Sánchez will try to save ERC as a partner after the slam of the ‘Catalangate’

Pedro Sánchez, a leathery political leader who has made the resilience his personal brand, once again saved another culminating moment of the legislature. And he was not sung. Not much less. He managed to validate this Thursday the royal decree law of response measures to the consequences of the war in Ukraine, thanks to the decisive support of EH Bildu and with the rejection of the PP and an ERC very hurt with the Government by the ‘Catalangate’. Approval, yes, for the minimum, for four squalid votes, but enough. For 176 yeses and 172 noes and one abstention. This time, and unlike what happened with the labor reform, without setbacks and without any deputy’s mistakes. A clean result, absolute majority. But those cold numbers signed a negotiation taken to the limit in recent days, a combination that only ended up adding up a few minutes before the plenary session began in Congress and that visualized a second and important slam of Republicans in another nuclear vote. A distancing that grows and that casts many doubts for the future.

From the lips of ministers and high officials of the PSOE came, almost as a conspiracy, a conviction: “we will redirect“. It was the certainty that despite all the setbacks, despite the fact that the fracture widens, it will be possible to rebuild the relationship with ERC, now highly eroded by the alleged espionage of independence through Israeli ‘software’ pegasus. The formation of Oriol Junqueras continues to be, in the eyes of the Socialists, a regular member of the legislature. But he is not the only one and not the one for whom all the votes necessarily pass. He did not support Sánchez in the labor reform, in February, nor this April 28, in the anti-crisis package. Now, the Socialists hope that the crisis will deflate once the appearance of the director of the National Intelligence Center (CNI), predictably next week, in the recently constituted commission of official secrets of the Congress.

The Executive suffers to save the anti-crisis decree, but it achieves it ‘in extremis’, for the minimum and thanks to Bildu’s yes. The no, and after many detours, it remains in the no

Of course, the Executive was able to breathe this Thursday after chewing a growing tension for several days. He was running the serious risk that his shock plan would be defeated. In the end, he put together an alternative majority. 176 votes nourished by PSOE, United We Can, PNV, Bildu, PDECat, Más País, Compromís, BNG, Nueva Canarias, PRC and Teruel Exists. In the no block, Vox, ERC, Ciudadanos, Junts, CUP, the two former deputies from UPN, Foro Asturias, the former from Cs Pablo Cambronero and, finally, and after much detour, the PP. The only abstention came from the parliamentarian of the Canarian Coalition. The text will now be processed as bill —gesture of the Government to tie the votes—, which will allow changes to be introduced. “Healthy politics” has won, the one that “connects with the demands and needs of the citizens”, against the “unhealthy politics“, the one that “turns its back to the street”, Sánchez congratulated himself before the journalists at the end of the plenary session.

The president did not differentiate between those who had fallen into the “politicking“, among those who bet on “the worse, the better”. He did not charge against ERC (nor was he angry with Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s PP), but he did not display gestures for the future either. Neither did the Republican deputy do so on the platform Montse Bassa. “They know the intimacies of our families, friends and relatives”, he deplored, to ask again for the fall of Margarita Robles, sued the day before by the ‘president’, Pere Aragonès, for the words of the Defense Minister in the control session with which came to justify the surveillance of the independence leaders in 2019.

The “great dilemma” of the Republicans

The no of ERC, in fact, was forged on Wednesday night after a meeting “very long” in which, according to sources present, a “great dilemma” was evidenced, since the new door slam on Sánchez meant rejecting a decree with beneficial measures for citizens, such as the 20 cent bonus the liter of fuel. But he ended up prevailing the criterion that the justification of Robles and the strong defense that Moncloa made of the minister was a “disrespect for efforts” who had made the match.

The continuity of Robles as defense minister is not in question. The president “of course & rdquor; maintains her trust in her

The minister’s words roused ERC, but they also stirred United We Can. Due to the tone, they also sowed a certain discomfort in the PSOE, for having broken the strategy of calculated appeasement that Sánchez and his strong man in the Cabinet, Félix Bolaños, had followed. But his charge was not in question. In Moncloa and in the party they shielded it, they warned that the president is not considering dismissing him because he has not done “anything irregular” and because the CNI, in his hands, has acted “in accordance with the law”. That is, with judicial protection. Giving up that head, they observed, would be like acknowledging an illegality, and the Government just repeats that it has a “clear conscience.”

Sánchez responded this Thursday to the press with a “of course” when they asked him if he maintained confidence in his minister, the best valued of his Cabinet and with the ability to reach the most moderate electorate. In the environment of Robles, they welcome the response “of the street“, of the support that citizens give her, and they emphasize that the president, with whom she has a fluid and direct dialogue, already knows her tone, which is “always”. “She contributes, for better or for worse, courage, bravery and principles“, illustrate very close sources.

And now that? The answer it is not clear. In the immediate term, no more gestures towards ERC than those already announced are expected to clarify the ‘Catalangate’. “Step by step”, pointed out a prominent minister. Next is the official secrets commission, unlocked this Thursday with the vote, by absolute majority (no longer by three-fifths), of its ten members. Four of them, from ERC, Bildu, Junts and the CUP, not supported by the right. The body will probably meet next week and the director of the CNI, Paz Esteban, will appear there. The confidence is that this session will serve to explain what happened, without reservations (it is the only forum where classified information can be revealed), and calm down the independence movement. But ERC has already warned that it is not worth it, that it wants a commission of investigation and resignations.

More and more expensive

From then on, they assure the Government and the Socialist Group, it will continue “talking to everyoneas has always been done”, and working “vote by vote”, also with ERC. “Not at all” they want to lose the Republicans as partners, says a relevant minister, they will seek to rebuild trust. Now, as indicated by a charge of Moncloa, the vote on the anti-crisis decree has also made the ERC see that “it is not essential”: “He has threatened and lost“, because the validation was achieved by threading another majority, “so with Bildu and Ciudadanos, depending on the case, votes can be obtained.”

For now, the feeling that the legislature is broken has not spread, although everything will depend on what will happen in the coming weeks, on whether trust with ERC is rebuilt

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For now, the perception has not spread that the legislature is broken, finishedalthough some socialist parliamentarians pointed out in plenary that, depending on what happens in recent weeks, the feeling could take shape that it will be very difficult to complete the mandate when Sánchez expected, in December 2023. “Whatever happens, what is clear is that each bill in Congress will cost us more“, they confirm in the parliamentary dome.

ERC’s vision is grim. Looking to the future, Republican sources warn that the Government is leaving “little room for manoeuvre”, but immediately after they ask “not anticipate events” about future parliamentary support for the PSOE. Before Robles’ words, Aragonès’s strategy was to continue negotiating with the Executive, vote by vote, but moving away from the label of preferred partner. “They have excluded us and they take us by the night watchman’s whistle“, settle the aforementioned sources. What seems evident is that this Thursday the Government and ERC left themselves in tatters and that now the roadmap needs to be recalculated. It will not be easy and the result, today, is very uncertain.

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