The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, yesterday at a meeting at the Moncloa Palace (Fernando.Calvo / EFE)
Juan Carlos Merino, Madrid
09/25/2020 06:00 | Updated 09/25/2020 11:52 AM
Sánchez assumes wear and tear and pressure to preserve his distension plan
“Of course he will endure”. In front of those who from the right accuse him of being a puppet in the hands of separatists and radicals just to cling to power, and the concerns that his strategy also arouses in some socialist sectors, everyone in Moncloa and in the PSOE and PSC leaderships warns that Pedro Sánchez is very willing to hold on. And to assume the political wear and tear and the enormous pressures that he already suffers in order to calm the conflict in Catalonia and guarantee the survival of the legislature at the same time with the approval of his first general state budgets. All this, in addition, in the midst of an alarming health, economic, labor, social and even institutional crisis that does not give respite. Again, the perfect storm that usually unleashes on Sánchez throughout most of his hectic political career.
The reactivation of the reform of the Criminal Code to lower the penalties of the crime of sedition for which the independence leaders of 1-O were convicted, and the surprise announcement of the administrative processing of petitions for pardon for them, is fuel for the hard political offensive of the Popular Party and Vox, formations to which the President of the Government escaped alive from the three months of the state of alarm in Spain, despite their effort to take advantage of the pandemic to overthrow him. Also the noisy absence today of Felipe VI in Barcelona, in the traditional delivery of offices to the new class of judges, which also sets fire to the judicial body and before which the president of the Judicial Power and the Supreme Court will raise his voice on the spot, Carlos Lesmes. And even the former socialist president Felipe González, the ray that does not stop in Sánchez’s career, returns to the charge to once again criticize his coalition with Unidas Podemos and denounce a budget negotiation with the pro-independence parties. “Sánchez will endure, the resilient do not throw themselves into the ravine”, says a socialist territorial leader about the already proven capacity of resistance of the Prime Minister. Not for nothing, some recall, he gave the title of Manual de Resistencia to his first political memoirs.
The Chief Executive, again under the storm: “The resilient do not throw themselves into the ravine”
They assert that the objective to be achieved – to channel the Catalan conflict despite the fact that Quim Torra still does not defoliate the electoral daisy, and to put the legislature on track with vital budgets to face the huge crisis – far exceeds the toll to pay in terms of political wear and tear of partisan and even institutional confrontation.
The leadership of the PSOE defends the relaxation strategy deployed by Sánchez in Catalonia since his inauguration, by maintaining now his full willingness to reactivate the dialogue board while waiting for Torra, with his offer of a negotiable budget pact with Esquerra and even with Junts, and by speeding up his movements and events with announcements to ease penalties for sedition and process pardons. “Sánchez, without a doubt, will suffer wear and tear, but he facilitates budgets and buys time, something essential in these circumstances, ensuring the rest of the legislature”, PSOE leaders admit. “Besides”, they add, “there is no alternative majority in any case”. The Prime Minister wants to shield the majority of the investiture and at the same time – squaring the circle, again – to add Ciudadanos to the mix.
The president’s move
“He will suffer wear, but he facilitates budgets and buys time”, they admit in the PSOE
Despite the political anger unleashed again with the right, although in fact it never abated since his inauguration, socialist leaders describe as “a very intelligent movement politically” the announcement that Sánchez left in charge, before flying, to the Minister of Justice on Wednesday, Juan Carlos Campo, so that the petitions for pardon to those convicted of the procés were beginning their processing in a few days. The President of the Government thus wanted to convert a mere administrative procedure that the department of Justice is obliged by law to undertake into a political movement of great significance to neutralize the framework of the independence confrontation in Catalonia before the Supreme Court decides on the disqualification of Torra and in anticipation of the anniversary of 1-O.
Socialist leaders warn that the scenario of permanent anger with the right “is already amortized” since Sánchez opted for a new political discourse with the bilateral dialogue board. “They call us a social communist government in the hands of ‘bilduetarras’ and ‘independentists’, what else can they say?”, they reply. “That is part of the wear and tear that Sánchez assumes”, they admit. But they understand that it is a wear that the President of the Government can take in order to achieve the objective.
The announcement of pardons
“The story of the Puigdemont conflict loses strength”, say socialist leaders
And they also consider that the announcement takes off guard and “leaves no arguments” to the pro-independence sectors that, in the middle of the pre-electoral scenario in Catalonia, are trying to relight the flame of the confrontation with the Government. “The story of the conflict by Carles Puigdemont is misplaced and loses strength”, they say.
The announcement of Minister Campo, the socialists emphasize, was perfectly planned from Moncloa, where the maximum discretion was imposed to achieve the desired political coup. The Government thus announced the beginning of a process to which it is bound precisely by the ancient law of Pardon – “the opposite would be to prevaricate”, they allege – without determining the outcome of the process or the decision that, ultimately, the Council of Ministers will take within at least six months.
The president, it is alleged in the PSOE, gives “political value” to an obligatory procedure
If the Government had started this process without publicity, they allege, it risked that it would have been known anyway and accused of hiding it as a tribute to the independence movement to negotiate budgets. By announcing it with great fanfare, they defend, not only is the procedure normalized but it is endowed with “political value”.