by Jack Wright
The parliamentary ratification of the landmark Labor Reform by the government of Social Democratic PSOE and its junior partner, the far-left Podemos, has been made possible by just one crucial vote. An error vote at that. It was cast by Alberto Casero, a deputy of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) that is vehemently against the Labor Reform.
The Reform was promulgated by the PSOE-Podemos coalition at a Council of Ministers as a Royal Decree (Law 21/2021) and, as such, came into effect on the 31st of December 2021. As Royal Decree, it has a 30-day validity during which period the Congress of Deputies (Lower Chamber of the Spanish parliament) must either ratify or overturn it by a majority of the voting deputies. That was what happened after it was put to vote last Thursday, 3 February 2022.
On that day, 335 deputies voted in the Chamber; 14 opted to vote long-distance. All in all, they were 349 deputies.
By a 175 yea-vote against 174 nays, Spain now finds itself equipped with a Labor Reform that, at the initiative of the Government, has been previously put together with a surprising consensus between the initiator, the two major trade unions (UGT and CCOO), and the business sector headed up by a statesmanlike Antonio Garamendi, President of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE). A no mean feat.
Before the voting, the minority PSOE-Podemos coalition government reckoned it could count on the slimmest of cross-party support. But a majority support just the same. Among the parties that promised to back the Decree was the Unión del Pueblo Navarro (UPN). However, on that fateful Thursday, two UPN deputies broke party discipline and voted to shoot down the Labor Reform. Bitter defeat stared the shellshocked Government in the face. That is, until PP’s Alberto Casero sent in his telematics vote supporting the Reform – by mistake!
Mistake votes do happen.
Once the voting was done, Maritxell Batet, a PSOE deputy and President of Congress, cut to the chase declaring that the Land Reform has been ratified.
The PP, outraged, is threatening to sue Bartet for not allowing Casero to rectify. At first, PP alleged that Casero’s mistake was due to an electronic malfunction. But when this didn’t hold water, it says it could be due to human error. Since none of these claims move Batet into letting Casero correct the mistake that tipped the very shaky balance in favor of the Royal Decree, PP wants to haul Batet before the Constitutional Tribunal no less.
The trouble with this move is that it could take a couple of years or so for the Tribunal’s verdict to come down. By then, the political panorama in Spain will have changed, possibly with PSOE’s hand strengthened as a result of the landmark Labor Reform which will be implemented even as the Constitutional Tribunal deliberates about the contention. It could tip the balance in PSOE’s favor in the next general election.
The President of PP, Pablo Casado, is accusing the coalition government, particularly PSOE, of sequestering democracy in Spain. PSOE, well aware that the Labor Reform is a banner accomplishment that could not but resonate positively with voters, is content with simply accusing PP of encouraging “transfuguismo (turncoats)” in allusion to the two UPN deputies.
PP is now contesting the result of the parliamentary voting before the Constitutional Tribunal. On the other hand, the letrados del Congreso (Congressional attorneys) say the vote cast by PP deputy Alberto Casero in favor of the Labor Reform is valid and irrevocable. 11 February 2022.
Featured image/Peggy_Marco, Pixabay
Congress of Deputies/www.congreso.es, PD
Partido Popular logo/Partido Popular via Wikipedia, PD
Martixell Batet/Pool Moncloa-Borja Puig de la Bellacasa, Gobierno de España, CCO
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