Politics 30/03/2021

Sanchez faces a second (controlled) government crisis after Iglesias's departure

Enrique Santiago, secretary general of the Communist Party, will be the new secretary of state for Agenda 2030

2 min
Pedro Sanchez and Pablo Iglesias in front of the council of ministers on Tuesday

MadridThis Tuesday will be the last cabinet meeting for the hitherto second vice president of the Spanish government and leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, who leaves Pedro Sánchez's executive after just over a year to become a presidential candidate in the Madrid region. The farewell - earlier than planned due to a technicality in Madrid's electoral law, which prevents him from being a candidate and member of the Spanish executive - will be the second crisis for the current coalition cabinet after the departure of Salvador Illa, although it is expected to be short and controlled, as it was agreed two weeks ago with Podemos. However, Spanish government sources point out that the decision will not be announced until Sanchez communicates it to the king.

The current Minister of Labour, Yolanda Diaz, will foreseeably become the third vice president on Wednesday . This is rank lower than Iglesias used to be, as part of the conditions imposed by Sanchez: he refused to let the Labour minister rank higher than minister for the Economy Nadia Calviño.

A new Communist signing

In turn, the hitherto secretary of state for Agenda 2030, Ione Belarra - known for being very critical of the PSOE, especially on Twitter - will become minister of Social Rights. Only the question of who would occupy her position remained. In the end, as advanced by eldiario.es , it will be Enrique Santiago, secretary general of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE), current deputy spokesman of Unidas Podemos in the Spanish Parliament and man of Diaz's utmost confidence. Díaz noted sarcastically a few weeks ago that Santiago is above her at party level, because she is only a member of the PCE and not Podemos, although Iglesias has anointed her as his successor.

The still leader of Podemos had sounded out Santiago, as well as the Minister of Consumer Affairs and recently re-elected president of the PCE, Alberto Garzón, to be candidates for Madrid. But he finally announced on March 15 that he was stepping aside to try to ensure that Podemos maintained parliamentary representation in the Madrid Assembly, thus anticipating his farewell from the political front line. Part of the socialist ministers breathed a sigh of relief after Iglesias's decision and have interpreted Díaz's gesture of not fighting over the second vice presidency as a way to try to calm the waters in the coalition.

But Podemos is not the only one that has forced Sánchez to make changes. The hitherto delegate of the Spanish government in Madrid and leader of the Madrid socialists, José Manuel Franco, will be appointed next Tuesday Secretary of State for Sports and president of the Superior Council of Sports to replace Irene Lozano, who will run in the PSOE lists on May 4.