Seville 11/20/2023 at 07:20 CET
With power in 12 autonomies and two autonomous cities, experts consider that Feijóo can set its own legislative agenda and force sectoral conferences with the Government
Beyond the street, the PP has in its hand a powerful letter to stop the Government of Pedro Sanchez and differentiate itself from Vox through institutional channels. With 14 of the 17 autonomous communities governed by the popular, the main opposition party can exercise counterpower to the PSOE and Sumar Government in the main powers that mark the lives of the Spanish: health, education, housing or fiscal policy.
Never before has a political map of these characteristics been given, experts review, with almost all of the autonomous power painted blue in the face of a left-wing government. Furthermore, the communities, after the transfer of health responsibilities in 2001, have consolidated more regional powers than ever in the history. An authentic stress testas was the pandemic, for the functioning of the State of the autonomies.
The barons of the PP can have a very important influence on the national agenda, convene dialogue bodies such as the Conference of Presidents, created in 2004, or sectoral conferences. For those who know the ins and outs of the Spanish State, this counterpower is much more relevant than that which the Popular Party can exercise in the Senate, where it also has an absolute majority and is already working to slow down the amnesty law.
Two open fronts
While the nationalist and independence partners of the PSOE They demand that this be the legislature of the plurinational debate and give way to a new autonomous framework, the PP communities have already begun to play their cards in two ways. In the Constitutional Court, which is seen as a key body where conflict and the resources of the autonomies against the Government will increase, and in the Conference of Presidents. The popular autonomous governments have already warned that they will appeal to the Constitutional Court for the amnesty law and have requested, with the regulations in hand, an urgent call for the body that brings together all the autonomous presidents with Pedro Sanchez to demand explanations of their agreements with independentists and nationalists. The regulations of the Conference of Presidents indicate that ten regional presidents are enough to force its convocation. Since its creation in 2004, the body has met 26 times.
In this legislature, the PP communities have raised appeals against the housing law or the tax on great fortunes. However, the final balance of the legislature of the Ministry of Territorial Policy indicates that it has been a stage of little conflict between the Government and the autonomies, with a total of 150 deals closed to resolve disputes and only 18 appeals to the Constitutional Court“reducing jurisdictional disputes by 67% compared to that existing with the previous Government.”
Forty-three sector conferences
According to official data from the Ministry of Territorial Policy in Spain, up to 43 sectoral conferences are currently operating, created from 1981 to 2021. From January to October 2023, 60 meetings were held and in 2022 the total number was 156. They are part of the day On the day of the government’s action, the memories of these meetings are public and accessible, as a symptom, the Government defends “democratic maturity” and proof of “the evolution of 40 years of the State of Autonomies”, defends the Ministry in its latest “Report on the activity of cooperation bodies in 2022”.
The other organ where an important battle will take place is the Fiscal and Financial Policy Council, that must approve the future regional financing model, a key piece of the territorial debate, and issues such as the debt relief agreed with Catalonia. The Council’s regulations indicate that the vote of the National Government is worth 50%, so the Ministry of Finance believes that with only three PSOE communities, Asturias, Navarra and Castilla La Mancha, they have a majority. He PP disagrees with that reading and defends that they have the majority of the body.
Sandra Leon, professor of Political Science at the Carlos III University of Madrid, assures that the PP communities can interfere significantly in the agenda of the future Government of Pedro Sánchez and that in the socialist’s investiture speech some of the issues that will focus already appear. the confrontation beyond financing. The president spoke of a plan to cut healthcare waiting lists or resources for mental healthpowers that are in autonomous hands at the moment, and also placed emphasis on issues such as energy transitionwhich requires the participation of the autonomies, or in living place.
“Social policies will be the subject of confrontation although the practice of the functioning of the State of the Autonomies indicates that, afterwards, the work of the sectoral conferences is much more fluid and less conflictive and that The norm is an institutional understanding with the minister on duty, especially when it comes to territorializing or distributing funds,” defends León. In his opinion, the operation of the autonomous model has been enshrining the maxim that Autonomous actors are governed more by the interests of their territory and of its citizens, who in the end are its voters, than by the guidelines given from the national headquarters of its parties. An evolution that León believes is confirmed as the transfer of powers to the autonomies progresses and that is consolidated from 2001, when the transfer of healthcare is signed.
During the period of the Government of José María Aznar from 1996 There was already an important imbalance on the political map but the circumstances had nothing to do with it. Now, everything is more difficult. At that time the PP governed Spain and in all the autonomous communities except three: Extremadura, Castilla La Mancha and Andalusia, which formed the socialist Gallic village. Those three were expressly left out of the reform signed in the financing model. The Carlos III University professor explains that it is a detail that many are unaware of: the financing model has to be approved by the Fiscal and Financial Policy Council, before arriving in the form of an organic law to be approved in the Congress of Deputies with qualified majority. But they also have to be approved bilaterally with each community and that meant that in 1996 those three communities decided to stay outside and for a few years Two regional financing systems coexisted in Spainthe one that applied to all communities and the previous one applied to the three socialist communities.
For the sociologist and CSIC scientist Luis Miller, the PP has three very powerful instruments in its hands: the sectoral conferences, the Senate and, once the Basque elections are over and depending on the result, the possibility of opening a dialogue and a path of specific agreements with the PNV, which It would change the majorities in Congress, opening the possibility of dialogue between the PP and the nationalists. The only possible formula at this time for the party of Alberto Núñez Feijóo stop being in the hands of Vox and Santiago Abascal.
In this regional X-ray, it cannot be overlooked that, as Sánchez pointed out in his investiture speech, the PP sealed an agreement with Vox after the May regional elections with important political consequences. “It opened the doors to five regional governments, five councils and 135 city councils. Or what is the same, gave him the power to affect the lives of more than 12 million Spaniards“said the socialist president. His speech made it clear that if the PP plans to confront the Government from its territorial power, the PSOE plans to base its political discourse on the consequences of that agreement with Vox in the lives of thousands of citizenswith the practical effects of the extreme right deciding on politics of agriculture, climate change, culture, social rights and imposing setbacks on issues such as abortion, gender violence or the rights of the LGTBi community. The institutional battle is served.