Spanish government defends dialogue before the right hours before the meeting

Electricity prices avoid Catalan conflict monopolising parliament session

3 min
The Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez, during the session of control of Congress, along with the vice presidents Nadia Calviño, Yolanda Díaz and Teresa Ribera

MadridDespite the fact that a large part of Pedro Sánchez's government's future depends on the negotiating table with the Catalan government, linked as it is to ERC's support in the Spanish parliament, it has not been the main theme of the opposition's questions in Parliament today. A few hours before the meeting, the right questioned the meeting, but it has not subjected ministers to a barrage of reproaches exclusively because of the talks with the independence movement. The huge increase in the price of electricity has stolen the limelight from an issue which at another time would have monopolised the session. Even so, three of the members from the Spanish delegation have defended the meeting, including Sánchez, who has described it as "the essence of democracy".

The leader of the opposition, Pablo Casado, has accused the Spanish Government of having pardoned the "coup supporters" and negotiating with those who "encourage radicals who set fire to the streets". The Socialist leader has defended his position and so has the Minister of the Presidency, Felix Bolaños, questioned by Cs spokesman, Edmundo Bal. "What is worthwhile is to dialogue and the most useless is to insist on the positions that led to the conflict," replied the person who will coordinate the Spanish delegation at the dialogue table. And it is this line, that of not giving hope to maximalist positions, that Sánchez's team wants to put forward. That is why he denies that he is going to "agree to a referendum" with the Catalan government, as Casado denounces.

This led to a question from People's Party MP Mario Garcés, who asked the government to forward the agenda for this afternoon's meeting. He also challenged the Minister of Territorial Policy, Isabel Rodriguez, to record the meeting to show that the executive is not yielding to the demands of the pro-independence movement. "Or don't all Spaniards have the right to know?" he asked, who warned that the negotiating table is not considered by the Catalan Statute of Autonomy.

Rodríguez responded saying that it is not the "self-determination table" which will meet this afternoon, as the PP calls it. "The referendum for independence does not fit into the constitution and it is not what Catalonia or Spain needs," he remarked. In addition, he added that dialogue is already bearing its fruits because Catalonia "no longer lives a situation of institutional disagreement" and, in her opinion, it is putting an end to the "deterioration of coexistence".

The Spanish government

Unlike a few months ago, this time the PP has not focused its questions on the pardons or the negotiating table, but instead has focused on the increase in the price of electricity. In fact, for a few weeks the party has launched a campaign to present its proposal to cheapen the electricity bill and contrast it with the government's measures. Pablo Casado has criticised the measures adopted on Tuesday by the council of ministers, which he described as "confiscatory", and asked Sánchez: "You demanded resignations when the bill rose by 8%. Why not resign when it rises 200%?"

"The government will always defend the general interest of citizens above any interest and any particular pressure," Sánchez replied. The Spanish president has not only had to respond on this issue, but so have the three vice presidents, Nadia Calviño, Yolanda Díaz and Teresa Ribera, because People's Party spokeswoman Cuca Gamarra and MP Teodoro García Egea have also centred their questions around this topic.

Calviño has defended the measures adopted before the opposition's "rant", while Díaz accused José María Aznar's government of defending the "privatisation of the electricity sector" to reduce the electricity bill. "The government of Spain is working to defend the people and to reduce the large profits that companies have," she said, estimating electricity company Endesa's profits at €27bn since the last PP government.