Escrivá will seek the support of Bildu and ERC to approve pensions by decree
It is possible that the team from the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations made a toast after the meeting held this Thursday with the Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz, and the leader of Unidas Podemos, Ione Belarra, in which they managed to close an agreement for the second part of the pension reform. Not having parliamentary support to carry out the commitments made with the European Commission has been a ‘toothache’ for José Luis Escrivá, who has also taken longer than necessary. However, the support of his government partners favors the rapprochement of the rest of the forces on the left, especially that of EH Bildu and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC).
The Social Security portfolio has opted for the route of the royal decree to carry out the second leg of the pension reformHowever, this did not relieve him of the need to gather a sufficient majority to obtain the validation of the text in the Congress of Deputies, once it was approved in the Council of Ministers. In addition, the calendar ran against him since the vote in the Chamber has to take place in less than 30 days from the time the Government approves it and the request for the fourth payment of European funds is pressing on the horizon.
Although, once he has the support of the ‘purple’ parliamentary group, the suspicion is that his efforts will focus on convincing the investiture partners. While the support of ERC (13) and EH Bildu (5) would leave the Government at the gates of validating the text, the addition of Más País (3) to the two previous groups would make the mathematics add up, reaching the figure of 176 deputies, which is equal to the simple majority. Therefore, after the exception of the ‘only yes is yes’, the Popular Party and Vox are left without a field to put the majority party of the Executive in a bind.
In this scenario, all the criticisms that the PP may present are reduced to mere noise, since the appearance in the Toledo Pact Commission seems a mere gesture of courtesy, once the minister has ignored several recommendations of the last report. And what is more important, he has shoehorned in the expansion of the computation to calculate pensions, from 25 to 29 years – with the possibility of excluding two – that was not among them. Although this would only enter into force in a definitive way from 2043, in accordance with the proposal sent this Friday to the social agents.
Escrivá’s arduous three-party negotiation seems to have sown its fruits, given that with the green light from Brussels on the table, once public revenues and, therefore, the sustainability of the system have been guaranteed. The high probabilities of support from the parties of the pro-independence left and the support in general lines of the majority union formations, CCOO and UGT. Escrivá only leaves businessmen and the parliamentary opposition behind and dissatisfiedtwo actors who have never intended to add to their ranks.
Against all odds, it seems that the minister will be able to save the pensions by ringing the bell at the times indicated by Brussels and before reaching the legislative blackout that will be determined by the electoral call for regional and municipal elections, scheduled for the last weekend of May. The agreement, with long-term goals, seems to represent a flight forward, as the Popular Party did years ago with the 2013 reform. Thus, Escrivá complies with the entrusted task and draws up an income plan that will make the system sustainable, as long as employment is not diminished -as businessmen predict- although for then, it will be someone else who will be in charge of the portfolio and will have to make the bitter decision to apply cuts to pensioners.