The Day in Spain #16

Politics

Politics

PP and Ciudadanos kick off negotiations, find differences in labor regulations

Conservative PP and liberal Ciudadanos have formally met today, starting the talks to confirm Ciudadanos‘ support to Rajoy’s re-election next 30 and 31 August in the confidence debate. The two right-wing parties have found many similarities in their proposals, but some differences in labour policies, the most salient being the single contract policy proposed by Albert Rivera’s party. Worker’s insurance and benefits for low salaries are among the other measures that Rajoy’s negotiators are not keen on.

Explained:

The single contract policy was one of Ciudadanos flagship proposals during the campaign before the elections on 20 December and 26 June (although they changed the name of the contract in the most recent one). The model proposes eliminating temporary contracts and making them all permanent, but making it easier to fire an employee in the first few years of work in a company.

Ciudadanos argues that this model will eliminate the gap between temporary and permanent workers, as companies now can’t hire a worker temporarily for more than 24 months in a period of 30 months. In other words, if you work for a Spanish company for 2 years in a period of two and a half years, that company is legally obliged to hire you permanently. This would theoretically push businesses to not renew contracts beyond those two years. The new model would bridge that gap, including a progressive compensatory scale that would make it harder to fire employees who had been longer at the company.

Arguably, this is illegal anyway, because a temporary contract must respond to a temporary reason. So a worker hired temporarily must be hired to fulfill a task that is temporary in nature. The left argues that present laws should be enforced instead of setting up new regulations, and force companies to hire employees premanently if the role is not temporary. But those aren’t, most likely, Rajoy’s concerns.

Establishing a benefit for low salary employees was another of C’s main proposals during the two recent electoral campaigns. They propose that the government supplements workers on the minimum wage or slightly above it, to fight poverty in Spain (which is worryingly growing).

It hasn’t been disclosed why the People’s Party has reservations about these measures.

Remember that Ciudadanos and PP are negotiating to ensure the support of the former’s 32 MPs to Rajoy’s re-election. Even with those 32 votes (and Coalición Canaria‘s single vote, which seems to be about to announce support to the incumbent PM), Rajoy would still need PSOE‘s abstention.

The PM is elected by the parliament in a two-round vote after a confidence debate. In the first round, the candidate nominated by the King (in this case, Mariano Rajoy), needs an absolute majority of votes (that is, 176 seats). If he fails, a second round takes place 48 hours later, and that time, the candidate only needs a simple majority (more ‘Yes’ than ‘No’ votes).

At the moment, Rajoy has secured 138 ‘Yes’ votes (137 from his own party and one from Coalición Canaria). He has also secured Ciudadanos abstention in the second round, so he would need to make sure that ‘No’ votes don’t amount to more than 137. Now, if he manages to change Ciudadanos abstention to a ‘Yes’ vote, he would be at 170 seats, and would put all the pressure onto PSOE.

Political talk: PSOE insists on “no” vote and says there are no alternative talks

Socialist leaders Meritxell Batet and Patxi López said today, in different interviews, that their party is not going to change its “No” vote to a Rajoy’s re-election to an abstention. López has added that there isn’t any request to summon the Federal Committe to discuss reconsidering the vote.

Óscar López, spokesman of the socialists in the Senate, said that there are no talks with Podemos to explore the possibility of an alternative government with Catalan nationalist support.

Explained:

This is becoming a recurring piece of news. There isn’t a day without a PSOE representative coming out to say that they won’t reconsider changing their vote. This is, obviously, because journalists ask them daily, but still, food for thought.

Anyway, explaining the news. PSOE is under heavy pressure from Ciudadanos and PP to change their vote in Rajoy’s confidence debate to an abstention. This is necessary to break the deadlock and avoid a third round of elections (which would take place on Christmas Day!). The deadlock is extremely unpopular at the moment, and PP and Ciudadanos are portraying PSOE as the culprit.

The PM is elected by the parliament in a two-round vote after a confidence debate. In the first round, the candidate nominated by the King (in this case, Mariano Rajoy), needs an absolute majority of votes (that is, 176 seats). If he fails, a second round takes place 48 hours later, and that time, the candidate only needs a simple majority (more ‘Yes’ than ‘No’ votes).

At the moment, Rajoy has secured 138 ‘Yes’ votes (137 from his own party and one from Coalición Canaria). He has also secured Ciudadanos abstention in the second round, so he would need to make sure that ‘No’ votes don’t amount to more than 137. Now, if he manages to change Ciudadanos abstention to a ‘Yes’ vote, he would be at 170 seats.

PSOE argues that PP and Ciudadanos have other options, such as getting the support of right wing nationalist parties such as PNV (5 seats) and PDC (8 seats). However, the proximity of the Basque elections (on 25 September) and the Catalan independence process make these options practically impossible. Left wing parties such as Podemos, ERC or EH Bildu are completely out of the question and haven’t even invited to preliminary talks.

Now, PSOE is also being pressured by Podemos to explore an alternative, progressive government, which PSOE denies as well. Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez wouldn’t have enough with the support of Podemos 71 MPs, and would need to secure support from the Catalan nationalists PDC (8 seats) and ERC (9 seats). The prize for that is one and only one: a binding referendum on Catalan independence, and that is a prize PSOE can’t assume.

It’s important to understand that PSOE has a double nature. While most of its voters in large cities are progressive, its rural base is conservative in many issues, and particularly sensitive to anything related to increased autonomy for Catalonia or ETA inmates. This division can be largely appreciated in the different discourses held by the Socialist PMs in Andalusia (Susana Díaz, conservative) and Valencia (Ximo Puig, progressive).

Catalonia: Ciudadanos files case against Catalan Government for Catalan independence process.

The second Vice-Chairman of the Catalan Parliament, Ciudadanos‘ José María Espejo-Saavedra, filed a report today at the Constitutional Court, denouncing an alleged fraud of law by the Permanent Committee of the regional Parliament, which openend the possibility of an unilateral independence from Spain in a vote last July. The Constitutional Court, which had suspended that vote, had demanded that all the members of the Permanent Committee reported to the Court to investigate what happened.

Explained:

The Catalan Parliament approved, in July, the conclusions of the Catalan Constitutional Committee, which had decided that Spain’s government would not foreseeably allow a binding referendum for Catalonia independence, and so it laid out a unilateral roadmap. The plan would include a unilateral referendum organised by the regional government, and tools to establish basic institutions, such as a tax agency.

The Constitutional Court declared suspended the vote, and notified all the members of the Permanent Committee (which decides the voting agenda for the Parliament) that they had to file a report with their version of the deeds before 20 days. Official notification only reached some of the members on 18 August, so they still have two weeks before the deadline.

Ciudadanos, a strictly unionist party, is represented by Espejo-Saavedra in the Permanent Committee, and has, as it was expected, presented a report that presents the events as a fraud of law. This is based in the fact that the Constitutional Court had already suspended similar initiatives in the past (such as the mock referendum held on 9 November 2014).

The Catalan Parliament is dominated by the pro-independence coalition Junts Pel Sí (PDC + ERC) and CUP. Unionists PP, Ciudadanos and PSC are often supported by Catalunya Si Que Es Pot (Podemos branch in the region), which is contrary to a unilateral break-up.

 

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