Spanish government reaches agreement on anti-crisis measures thanks to Catalans

by Lorraine Williamson

Tax cuts, public transport cuts, and government modernisation. These are just a few of the measures that the government has in mind and that parliament voted on this week.

Last Wednesday, the Spanish cabinet voted on three decrees for which there did not appear to be a parliamentary majority. It was a difficult delivery and approval of the plans was not guaranteed. In the end, however, the government seems to have won with the approval of 2 of the 3 proposals.

Neck-and-neck race

The government must have breathed a sigh of relief, because the vote was quite a challenge. Thanks to the Catalan Junts party, which abstained from voting, two of the three proposals were eventually approved, although it was a neck-and-neck race between those in favour and those against. However, not only the ‘omnibus decree’, but also the ‘anti-crisis decree’ received a majority of the votes.

The third decree did not pass. Among other things, it dealt with simplifying procedures in the event of unemployment and re-evaluating pensions.

Opposition and coalition blame each other

It was to be expected that it would be difficult for Sánchez’s government to find a majority for the proposals. Sánchez can count on a lot of resistance from the opposition. He is accused of squandering Spanish democracy. Pedro Sánchez, for his part, accuses the opposition of deliberately obstructing the coalition instead of looking at the needs of Spanish citizens.

The proposals that parliament had to vote on this week were on three topics.

Omnibus measures

An agreement on the “omnibus decree” is essential for Spain to request a fourth disbursement of €4 billion from European funds. The package of measures includes, among other things, the digitalisation of justice, the modernisation of public services, facilitating access to public jobs for people with disabilities and speeding up judicial proceedings.

Anti-crisis measures

Parliament also voted on a package of measures to address the economic and social consequences of inflation, the energy crisis, drought and conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East. The package includes measures such as discounts on public transport and reductions in VAT on basic foodstuffs.

How were these two proposals adopted?

A last-minute agreement between the government and Puigdemont’s Catalan Junts party ultimately led to a positive outcome. In the first major vote of this year in parliament, Junts decided to abstain despite opposing the proposed measures. The Catalan party’s decision not to vote came after the government made some commitments on migration powers and the application of the amnesty law.

On the other hand, the ‘no’ vote of the left-wing party Podemos has prevented the adoption of the unemployment decree. The proposal will therefore have to go back to the drawing board before it is re-examined. Although Podemos was also against the anti-crisis measures, the party eventually voted in favour.

Negotiations until the last minute

The socialist party PSOE and the Catalan Junts have been talking until just before the plenary session of parliament to reach an agreement. Despite the fierce negotiations and the fact that Junts opposed the proposed measures, the party ultimately decided not to vote. With this, the government of Pedro Sánchez obtained a majority for two of the three proposals.

Also read: These are the new measures against inflation from the Spanish government

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