In an attempt to save the Spanish economy massacred by Covid19, the Socialist Prime Minister calls for national political unity. The affair is far from being heard by the right-wing opposition and the Catalan separatists.
Unlike his European colleagues, the coronavirus crisis ended in a fall in popularity for the Spanish Prime Minister. While Emmanuel Macron in France and Angela Merkel in Germany see their confidence rating increase, Pedro Sanchez feels the ground slip away under his feet. The executive says the bad numbers come from ongoing criticism from the Catalan government.
The independent Quim Torra, since the beginning of the crisis, thinks that it is necessary to opt for total containment. A measure implemented, exceptionally, only from March 31 to April 14. Outside this period, employees who cannot benefit from telework must go to their professional place. “We cannot destroy our entire industry,” defends the Spanish government, trying to strike a difficult balance between preserving what is left of the national economy and the health of its citizens. “It is unconscious and dangerous,” feel the Generalitat and the independentist opinion leaders. For the moment, the experts, as divided as the politicians, cannot decide between the two theories.
The right-wing national opposition of the Partido Popular (PP) supports the government in activating the emergency plan. In the name of the common interest and the sense of the state. But the more the days pass, the more the PP has found an angle of criticism: the economic measures of the government to try to mitigate the effects of confinement would be insufficient according to the Conservatives. The right believes that the state must inject liquidity first into small businesses, artisans and the self-employed.
To try to stem the hemorrhage of criticism, Pedro Sanchez wants to go back in time politically and return in 1977 by proposing version 2.0 of the “Moncloa Pacts”. At the end of the dictatorship, Spain is suffocated by a violent economic crisis, consequence of the oil shock of 1973. The centrist Adolfo Suarez, responsible for transiting Spain from dictatorship to democracy, wants to rally political forces around its nobody. With the aim of saving Spain from bankruptcy. Centrists, socialists, communists, post-Franco, conservatives, trade unionists, Catalan and Basque nationalists signed the famous Moncloa pacts. As a result of political and union unity: Spanish workers agreed to a general wage cut of 10% and in one year inflation fell from 30% to 19%.
Followed by the years of the Iberian economic miracle which ended with the world crisis of 2008. The Covid19 destroyed the Spanish economy with the same rage as the civil war of 1936. The unity that Pedro Sanchez wanted was far from acquired. If Manuel Farga, head of the conservatives of Alianza Popular, sat down in 1977 next to the Communist Santiago Carrillo, Pablo Casado, leader of the right-wing opposition, today calls for the resignation of Vice-President Pablo Iglesias so as not to have to deal with the ultra-left. Behind the scenes, the PP thinks that Pedro Sanchez will not pass the crisis and bet on a collapse of the socialist party without legitimate leader. If Sanchez, author of the book Manuel de resistance, published before the Covid crisis 19, manages to stay in power, the right wants him weak and fragile. All excuses will be good for not sitting at the table of the new Moncloa pacts.
In 1977, Catalan nationalism, represented by the local bourgeoisie, supported the central government. As we have seen, the Generalitat post-declaration of independence does not see things so clearly. Especially since Catalan independence remains divided into two rival factions: the friends of Carles Puigdemont and the Republican Left (ERC). Two years ago during the negotiations for the formation of the independence government coalition, ERC insisted on managing the “social” ministries: education, health and work. The party wanted to demonstrate to public opinion that it knew and could manage social affairs as a good father. With the coronavirus, the party finds itself on the front line and must assume the failures of management, like the drama of retirement homes for which the Catalan Minister Chakir El Homrani did not make the right decisions.
On the other hand, Junts Per Catalunya, the party of Puigdemont, retains an easy role to assume by recalling the need for total containment with the voices of the president, government spokesperson Meritxell Budo and Interior Minister Miquel Buch. The health crisis postponed sine die the Catalan elections but did not cancel them. With this election in sight, the independence parties will be even more careful when it comes to sitting at the virtual table of the pacts of the Moncloa 2020 version.