The Government has obtained this Wednesday sufficient support to continue advancing in the processing of the gag law reform in the Congress of Deputies. At the last moment, ERC has decided to sign the draft of the new law prepared in the presentation to “give room” for the negotiations between the Government and the rest of the groups to continue advancing, but they maintain, together with EH Bildu, the same red lines that they have been transferring from the beginning of the negotiation: the prohibition of rubber balls, hot returns and sanctions for lack of respect for authority and disobedience to State security agents and forces.
Jon Iñarritu: “The PSOE does not unblock the gag law because it is hostage to the protests of the police unions”
During the last weeks, the “working group” in which the government parties and their partners sit had intensified the meetings in order to advance on a text that would satisfy everyone. In the meetings, some important advances had been made until reaching an agreement on about 96% of the law, according to sources familiar with the negotiation. But in all those contacts the clashes had always been maintained for the same points: article 23.4 to prohibit the use of rubber balls; 36.6 on sanctions for disobedience to agents; 37.4 that seeks to eliminate or at least objectify sanctions for disrespect for authority and an additional provision to put an end to hot returns.
The groups have arrived this Wednesday at a new meeting of the Congress report from which the report for the Interior Commission should come out. For that to happen, the text had to add to the signatures of PSOE, Unidas Podemos and the Basque Nationalist Party, satisfied with the articles agreed to so far, those of at least one of the groups that are raising issues with the text. ERC has finally signed the report, but simply to allow the negotiations to continue in the commission and without endorsing the content of the reform as it is right now. “Obviously we do not agree on how the text of the reform of the gag law is currently, because the articles that contemplate 70% of the fines are still alive,” said the rapporteur for the Republicans, Maria Dantas, at the end of the meeting. of this Tuesday.
The party assures that if these points are not changed, the vote for the law will be against: “This does not mean that from ERC we have reached an agreement. Our vote is still ‘no’ to the text as it has been until now”, Dantas insisted, adding that what they do not want “under any circumstances” is to get up from the table. “We want to continue the dialogue and that there is movement, especially from the PSOE”, he has settled.
EH Bildu has spoken along the same lines. Party sources affirm that “the fact that it goes to commission does not mean that there is an agreement on the most sensitive points.” From the formation they express that this step that has been carried out this Wednesday with their vote against “gives the opportunity to continue negotiating” so that the PSOE accepts their proposals, although they are pessimistic: “We have no symptoms that they are going to accept what which up to now they have rejected. The deputy of EH Bildu Jon Iñarritu has said in statements to the media that the lack of agreement has been confirmed “on the most harmful articles of the gag law”. The speaker has indicated that the debates, from now on will be in committee, “but the blockade, unfortunately, continues.”
“I hope that now in committee a consensus is reached to deactivate the most harmful points”, Iñarritu has expressed, adding that if the text remains as it is now, EH Bildu “will not support” what they describe as “light gag law ”. From the formation they accuse the PSOE of maintaining these points “giving a wide margin of interpretation to the State Security Forces and Corps.”
Negotiations were stalled
In recent days, the negotiations were already stalled despite the fact that, according to negotiating sources, there were contacts between the leaderships of the parties to unblock the most controversial issues. With the prospect of a possible breakout, the formations had focused on preparing the ground to hold the rest accountable. The socialist spokesman, Patxi López, slipped this Tuesday at a press conference that some groups were blocking the reform due to “political or electoral strategies.” “With the agreements reached so far, it can no longer be called a gag law,” he said in statements to journalists, while he warned that these advances could be lost. If that happens, he said, “those responsible will not be the PSOE or the Government.”
The organic law that was admitted for processing in Congress and on which the groups are working was drafted by the PNV. This Tuesday, his spokesman, Aitor Esteban, considered that the reform had reached “the moment of truth” and criticized, in a similar vein to that of López, that some parties were in “stubbornness” and maximalist positions.
In order to bridge the differences between the position of the PSOE, which does not want to move on the remaining points, and that of the Basque and Catalan independentistas, the reform rapporteur, the deputy spokesman for Unidas Podemos, Enrique Santiago, has tried to mediate with some intermediate proposals. Sources close to him state that UP is going to exhaust “dialogue until the last moment” in order to bring positions closer, but they defend the “work done so far” and think that a “very small number of specific issues” cannot be “obscure” the progress of what has been achieved so far. Esteban valued these “intermediate” proposals on Tuesday, especially those raised about rubber balls and lack of respect and disobedience, which he believes “are interesting and can serve to advance.”