Changes in Health and Industry: party (PSOE) before government

pedro sanchez preocupado

Fernando González Urbaneja | The mini Cabinet reshuffle is irrelevant: two ministers are leaving, two more are coming in, and none of them will leave their mark on the government. Traditionally we call any change of government a crisis, but this latest one has no more to it than the convenience of the Socialist Party to embellish, at least in appearance, its electoral offer.

Two ministers are leaving to head municipal lists in Madrid and Las Palmas, which are important places, and two ministers are coming in in gratitude for services rendered elsewhere and to prepare them for new assignments in Galicia and the Canary Islands. The internal logic of the changeover is mere party dynamics, subordination of the executive to the party. The same logic that has presided over the recent appointments to both regulatory bodies – including the Constitutional Court – and the Civil Guard.

This logic does nothing to contribute to the quality of democracy, to confidence in the institutions. The fact that political parties are at the bottom of citizens’ ratings does not lead the government to contain its desire to control and occupy the institutions. This government is doing so, perhaps with more enthusiasm and intensity than previous ones. If the changeover in the Guardia Civil last week was striking, what has happened now is no less so. The two ministers transferred to win votes a few months before the end of their ordinary term of office leave room for two other party colleagues to make their mark.

And one of the most striking aspects is that of health, a portfolio that is empty of content – as the pandemic showed – but which is one of the issues that most concerns Spaniards and which requires specialisation, that is, arriving at the post with lessons learned, with a CV that demonstrates knowledge.

The health sector (five ministers in five years) is nothing new; it is the portfolio with the greatest volatility during the democracy (26 ministers in 46 years), but the current situation borders on the absurd, as it doubles the “mortality rate”: from one minister every 20 months to one every 12 months – what nonsense! Yet the outgoing and incoming ministers are hailed as “excellent” in their performance.

Putting the party ahead of the government shows legal insecurity, lack of strategy and disdain for the constitutional spirit. Ortega y Gasset would repeat “no es esto, no es esto”.

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.