movement or stopping it in its tracks by erecting a wall of democracy, coexistence and tolerance,” he said.

Sánchez defended the “path of progress and advancement”, ruled out “the politics of insults, hatred and tension” and called for a halt to “climate denialism, classism, sexism and xenophobia. I am here to propose that we give Spain four more years of stability, coexistence and progress, and that we say no to reactionaries whose only aim is regression and confrontation”, he remarked.

The acting president stressed that, in the last four years, Spain has become a more prosperous, just and respected country, and one that offers more opportunities because the measures put in place by the progressive coalition have worked, and he asked for the support of the legislative chamber to continue along the same path.

FULL EMPLOYMENT AND INCREASED PURCHASING POWER

The acting President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, greets the President of the Lower House of Congress (Speaker of the House) Francina Armengol before going up to the rostrum to begin his speech in the first session of the debate on his investiture  as a candidate for the Presidency | Pool Moncloa-Fernando Calvo

Throughout his speech, Pedro Sánchez detailed the main objectives his government will have if it wins the confidence of the deputies.

The first of these “eight commitments” to citizens is to complete the modernisation begun during the last legislature, transforming the productive fabric into a green and digital one: “We will redouble our commitment to innovation, training and digitalisation, and we will deploy €115 billion of European funds to help this process of change reach all our SMEs and the self-employed”.

The goal is to have more and better jobs by”reaching full employment”, guaranteeing by law that the Minimum Interprofessional Wage (SMI) will always be 60% of the average wage and that the working week will be reduced to 37.5 hours.

The Government will also adopt initiatives to grow “the purchasing power of Spaniards.”, It will extend the lowering of VAT on food until June 2024; it will raise the income threshold to €38 billion to qualify for the mortgage relief, and public transport will be free from 1 January for all minors, young people and the unemployed.

IMPROVING CITIZENS’ LIVES

[Sánchez’s] second commitment is to “continue strengthening the welfare state to improve people’s lives, starting with the National Health System”. In this area, Sánchez announced the implementation, with the regional governments that so wish, of a plan to drastically reduce waiting lists, and the reinforcement of primary care and a State Pact for Mental Health so that in Spain “there is not a single citizen who needs psychological help and cannot get it”.

If elected, Sánchez promises that his government will be a bastion of the welfare state/Gerd Altmann, Pixabay, edited.

The candidate defended quality public education, with better conditions for teachers and more grants; “cutting-edge science”, more funding for research centres and a Statute for Teaching and Research Staff, and “free and accessible culture for all”, per a Law on Cultural Rights.

REVALUATION OF PENSIONS AND BETTER CARE FOR DEPENDENTS

To “safeguard the dignity and welfare of our elderly”, Sánchez announced that pensions will continue to be revalued in line with the CPI, and the resources earmarked for dependency will be increased to achieve a higher quality, more personalised care model that prioritises home care. In addition, €5 billion will be allocated annually to the pension reserve fund “so that today’s workers will have decent pensions when they retire”.

Moreover, the Minimum Vital Income will be strengthened, simplifying access requirements. A new model of face-to-face attention to citizens will be established with flexible opening hours and without mandatory appointments. A maximum of 30 days will be set by law for the receipt of benefits such as dependency allowances.

To strengthen the welfare state and, at the same time, reduce the public deficit, Sánchez advocates efficient administration, combating the underground economy and tax evasion, increasing the progressivity of Personal Income Tax and guaranteeing an effective minimum of 15% in Corporate Tax.

FACILITATING ACCESS TO HOUSING

The third priority [of Sánchez’s program] is to improve access to housing, “one of the biggest problems facing many citizens, especially young people”, said the candidate for the presidency of the government. To this end, the Executive’s action must be “to help tenants and small landlords”.

Accordingly, Sánchez announced the increase in the rental voucher, the creation of a line of guarantees that will allow them to cover up to 20% of the mortgage and the provision of 183,000 public housing units for affordable rent. As for middle- and working-class homeowners who make housing their main savings instrument or safety net, help will be made available in refurbishing and modernising their homes through the legal framework. There will be tax incentives for renting.

A GREEN TRANSITION THAT LEAVES NO ONE BEHIND

“A green transition that protects our nature and generates wealth and new opportunities”/Sujalparab, CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

As the fourth priority of the legislature, Pedro Sánchez has pointed to a green transition “that helps mitigate climate change, protects our nature and generates wealth and new opportunities throughout the territory”.

The candidate proposes favouring energy communities and tripling the installed capacity of self-consumption so that, by the end of this decade, half of all energy consumed in Spain will come from renewable sources. He also advocated re-establishing the National Energy Commission to guarantee the better functioning of the energy system, modernising hydrological infrastructures, promoting ecological and regenerative agriculture, approving a Family Farming Law and deploying a National Food Strategy for Spain.

REAL EQUALITY AND THE FIGHT AGAINST SEX-BASED VIOLENCE

Ensuring that Spain continues to be a benchmark for equality is Pedro Sánchez’s fifth priority, to which effect he declared that “improving women’s lives means achieving full and effective equality”. To correct persisting inequalities, he has advanced the approval of a Law on Parity Representation, the extension of paternity and maternity leave to 20 weeks, the universalisation of public education from the age of two and the granting of the same level of protection to single-parent families with two children as that enjoyed by large families.

“Full and effective equality”/Susan-lud4esm–Susan Cipriano, Pixabay, edited.

In addition, the candidate has pledged to seek a State Pact for LGTBI people, which he considers “more necessary than ever”.

Sánchez also stressed the need to continue combating gender violence. As regards child sexual abuse, the legal framework will be strengthened to ensure that civil liability is not time-barred; a state fund will be set up for the payment of aid and compensation to victims; and, following the Ombudsman’s recommendations, the accompaniment and supervision mechanisms of the Law for the Integral Protection of Children and Adolescents will be strengthened

Unofficial translation of the original text in Spanish

Continued on “Daredevil Pedro Sánchez: How to Win in a Turbulent Parliament (Part2)”