The PP keeps its hand outstretched to the President of the Government to move forward, in Congress, increased investment in defense which has been committed to NATO at the recent summit in Madrid. The offer was announced by the leader of the popular, Alberto Nunez Feijooand it has been reiterated in the last hours, but –and here is the novelty– with significant conditions. It will not be “a blank check”, they warn from the PP. And even less to give Sánchez oxygen at the head of an open government on this issue, with the PSOE in favor of increasing military spending and the other half, United We Can, denying it and the Atlantic Alliance itself.
The PP publicly exposed its conditions in this regard this Saturday, through the mouth of its deputy secretary of Institutional Policy, Esteban Gonzalez Pons, during a match event held in Valencia. González Pons was emphatic in assuring that the PP, due to State responsibility and political conviction, is willing to support the Government to fulfill that commitment to NATO. But, he insisted, it will be a support to the Government, not to Sánchez. So, if it is not the full government that defends this increase in military spending, in principle the PP would not be for the work of giving Sánchez oxygencome to his parliamentary rescue on a crucial issue like this and that, once the embarrassment is saved, he continues to preside over a Government that does not support the defense policy within the Atlantic Alliance in a united and undivided way.
Sánchez’s tightrope walks
The matter is not minor. As reported by ABC, to meet the goal of reaching 2% of GDP dedicated to military spending, Spain must double its current budget effort in this field. This year it plans to dedicate 13,136 million euros, but would have to be of the order of 26,000 million to meet that threshold of 2% of Gross Domestic Product. Sánchez promised to do so at the NATO summit, despite knowing that he does not have the approval of Podemos, his government partners. Yes indeed, I trust the fulfillment of that commitment between now and the year 2029. So, although a significant increase in this regard should begin to appear in the 2023 State budget, the bulk remains for whoever governs in the next legislature. The general elections, if they are not brought forward, will take place in November of next year. But first it is time to approve new state budgets, and Podemos is already threatening not to support them if military spending is triggered to comply with the Atlantic Alliance.
The PP is aware that, for them, it is a double-edged sword to support Sánchez without further ado in order to comply with the increase in military spending that it has committed to with NATO. On the one hand, it is a measure that the popular support programmatically. But, on the other, they are aware that the PSOE could take advantage of it to save their image and take political advantage of it after having shielded itself in power with the radical left and the independence movement.
The PP puts pressure
For this reason, González Pons insisted on setting conditions, marking distances and putting pressure on Sánchez. Confront him, in short, with his own government contradictions with the elections already on the horizon. The PP, warned its deputy secretary for Institutional Policy, is not going to give the leader of the PSOE “a blank check that serves not to defend NATO but to defend Sánchez from his partners.”
“The PP is a State party, which supports the Government of that State, and not a part,” explained González Pons. So, “if the Government wants the PP’s vote” to comply with NATO, “the PP hopes that the Government’s proposal is coherent, and we will support the Government for reasons of State.”
That is to say, in the first place it has to be the Executive who demands the help of the popular ones. And, secondly, it must be a position shared by the Government as a whole, without fissures like those that currently exist regarding NATO and investment in defense. “If Pedro Sánchez asks us for the vote so that we defend him from his partners within the Government, that is not a State policy, but rather the salvation of ‘soldier Sánchez'”González Pons affirmed.
These statements tense the possibility of a parliamentary agreement between the PSOE and the PP, because it is no longer a two-way negotiation. It should not be the PSOE but the Government, and the Executive does not have a unified voice in this regard, with the Socialists on the one hand and, on the other, the United We Can coalition, which in turn does not have a totally unequivocal position on the matter. While the vice president Yolanda Diaz He avoids showing himself openly against NATO, despite his communist militancy, the leader of the PCE and Secretary of State, Enrique Santiago, shows himself publicly against NATO. The ministers of Podemos, Ione Belarra and Irene MonteroThey also do not hide their active phobias against the Atlantic Alliance and their opposition to the increase in military spending now sought by Sánchez.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism