Eulàlia Vintró – 17 March 2021
Professor at the Universitat de Barcelona
Laura Borràs presides over the meeting of the new Bureau of the Parliament /EUROPA PRESS / DAVID ZORRAKINO
A sum of irresponsibilities in the midst of the pandemic
Would it be too much to ask political leaders and their advisors to think about the needs of citizens?
A year ago, without anyone being able to imagine it, a 15-day state of alarm was decreed. Home confinement has lasted more than three months and there are still as many months of limitations depending on the evolution of the pandemic. The restrictions will continue as 70% of the population will not have been vaccinated until well into the summer.
We have therefore been through a very difficult period and we are still going through it. It would have been reasonable for the political forces in parliament and government, in the State and in the autonomous communities, leaving aside their differences of opinion, to have adopted a broad consensus to tackle the virus and safeguard the health and lives of the people as far as possible and, secondly, the economy, the labour market and social cohesion. This did not happen. We need only recall the PP’s votes against the extensions to the state of emergency or the confrontation between the communities of Madrid and Catalonia and the State, calling for the total transfer of health competences to guarantee people’s lives, when the situation has worsened the moment, they have had them.
There have also been positive results, the fruit of parliamentary agreements, of social pacts between the state government, trade unions and employers, and of the European contribution to the economic transformation of the various states in favour of the environment and digitalisation. New, expansive, and social budgets in Spain and Catalonia have opened up expectations and have facilitated essential measures: the Temporary Layoff Scheme (ERTE), the minimum living income, the updating of pensions, the allocation of the 140 billion euros from Europe, the various types of aid to SMEs, businesses, the hotel and catering industry, the self-employed…
Today the political effort should be concentrated on saving lives and vaccinating the entire population quickly and recovering the economy and the labour market.
There have also been regional elections, in summer in Galicia and the Basque Country, which did not bring about any significant changes, and a month ago in Catalonia, which have brought about important changes, as yet undefined. Today the political effort should be concentrated on two major objectives: first, to reduce the impact of the pandemic, save lives and rapidly vaccinate the entire population and, second, to recover the economy and the labour market, promote social cohesion and ensure the presentation of projects appropriate to the European call for proposals and to the needs and demands of our society.
Regarding the first, people’s responsible behaviour is proving more effective than institutional cooperation and the pace of vaccination. As for the second, we know about some defensive and palliative measures, but we know nothing about European programmes or future lines of action.
Party and personal interests
Yes, we are witnessing an unimaginable sum of partisan and short-sighted irresponsibility. In Catalonia, instead of shortening the deadlines and opting to open new horizons and broaden alliances, the opposite has been done, and the president of the Parliament has already announced her willingness to set herself up as a counter-power to the Catalan government and to confront the Statute and the Constitution, although all members of parliament must promise to comply with them. The formation of the new government will exhaust the legally established limits, and everything points to personal and party interests rather than those of Catalonia.
In the rest of Spain, the mess is extraordinary: a motion of censure in the community and city Council of Murcia by Cs and PSOE; Ayuso’s decree in Madrid, dissolving the Assembly, dismissing the vice-president and Cs councillors from his government and calling elections for 4 May; PSOE and Más Madrid each present a motion of censure against Ayuso; PSOE presents another motion of censure against the president of the PP in Castilla y León. And if all this does not seem responsible, the continuation is grotesque. In the community of Murcia, they are mixing “turncoat process” and vote-buying in exchange for positions; in Madrid they are appropriating a Trump slogan and boasting – “socialism or freedom” which later becomes “communism or freedom” -, and in Cs the reactions of their leaders and those affected show that they only have their survival in mind. A few hours ago, Iglesias’ announcement that he would leave the government and confront Ayuso to prevent the right’s victory and delegate his functions to Yolanda Díaz opens up more unknowns than certainties.
Would it be too much to ask political leaders and their advisors to think about the needs of the public and to put aside irresponsible actions that endanger our society in the midst of this pandemic?