Government of the Socialist Party in Spain: Spanish PM: “The decision is made. We will soon be exhuming Franco’s remains ”| Spain


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Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez spoke today at a special session of Congress to explain his government program, a month and a half after coming to power following a historic vote of no confidence against the government of Mariano Rajoy, of the Popular Party (PP).

The leader of the Socialist Party (PSOE) has been criticized by political groups in the lower house, including some who helped him win the vote of no confidence. The PP accused Sánchez of being indebted to Catalan and Basque separatists, while leftists say he is already reneging on promises such as the publication of the names of tax evaders.

He disappoints us soon. Too early

Pablo Echenique, Podemos

In his speech, Sánchez spoke about democratic renewal, social policies and Spain’s role in the world. He also announced a ban on future tax amnesties and a 15% corporate tax for large companies. The Prime Minister also pledged to transfer the remains of former dictator Francisco Franco from his current burial site in the Valley of the Fallen, outside of Madrid.

“I want to tell you that the political decision of this government has been made,” he told Congress. “We will be exhuming the remains of dictator Franco from the Valley of the Dead, and that – barring last minute changes in the means that will make this possible – will take place in a very short period of time. The wounds have been open for many years, too many, and the time has come to close them. Our democracy will have symbols that unite citizens.

Sánchez also spent time talking about the situation in Catalonia, which he has listed as a priority for his administration.

PP spokesman Rafael Hernando addressing Congress.Europe Press

“The priority objective of this government is to reduce the crisis in Catalonia. There are political alternatives that deserve to be explored, ”he said, citing“ a frank and direct dialogue with the guarantees of the Catalan Statute and the Constitution. Dialogue is not the same as giving in. July 9 Sánchez met Catalan Prime Minister Quim Torra, an outright separatist, during a meeting that symbolized the thaw of the rarefied relations between Madrid and Barcelona.

The PSOE leader spoke about housing, jobs and pensions in a speech that highlighted the importance of the welfare state and the growing relevance of women in his own government – which has the most women ministers of all Spanish cabinets – and in society as a whole.

“The key to our social protection model is pensions,” he said. “The sustainability of our retirement system must be based on an evolution of our production model, on a model that does not penalize permanent contracts. And vocational training must play a leading role. And we want to create 20,000 subsidized housing units that will serve as rental housing indefinitely. “

The key to our social protection model are pensions

PM Pedro Sánchez

But Sánchez admitted he would not publish the list of taxpayers who benefited from the latest tax amnesty. “I hope so,” he said, drawing criticism from Podemos and other congressional parties. (see bottom box)

“Pedro Sánchez has promised more than 10 times during his campaign that once in government he will publish the list of PP tax amnesty fraudsters,” said Pablo Echenique, head of Podemos. “Sánchez is now in government, and he has just told Congress that he will not publish it. He disappoints us soon. Too early.”

“A month and a half to hear about your government plan,” said Toni Roldán of the Ciudadanos party. “In those 56 minutes, I have yet to hear a single reform to address the three big bottlenecks that prevent progress in this country: jobs, education, institutions. You cannot live on gestures forever.

But the biggest verbal blows came from the PP, which was overthrown from power following a damning court ruling on a large corruption case known as Gürtel.

“You have to constantly satisfy the partners who keep you in government without the legitimacy of the ballot box,” said PP spokesman Rafael Hernando, alluding to parties whose support helped drive Rajoy out of power, and the fact that Sánchez a no plans to organize early elections but rather wants to serve the remainder of the term. “You have already appointed more ministers and senior officials than the number of seats you have in this house. “

Naming tax evaders: not an option

Jesús Sérvulo González

While leading the opposition, Sánchez insisted that if he entered government he would publish the names of those who requested the 2012 tax amnesty introduced by the PP. But legal experts have confirmed that this could not be done because it would violate the rules of confidentiality and also because the statute of limitations for any wrongdoing relating to these tax returns has expired.

“I don’t understand what the effect would be of publishing completely expired tax returns since November 2016,” said Miguel Pérez de Ayala, tax lawyer.

On Tuesday, Sánchez admitted he would not honor his old engagement. “Unfortunately, it is not possible to review the files which requested the tax amnesty. I would love to, believe me, but we can certainly avoid future tax amnesties. “

The Prime Minister announced a bill that will fight tax evasion by tackling major fraudsters, update the list of global tax havens and ban new tax amnesties. “A first-rate welfare state requires a first-rate tax system, not a third,” Sánchez said.

Amnesty has been one of the most controversial measures introduced by the Rajoy administration. Faced with a prolonged economic crisis, soaring borrowing costs and the prospect of a bailout, the government announced the measure as a means of raising a target of around 2.5 billion euros. But even though there were 31,500 requests, the state only made 1.2 billion euros. Former finance minister Cristóbal Montoro ultimately apologized for the initiative and said it was a mistake.

english version by Susana Urra.

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