Wednesday, July 28

Zarzuela, Moncloa and PP are already secretly negotiating the future of the Monarchy | Spain

King Felipe VI talks in Congress with the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, under the gaze of the president of the Lower House, Meritxell Batet, and the leader of the Popular Party, Pablo Casado, on February 23.
King Felipe VI talks in Congress with the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, under the gaze of the president of the Lower House, Meritxell Batet, and the leader of the Popular Party, Pablo Casado, on February 23.Pool

La Zarzuela, La Moncloa and the PP began to negotiate a little over a month ago, with discretion, the future of the Monarchy of Felipe VI, to give it a “less opaque profile”, according to sources familiar with this process. The first meetings have already taken place, both bilaterally between the Government and the King’s House, and in three parties with a person linked to the PP, although not in the active policy designated by Pablo Casado. PSOE and PP refuse to regulate the activities of the Royal House with a Crown Law, and focus on transparency and oversight measures. The pact will be closed only between the socialists and the popular.

Pedro Sánchez already advanced in his last appearance in 2020 that he was working “step by step” with the Casa del Rey to introduce some transparency and modernization measures in its operation and, above all, in its accountability. And this is what is being done, with the potholes and slowdowns that sometimes cause different controversies related to the king emeritus, such as the recent fiscal regularization of Juan Carlos I and the vaccination in the United Arab Emirates of the infantas Elena and Cristina, sisters of the current monarch, during a visit to his father.

The first meeting between the first vice president, Carmen Calvo, commissioned exclusively by Pedro Sánchez for these conversations, with the head of the Casa del Rey, Jaime Alfonsín, took place at the beginning of February, to design the framework for action. It was days later, in the middle of the month, when the president made a call to the leader of the opposition, Pablo Casado, for a new frustrated attempt to unblock the renewal pending more than two years ago of the General Council of the Judicial Power.

That point to resolve the update of the governing body of the judges barely advanced anything. But the president took the opportunity to comment with the leader of the PP on the situation in the face of this new crisis in the Monarchy and propose a discreet negotiation on how to promote some progress in the institution. Sánchez asked Casado to designate a person of his utmost confidence to establish these contacts. The decision to summon the PP to these agreements came from La Moncloa with “the acquiescence” of Felipe VI, according to sources involved in the process.

Pablo Casado studied the proposal and nominated a veteran leader of the PP, who is no longer in active politics and who received the approval of the Casa del Rey and La Moncloa “for their reasonable positions,” according to different sources consulted. The first three-way meeting between Alfonsín, Vice President Calvo and Casado’s envoy took place just a month ago. And with good results. Their analysis of the moment was very similar. The interlocutors are trying to preserve the identity of the PP negotiator to the maximum to avoid pressure, even internal to that party, and so that the result of the contacts is not frustrated before reaching a successful conclusion.

The Moncloa, the PSOE and the PP agree that it is now necessary to “reinforce” the current profile of the Spanish parliamentary monarchy, an institution that they consider key in the democratic fabric of the State but about which some aspects related to its opacity and scarcity concern control. President Sánchez has attended several events in recent weeks and even institutional trips to Catalonia with the Head of State, who has also played a leading role in recent tributes, for example, to the victims of terrorism. The last act of this type, last Friday in the gardens of the Royal Palace of Madrid, was attended by the president, the majority of the Government, the representatives of the main powers of the State and Pablo Casado, whom the monarch treated as leader of the opposition .

In La Zarzuela they maintain that since Felipe VI arrived at the head of the State, after the abdication of his father, he has already implemented several measures and signed agreements with the State Lawyers’ Office and the General Intervention, to carry out annual internal and external audits , which are then published on the website of the Royal House. But the government and the PP agree that, at this time, these steps are no longer enough.

More controls

The reforms that have begun to be studied have to do precisely with giving more transparency to the performance of accounts of the entire House of the King and with better narrowing down its scope of action. The idea is “to have a better known and controlled institution” and “to draw a truly more parliamentary profile”, according to the same sources.

Other sources familiar with the Royal House point out that the prior control of certain activities of the King could be approved through the National Heritage, which is the administrator of the State assets used by the King’s House. And thus the objective of controlling the expenses of the institution would be fulfilled without a very aggressive action, but with the same filters that any general direction of the Administration now has.

The talks have for now been limited to the two parties that have governed Spain in this democratic stage and the plan is to continue along that same path until the reforms have reached a high degree of consensus between the PSOE and the PP, “the two parties of the constitutional pact, ”remarked the sources familiar with the operation. When La Zarzuela, La Moncloa and the PP close the agreement, the agreement made will be presented to other formations, but for them to join if they consider it. Between the PP and the PSOE they have 200 deputies out of the 350 in Congress. Negotiators believe other groups could be added to the final deal, reaching nearly 300 non-Republican House members.

Neither the PSOE nor the PP agree to now promote a Crown Law, such as the one that parties such as United We Can and More Country seek, for fear that these formations would like to take advantage of the situation to foster a more in-depth debate on the meaning of the Monarchy and even limit the type of activities and speeches that Felipe VI could do in the future. The two parties that represent the Spanish bipartisanship intend with these improvements that they are agreeing not to leave the current monarch “in free fall because of the mistakes made by his father,” according to sources close to those conversations.

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