Sánchez’s Credibility

Just Sanchez

Fernando González Urbaneja | The ‘smokescreen’ of pardons is amortised, barring a highly unlikely judicial setback following appeals by opposition parties. The Sánchez government has offered a gesture to the independentistas, who have had no public recognition, with obvious political cost as shown in the polls. For the first time in two years, the PP is ahead of the PSOE in the polls, although this is not very relevant for now. Socialist attrition is perhaps less than that feared by the Moncloa strategists, who are confident they will recover as the economy improves.

Moreover, both in the dissident part of socialism and in social and professional groups, pardons have been accepted as the lesser evil, as a narrow and uncertain path to calm, to pacify and to return to dialogue with the pro-independence supporters. A truce for Sánchez, albeit provisional and temporary, which is valuable for his way of doing politics.

What was discussed in Parliament on Wednesday was not the pardons (they are a fait accompli) but the content of the negotiation between Sánchez and Aragonés-Junqueras. The basic issue is the one raised by the pro-independence supporters: self-determination, one of the taboos of the pro-independence movement that they try to sustain in a non-existent international law.

Sánchez was blunt in Congress: no self-determination, it is not possible. On this point his position is the same as Rajoy’s (neither can nor will). For the PSOE it would be suicide to take that path and Sánchez knows it. The question now is what his model is, does he have a roadmap, does he know where he wants to go? For that there is no answer; his defenders argue that the PP’s strategy was ruinous and that any other strategy has a better chance. They are not without reason and evidence, but there is no roadmap and any solution requires a broad consensus that is not in sight today.

Congress made it clear on Tuesday that the President’s credibility is very low. He has reduced the internal socialist opposition but his parliamentary and government allies, those who support him, have little appreciation for him. They support him out of necessity, to avoid worse evils and can leave him alone when it suits them.

Without credibility, he will not get very far, not beyond the day-to-day, beyond a minimal agreement on pensions that has the sole merit of pure agreement, the scenography in the Moncloa for show. Dialogue is an instrumental value, it serves to reach agreements and underpin credibility. And there is very little evidence of this.

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.