Thursday, 22 December 2011

May PP government be Christmas gift I most wished for

Since the new PP government of Spain has now been sworn in and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has announced that there will be policies to balance budgets and create a more business friendly climate, you might consider that I have already received the Christmas gift which I most have dreamt of. Partly that is true – I have never lived in a Spain governed by PP, but I am totally convinced that they will do a better job than Zapatero. However, since I live here in Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona) I cannot help worrying about the negative comments some commentators are now making on the communication between the new central government and the one representing our autonomous community.

Possibly this is nothing but a media spin. As a result of the general elections, November 20, PP holds an absolute majority in the Spanish parliament so there was never any doubt whether Rajoy would be installed as Prime Minister. Given this lack of excitement, many journalist turned their focus on how the other parties positioned themselves and immediately found out that the representatives from the Basque Country did so totally differently than ours from Catalonia.

Among the Basque members of parliament, PP’s own people (3) voted yes to letting Mariano Rajoy be the person to form the new government, but 11 more (PNV and Amaiur (!)) abstained from voting, so of 18 in total, only the 4 socialists voted against him. Contrast this with the 47 Catalans, of which 36 voted no to Mariano Rajoy (CiU, PSC, ICV-EUiA and ERC) and nobody abstained, while PP’s 11 own members obviously voted yes. Is this the final proof that Basques are in fact better than Catalans in understanding how to negotiate with Madrid?

Since Catalonia is such a vital part of the Spanish economy I truly hope that Mariano Rajoy will be able to see beyond any symbolic issues. Let us be honest, last year PP voted against Artur Mas being the President de la Generalitat, and still CiU and PP have been able cooperate in many areas. True, José María Aznar could usually count on the Catalans when he was Prime Minister, but this time CiU already in the election campaign conditioned their support for any prime minister on a new fiscal model which limits the tax transfers from Catalonia to other autonomous communities. During the last days before the installation took place, they asked for a gesture which would give them a reason to abstain (be it a promise to sort out what the state owes to Catalonia in terms of the so called fondos de competividad or disposición addicional tercera del Estatuto – money already committed but not never paid by Zapatero). Rajoy decided not to enter into these discussions and CiU, consequently, voted as of their earlier messages.

As residents of Catalonia we have every reason to hope for a better colaboration between the biggest political force here and the biggest political force on the Spanish level. All our complaining about the current model for regional tax transfers will lead to nothing unless those who represent the state are prepared to listen.

PP does not need CiU during this term of office, but can still benefit from seeing the ties strengthened. Artur Mas’s commitment to fiscal austerity in Catalonia – in spite of how it reduces the popularity of his government – is, as far as I understand, still unique in Spain and therefore an example. And on the state level, Duran i Lleida’s ability to ideologically defend liberal reforms of the economy will be quite useful already in January, when it is time to sell in the planned labour market reform to the Spanish citizens, although the trade unions will say no (Who thinks they will not?).

Politics is politics, but it is time to shake hands and work together. For the sake of my company and for the sake of our family economy, this change of government is a Christmas gift which I cannot allow anyone to spoil.

By the way: Happy festive season! Bones festes! ¡Felices fiestas!

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It is a well known fact that within CiU, it was the bigger part of the federation, Artur Mas’ CDC which was not prepared to support PP without receiving anything in return, while Duran i Lleida’s UDC desired to show a bit more of flexibility. Not surprisingly, Duran i Lleida was one of the first politicians to express that the ministers of the new government had a “good profile”. Well done!

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And as always a few links:

SPA - LaVanguardia: Enric Juliana - Rajoy, presidente, con aliento vasco
SPA - LaVanguardia:
El PP amaga con rechazar los presupuestos tras el no de CiU a la investidura de RajoySPA - LaVanguardia: José Antich - Matices de una investidura
CAT - Ara: El Govern suspèn per primera vegada en una enquesta del CEO
CAT - Ara: CiU vota 'no' a la investidura de Rajoy

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