Monday, January 24

ERC could knock down the Budgets in the Senate … but it does not have it easy

Is the threat of Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya a bluff? Can you knock down the General State Budgets for 2022 in the Senate if you do not tie a new agreement with the Government about the audiovisual law? Can it wreck the project if socialists and purple do not extend the protection quota for Catalan, Basque or Galician to giants like Netflix, HBO or Amazon Prime Video? The answer is yes. But with many nuances. A hypothetical no to the accounts in the upper house can prosper if supported by the PP and other minority formations, although reaching that magic figure of 133 senators —Absolute majority— is not that simple.

But it is also true that, if it succeeds, the Executive would have to be used thoroughly to lift that veto already back in Congress, because it would require an absolute majority (176 deputies), which would not be guaranteed, because the PGE went ahead last Thursday of the San Jerónimo race with 188 supporters, but if the 13 of ERC – assuming no more groups are picked up – the sum would remain at 175 seats, to one of the absolute. In short, Pedro Sánchez faces a path that is not impossible, but with more obstacles than anticipated. And, of course, it will not be the military walk that I dreamed of if it does not channel, and quickly, the negotiation with ERC.

1. What does the veto mean in the Senate?

The legislative procedure in the Senate is not exactly the same as in Congress. When a government bill (in the case of the PGE) or a bill (drafted by the groups) is approved by the lower house, the Senate has two months to approve it (with or without amendments) or to oppose its veto, either to the whole text or to some of its parts.

The Table of the Upper House, chaired by the socialist Ander Gil, already approved on November 10 the Budget processing schedule for 2022. And it established that the deadline for submitting general veto proposals and the sections would be extended until 12 noon on Friday, December 3. The debate on the veto proposals will start in the plenary session that will begin on Thursday, December 9, just after the Constitution bridge.

The article 122 of the Senate regulations establishes the following: “For the approval of a veto proposal, the favorable vote of the absolute majority of senators“And if it is approved,” the president of the Senate will conclude the debate on the affected project, and will communicate it to the presidents of the Government and the Congress of Deputies, transferring the text of the proposal to them. ”

If, on the other hand, the plenary session of the upper house does not approve any veto, the bill keep arguing in presentation and commission, until the text is studied again in plenary session as of December 21. If the Senate introduces modifications, these will have to be endorsed or rejected by Congress. If no changes are made, the text is definitively approved and published in the BOE. This last option is the one that the Government had thought about: that the wording that came out of Congress did not undergo a change as it passed through the upper house and from there it would go to the BOE.

2. Is CKD within your reach to knock down the PGE?

Yes and no. In Congress, all the amendments of totality presented by the groups are voted on together. In the Senate, on the other hand, the vetoes are voted one by one, but it can happen, as in fact it already happened in the time of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero in Moncloa, that the PP supports the proposals of other formations in order to inflict a punishment to the Government. Between 2004 and 2011, the Socialist Executive saw its Budgets knocked down in the Senate on four occasions: in those of 2005 and 2011 the BNG veto was successful; in those of 2008, the partial veto of CiU to the Housing section triumphed, and in those of 2009 ERC no. came forward.

How is the Senate made up today? It seats 265 honorable members, for which the absolute majority stands at 133 votes. The PSOE has 114 seats. It is followed by the PP (100), the ERC-EH Bildu group (16), PNV (10), Izquierda Confederal (Adelante Andalucía, Compromís, Més per Mallorca, Geroa Bai, Más Madrid and Agrupación Socialista Gomera), with 6; Junts-Coalición Canaria (6), Ciudadanos-Teruel Existe-PRC (6) and Mixed (Vox, PAR, UPN and two former independent Cs), with 7. Socialists and PNV add 124 senators, and they would need nine more to reach an absolute majority. In the upper house, the PSOE has several lordships from like-minded parties, but it does not have United We Can, because it was left without representation. Adding Compromís (1), Más Madrid (1), ASG (1), Teruel Existe (2), PRC (1) and Aragonese Party (1) it would reach 131.

ERC has 14 own senators (The other two from his group are provided by Bildu, who last week supported the Budgets but who also feels concerned by the linguistic issue). The 100 parliamentarians of the PP could join him, plus JxCat-CC (6), Cs (3), Vox (3), the two independents and UPN (1). It would be 129, or 131 if the two from Bildu are added. The key is therefore held by Adelante Andalucía, Més and Geroa Bai. Three seats that can tip the balance.

Arithmetically, the front of the is not possible, but politically it is not so simple build that alliance.

3. What happens if the Senate vetoes the PGE?

If a veto of the entire bill or one of its sections is successful, then the text returns intact to Congress. The Article 122 of the Rules of Procedure of the Lower House indicates what the next step is: “In the event that the Senate has opposed its veto to a bill, the debate will be adjusted to what is established for the totality. Once the debate is over, the text initially approved by the Congress and, if ratified by the favorable vote of the absolute majority of the members of the Chamber, the veto will be lifted. ”

But “if this majority is not obtained, it will be put to the vote again, two months after the interposition of the veto.” “If in this vote the project achieved simple majority of the votes cast, the veto will also be lifted; otherwise, the project will be rejected “, the article continues.

In the lower house, the bipartisan took forward the bill with 188 votes and the support of 11 parties: PSOE (120 deputies), United We Can (34, one less, because the vacancy of Alberto Rodríguez remains unfilled), ERC ( 13), PNV (6), Bildu (5), PDECat (4), Más País-Equo (2), Compromís (1), Regionalist Party of Cantabria (1), Nueva Canarias (1) and Teruel Existe (1) . If all 13 Republican seats were erased, the account would go down to 175 deputies, to one of the absolute majority, unless UP found Alberto Rodríguez a replacement. But ERC usually acts in a coordinated way with Bildu, so that the Government could suffer to lift the veto.

4 What will happen then now?

That the Government of Pedro Sánchez is obliged to negotiate time trial, no matter how much it distinguishes between Budgets and audiovisual law. On Friday the deadline for the presentation of vetoes ends, and there will be the first test to overcome. If you do not avoid the ERC no, you will have to try to prevent any general veto or the sections in the plenary session that begins on the 9th.

But, as sources from the Socialist Group in the upper house warned, even if this first phase is overcome, the mess could continue if the fissure with ERC has not been closed. Because Republicans could join other groups to approve partial amendments. This would throw the government’s plans out of line, which aspired not to endorse any modification in the Senate. If the upper house approves changes, the bill I would go back to Congress, which can only ratify or reject them to return to the original text, but the plenary cannot introduce transactional ones. So the majority of the bipartisan legislature still lacks several resistance tests. Everything will depend on the conversations with ERC in the next few hours, in the next few days.

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