The commitment made yesterday by Pedro Sanchezat the closing of the NATO summit held in Madrid, so that
Spain increases its defense spending to 2 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2029, in line with the demand of the United States, threatens the approval of the next General State Budgets (PGE). Some public accounts that will be the last of the coalition government between the PSOE and United We Can. According to NATO data, Spain expects to spend 14,218 million this year on defense, but to reach 2% of GDP it should be about 28,000 million.
The head of the Executive asked yesterday at his press conference for a “country agreement” that transcends “ideological issues.”
A mixed message for both the opposition parties and the purple ones and even their parliamentary partners (ERC, Bildu, PNV, Compromís, Más País…).
But the reality is that PP, Vox and Ciudadanos are not inclined to approve the next General State Budgets, nor are Sánchez’s allies inclined to increase military spending. An increase that should begin to be applied next year, until gradually reaching 2 percent of the GDP committed to the partners of the Atlantic Alliance in 2029. And that yesterday, even, even the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, congratulated Pedro Sánchez for the “positive image” that Spain has given with the summit.
Pulse between partners
To convince allies and the opposition, Sánchez will have to use persuasive reasoning, which will undoubtedly also enter into the dialectic of electoral combat with the formations to his left. And just yesterday he left clear clues as to where he intends to go, argumentatively. with good words, He asked United We Can for a “reflection” in the face of a changing international reality since last February 24 Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine. And he reminded them of some notable changes in posture that have occurred since then. For example, he emphasized that Sweden ‘has ended 200 years of neutrality’in reference to his application to join NATO next to finland, to which the Madrid summit has precisely given a first green light, after the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, lifted his initial veto on the entry of these two countries. Or for example, the recent referendum held in denmark for which a very majority of its citizens have decided to join the Defense policy of the European Union (EU), from which this NATO member country remained on the sidelines. Or last but not least, Sánchez exemplified, Germany’s historic turn of “abandoning its traditional position on increasing defense spending.”
These three cases correspond, and he did not forget to underline it opportunely, to as many others social democratic governments, therefore co-religionists of the PSOE and although not counterparts, they are less distant than other community executives from a formation such as Podemos. “A crisis caused by Putin’s unilateral and illegal invasion of Ukraine has caused a tectonic shift in the international order. And that has to make us all reflect,” said Sánchez. “The combination between solidarity and responsibility seems fundamental to me for a country committed to the EU and also to the Atlantic Alliance,” he added.
The Rota Convention
And in case at this point in his appearance the space to the left of the PSOE –with acronyms such as IU, historically linked to the rejection of NATO– had not been taken for granted, the president was even clearer when he expressed his desire to that “it also makes some political formations think about what has been happening in Ukraine, for four months now, that maybe before this invasion they had a different opinion about NATO, or about how to defend and improve the deterrence of Europe in the face of these threats, which may have been hypothetical or abstract, but which today are very real”, he concluded.
In addition to the gradual increase in defense spending to 2% of GDP in 2029, Sánchez comes out of the NATO summit with the agreement with the US president, Joe Biden, announced at the meeting of both in La Moncloa last Tuesday, to increase the American fleet at the Rota base (Cádiz) by another two destroyers. Something that his coalition partner and of course his parliamentary partners are also suspicious of. Although in this case it will be easier for La Moncloa to carry it out, since it only requires a modification of the cooperation and defense agreement, something for which the PP has already shown its favorable disposition.
For Sánchez, “one of the lessons of this war is that safety, indispensable to preserve our model of democratic life, is not guaranteed». And for that, he explained, “we must protect it every day and dedicate economic resources to it.”
For months now, the mere holding of the NATO summit in Madrid has been a reason for discrepancy in the ruling coalition. It was even, after the Russian invasion, the sending of weapons to the Ukrainian resistance, whose announcement in a parliamentary plenary session by Sánchez surprised very negatively, sitting on the blue bench, the top leaders of Podemos and ministers of Social Rights and equality, Ione Belarra and Irene Montero, who were quick to criticize the decision that the Executive had taken in line with the countries around us. Although the other sector of an increasingly divided partner, and headed by the second vice president, Yolanda Diaztogether with the Minister of Consumption and leader of IU, Alberto Garzon, avoided adding fuel to the fire. And even she openly distanced herself from the questioning of the mere celebration of the summit in the capital of Spain made by Podemos.
In addition, a high government position such as Belarra’s number two in his ministry, and General Secretary of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE),Henry Santiagoparticipated last weekend in the demonstration promoted by various organizations against the meeting of the Alliance.
Two requirements out of three
Sánchez elaborated yesterday to explain that the increase in the budget for Defense is the only NATO requirement that Spain has not yet met. The other two are to have a presence in each and every one of the Alliance’s missions, which happens with the exception of Kosovo, whose sovereignty proclaimed in 2008 does not recognize our country. And the third, which is also fulfilled, is to exceed 20% in the purchase of new military capabilities.
In any case, the exact terms in which the Government intends to increase that defense budget over the next seven years have yet to be defined. The gradualism of the measure offers Sánchez some room for maneuver, since in the first year of that period, next 2023, an exponential increase in the money allocated to the Armed Forces would not be necessary. But it is an issue in which Podemos will not easily give in.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism