Once again, as happened on the day of the vote on the labor reform, the Government had not correctly calculated the support to prefix the approval of the public pension fund -one of the pending points of the first part of the pension reform- and the lack of foresight caused chaos to take over a session that should have been a mere formality before the vote on the law in Congress this coming Thursday, June 9.
The Labor Commission met last week to close the package of amendments that the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration will include in the public fund bill. Such was the nonsense that occurred there that five hours later the opinion of the commission was approved with a package of measures that, de facto, self-amend the law approved by the Council of Ministers and knock down the central axis of the project just a few days before its vote in full.
In between, a session as historic as it is grotesque that does justice to the vaudeville tone that the pension reform has taken on. Since 10:00 am last Thursday when Yolanda Díaz's appearance began to publicize the progress of the laws approved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy, which preceded the approval of the opinion on the bill of the public fund of pensions, the nervousness of the parties was palpable, especially in the PSOE.
Something was wrong and the session had not yet started. While the Vice President of the Government continued to give an account of the work of her ministry, it was possible to notice the bustle of entrances and exits of the Constitutional Chamber of Congress where the commission was held, and the spokesmen of the parties confirmed between corridors the catastrophe that was about to take place. to come: the Government had not transferred the definitively negotiated amendments -accepted- until five minutes before the beginning of the session and only ten minutes before, Bildu had transferred a statement confirming support for the public fund law by way of abstention in exchange for a 15% rise in non-contributory pensions until the end of the year.
At this moment the improvisation of the Government was staged. The spokeswoman for the PSOE in the Toledo Pact, Mercè Perea, handed over the articles of amendments accepted and which should be voted on later, when the parties were surprised: some points agreed with parties such as PNV are dropped, new agreements appear with Bildu, and in the face of ignorance, the scene was similar to the one prior to a university exam in which the students share their impressions between nervousness and bewilderment, and with the exchange of last minute notes. All far removed from parliamentary rigor and seriousness.
The parties were learning at that time how the Government had been agreeing on measures with the groups individually without making it known in a common forum, as was the presentation of amendments held two weeks ago in which the cabinet of Minister José Luis Escrivá left all the articulated of more than 100 amendments open to the vote in Committee. And this was the tip.
Such was the volume of amendments that had to be voted on that several of the commission representatives admitted to ABC after the session that they were voting "at least once" for them. Before, in view of the absurdity that could occur, the parties had proposed taking the session as a sort of second presentation, leaving the final vote for another day, to which the chairman of the commission that began the session did not agree.
The vote on amendments began and the ERC spokesman in the Toledo Pact, Jordi Salvador, begged the chairman of the commission for arnica asking that he be considered "not present" until the time of the vote on the final opinion. "I can't take in so much information in such a short amount of time," he noted. As little as the five minutes that the PSOE gave to the rest of the formations to learn about the agreements reached before the vote.
"It is the 'modus operandi' of this Government," said different spokesmen complaining about the ways of negotiating important laws from the Government, and specifically in this case from the Ministry of Social Security. In fact, even from United We Can the idea was conveyed that the disastrous final result of the vote - a restrained achievement for the purple formation - is the product of the improvisation of the Executive and the lack of transparency when negotiating.
Already during the voting, the dynamic was erratic: the parties asked about the content of what was going to be voted on, packages of amendments were formed to vote together at that very moment. And the disaster: United We Can asks for a block vote on amendments 57, 58, 59 and 60. Amendment 59, which asked to suppress the deduction in Social Security quota of the employer's contributions in favor of the worker's pension plan, does confirm the PSOE that had transacted with the purple formation. However, before moving on to the transactional ones, the PSOE gets confused and votes en bloc in favor of the four amendments.
And the mess mounts. The PSOE had just cleaned the public pension fund of tax incentives for the employer, had reduced the tax incentives in personal income tax for the employee for contributions to the plan and, as a last straw, had given the green light to the unstopping 'to the bravas' of the maximum bases of contribution -opening the door to raise contributions to workers with salaries above 49,000 euros per year and without raising the maximum retirement pension-. De facto, the PSOE has just overturned its own law.
And that is when the shadow of suspicion looms. Despite the desperate request of the PSOE spokesperson asking for a recess to negotiate new amendments 'in situ', to which the presidency did not agree, and begging to vote again on the package of amendments, to which the committee's lawyer did not agree , the socialist group had given the green light in that package to the red lines that United We Can put in place so as not to complete the amalgamation of leftist formations that had withdrawn support for this point of Escrivá's reform and that had left the Government alone seeking add votes in the opposition (PP and Cs).
The feeling of suspicion underpinned him Vox. Without further explanation, the formation gave its abstention to the PSOE, which earned it to kick the bill forward until the plenary session of Congress, despite having included the entire fiscal blow of United We Can. The PSOE shelved the session and Minister Escrivá confirmed the error 24 hours later. He assures that it was "an error" by the Socialists due to the "huge number of amendments per bloc" and that "the correction procedure is underway through a particular vote and will not be of great importance from the point of view of the processing of the law of pension plans».
As explained by the Congress lawyer to ABC, there is such a possibility as long as private votes are issued up to 48 hours after the opinion is issued alleging disagreement on some of the points included in the bill. "It is an aggravated procedure," he assures, emphasizing that for these points to be removed during the vote in plenary, there must be a highly justified statement of reasons.
Now, the ball remains on the court of several parties and nothing in the hands of the Government. The exchange experienced in the Labor Commission and the blunder led the Government to maneuver until the last minute before the vote in plenary. The list of supports with which the opinion was approved in committee -along with Bildu, Vox also abstained; PP, ERC, Cs and Compromís opposed; and obtained the support of the PNV and the PRC- is already a trompe l'oeil. Many of these parties will drop their support if the mowing of incentives that was included by mistake by the PSOE is maintained.
Furthermore, the reform of the public pension system is perhaps the most important and substantial measure of those committed by the Government to Brussels in exchange for the arrival of funds for reconstruction, but it is also the most ambitious of those announced after the arrival of the coalition to La Moncloa. The European Commission, aware of the importance of the actions taken in this area for the sustainability and balance of public accounts, has already given Spain a first test in just four weeks to find out the progress made in the first package of measures. For this reason, the absurdity experienced a few days ago in Congress during the session for the approval of the amendments to the public pension fund has a cost, mainly reputational in the face of those who monitor the actions of the Executive in this matter.