The official figures for military spending show that this too has become a gross contradiction for Podemos, an incoherence between what it proclaims and what it does or actively consents to. Thus, while charging against the increase in the budget dedicated to national defense, the Government that it shares with the PSOE has shot up military spending to record figures. And, in addition, it does it behind the scenes, by patching up from the Executive the accounts approved in Parliament.
In this way, the figures recorded for Defense in the General State Budget Law (PGE) are much lower than the real, final bill. In 2021, the budgets designed by the PSOE-Podemos government and agreed with its parliamentary partners – among which are the Catalan separatists of ERC and the abertzales of Bildu – reserved 9,411.94 million euros for Defense programs, but the truth is that they ended up spending 10,761.97 million, according to official figures certified by the General State Intervention and compiled by ABC.
In other words, the government shared by Socialists and United We Can spent 1,351 million euros more on military programs than the coalition said it was going to spend. He covered that excess by approving budget modifications, moving money from one item to another to expand Defense funds.
Those budget patches to boost military spending is a government classic. The Executive of the socialist Rodríguez Zapatero did it, it was put into practice by the Government of Mariano Rajoy (PP) and, despite his proclamations, the current PSOE-United We Can cabinet does it profusely. The difference is that these other governments did not do so at the same time that they spoke out against NATO or denied the increase in defense spending.
In addition, these practices shared by United We Can as a government partner were not something specific in 2021. It has happened since they came to power at the hands of Pedro Sánchez, in January 2020. And they continue to occur.
"We cannot share an increase in military spending when Spain needs more Minimum Vital Income, more aid to pay the electricity bill, more doctors, more teachers and no more tanks", cried out on March 16 the general secretary of Podemos and Minister of Social Rights, Ione Belarra. “The priorities are clear and we are going to continue working in this line within the Government,” she stressed. But those words had nothing to do with reality, because at the same time his Executive was once again patching up the state budgets to covertly fatten up another 806 million euros in the funds earmarked for defense in the accounts for the current year.
The PGE of 2022 approved by the Government with the support of its pro-independence partners allocated 10,155 million euros to Defense. However, on March 31, that figure had already been increased by the Executive to 10,961 million, due to budget modifications. Given this, it is clear what his intentions are for this year: to skip once again the PGE to shore up record numbers of military spending, in line with the positions defended by the center-right, but repudiated in words by those who at the same time They pay from the government.
That this has happened since the first day of the Government of the PSOE and United We Can is also proven when reviewing the official figures left by 2020. That first year of the mandate, the social-communist Executive was managing with the extended accounts of the PP. Sánchez, who came to power on June 1, 2018 with the motion of censure against Mariano Rajoy, was not able to carry out his own budgets. So he repeatedly extended those of 2018, those that had been left ready by the government that he had overthrown. With those accounts he governed until January 1, 2021, because until then he had not been able to update the general budgets of the State. Well, in 2020, that extended budget with which the PSOE Executive and United We Can started allocated 8,737 million euros to Defense. However, actual spending that year amounted to 9,455 million.
Although the Ministry of Defense is one of the PSOE's management areas within the Government, United We Can is an active part of the collegiate action of the Executive, which as a group is responsible for the major government policies and which also covers budgetary modifications in which the escalation of military spending is being supported. In addition, in practice, this progressive increase in investment in national defense is, to a large extent, the result of the medium and long-term investment strategy planned by the previous Government of the Popular Party. Far from breaking with that upward trend in Defense investment launched by that Rajoy Executive, the current one has maintained and reinforced it to the point of raising military spending to record figures.
In 2021, the Government of the PSOE and United We Can dedicated some 2,000 million euros more to Defense programs than in 2017, which was the last full year of the Executive of Mariano Rajoy. The violent crisis that broke out in 2008 forced a general cut in public spending that obviously also affected the Armed Forces. From the 9,679 million euros to which military spending rose in 2008, it went to just 7,647 million in 2014, the year in which the cuts in Defense bottomed out. From then on, having saved that harsh economic recession, the Rajoy government planned a comeback in military spending that has been supported by the social-communist Executive of Pedro Sánchez.
The upward budget modifications that it has made in the first months of this 2022 reinforce this trend. As a result of these patches in the accounts, the funds available for Defense for this year are close to 11,000 million euros, which will allow it to spend even more on the Armed Forces than in 2021, when the record figure of 10,761.97 million was reached. Of these, 5,076.65 million went to personnel expenses and some 4,000 million to investments, most of them –2,746 million– in military modernization programs.