Nobody disputes it internally in the Government anymore. The rise in the price of electricity has become the great political issue of the new season, and threatens to complicate the fall and especially the winter for the Executive. The internal tension is very strong and the positions of the two partners are becoming clearer and more distant. The pressure will continue in the coming weeks until a middle way is found, because no one is betting on the rupture. But the agreement is far away. With the debate on the minimum wage, which divided the government for months, practically resolved, it is now the light that focuses the political dispute in the coalition.
The president, Pedro Sánchez, clearly showed this Wednesday that he is determined to support the vice president, Teresa Ribera, who flatly rejects the proposals of United We Can to fix the price of nuclear energy, as France does, and limit that of the hydroelectric. Sánchez admitted the Government’s concern with this matter, but claimed responsibility for the measures taken and hoped that they would begin to take effect. Even so, all the scenarios are on the table and La Moncloa is pressing hard on the Ministry of Ecological Transition, led by Ribera, to also seek solutions in the short term, not only in the medium or long term.
The socialist sector of the Government does not accept the idea of United We can already approve by royal decree the law that eliminates the so-called “benefits fallen from the sky”, and is committed to expediting the processing of this rule in Congress. The Moncloa and Ecological Transition prefer that the reform be approved in the lower house, although it takes longer, to have more legal guarantees, since the electricity companies turn everything to the courts and often win, as has happened with the 1,400 million euros that the State will have to pay for a measure taken with the Government of Mariano Rajoy.
What is losing strength is the idea that Unidos Podemos was going to promote mobilizations against the Government in this matter, something that has been diluted with the hours. “Governments are there to govern and make decisions and society to demonstrate if it deems it appropriate,” said Yolanda Díaz, second vice president and strong woman of United We Can. Leaders of this group consulted believe that the pressure will be mainly internal and they trust that the PSOE will end up moving in view of the fact that the bill will continue to rise.
Light was an important issue at the inauguration of the political course that Sánchez starred in this Wednesday at the Casa de América. The president insisted on the idea of ”just recovery”, the great motto for the coming weeks. But one of the obstacles to achieving it is the increase in some prices, especially that of electricity, which affects more the working classes, the hard core of the social support of the progressive Executive.
Sánchez, who had barely spoken about this matter so far, did so in a forum with many of the country’s main businessmen in front, including the top executives of the electricity companies, such as Ignacio Sánchez Galán, president of Iberdrola, or José Bogas, director Endesa delegate, listening to you. The president answered United We Can and maintained Ribera’s position.
“It is a complex situation to which we cannot give a single answer. I am not going to waste time talking about what previous administrations did. You have to look to the future. The Government takes charge of social concern. The Government will continue to act until the price hike is solved. We have lowered the VAT, suspended the 7% tax, we have expanded the thermal social bonus for 1.1 million beneficiaries. There are pending reforms in Congress, we ask for a speedy parliamentary procedure. We operate with energy auctions. We act with direct aid for self-consumption. We are going to continue acting but within the European regulatory framework ”. This last reference is clearly directed to Yolanda Díaz’s group, which according to the Government proposes solutions outside the European legal framework.
Díaz rejects this idea. “We want to copy the French model [que regula el precio de la nuclear]. This is absolutely sustainable within European legislation ”. Electricity sources point out that they would not see badly the idea of regulating prices either, and they believe that the European Commission could be convinced, although they want to discuss that price upwards.
The great political concern of the Government
The issue of electricity has become the great political concern of the Government at this time, not only because of the internal tension it generates but above all because it is causing significant wear and tear among its electorate. Sánchez has decided that Vice President Ribera will lead the explanation, and multiply her appearances. Monday’s appearance in Congress, in which the vice president asked the electricity companies for “social empathy”, left very bad feelings within the Executive. So Ribera will make more efforts to explain.
But above all what the government needs are new impact measures to curb the pressure. And that’s what both La Moncloa and the Ribera ministry are working on. At the moment there is no announcement, but the political pressure is so strong that Executive sources assume that it will not take long.
The socialist sector is very upset with the position of United We Can, and they insist that it is not easy to take action. In addition to the fact that the electricity companies tend to resort, the European Commission can reject them as well, so the Executive goes with leaden feet.
The coalition Executive begins a new season after the summer break with important challenges on the table, such as the resumption of dialogue with Catalonia, the management of the evacuations of Spaniards and Afghan collaborators after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan or the renewal of the Judiciary. “It is not acceptable that institutions such as the Judiciary have not been renewed for 1,000 days, there are no precedents, it is not reasonable that the renewal of the Constitutional Court, the Ombudsman, the Court of Accounts remains blocked. No political formation has the right to breach its constitutional obligations, ”said Sánchez.
The Executive tries not to focus the political agenda on the Catalan crisis in the coming months. So much so that Sánchez did not say a word about this matter in his speech at the start of the political course.
Meanwhile, Podemos has the issue of light as an absolutely priority issue and is sure that it will succeed in convincing the PSOE. “We are seeing it today with the minimum wage, three months ago it was unfeasible, negative for the economy, a problem, a bad idea. And today the president is proudly announcing it. This has happened several times already. We know that to achieve things we have to persevere, ”Pablo Echenique, his parliamentary spokesman, told EL PAÍS.