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POLITICS

PM performs U-turn and agrees to report on EU meetings in Congress

Spain’s caretaker government has been refusing to submit to oversight by deputies

Mariano Rajoy at a rally earlier this month.
Mariano Rajoy at a rally earlier this month.

In a U-turn on its earlier position, Spain’s caretaker government has decided it will now submit to congressional oversight.

Acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has asked to appear in the lower house to report on the two latest meetings of the European Council, which Spain attended.

Until now, Rajoy had been refusing to inform Congress about international gatherings that made decisions on sensitive issues such as expelling refugees back to Turkey.

What the government is really doing is averting a move by all other parties in Congress to force Rajoy’s appearance

But late on Monday, the executive filed a petition in Congress requesting “the appearance of the acting prime minister before Congress so that, in an extraordinary manner given the urgency of the matter and the fact that he is in an acting capacity, he may report on the content of the issues discussed at the European Council of March 17 and 18 in Brussels.”

What the government is really doing is averting a move by all other parties in Congress to force Rajoy’s appearance on Wednesday.

However, the executive warned that it was making an exception on this occasion, and would not be submitting to oversight on ordinary matters of government.

The Popular Party (PP) feels that this attitude is justified because the executive is a caretaker team.

The executive warned that it was making an exception on this occasion and would not be submitting to oversight on ordinary matters of government

As such, acting Defense Minister Pedro Morenés recently failed to show up at a committee session to discuss a NATO summit. It was the first time that a member of government had deliberately ignored a parliamentary request to offer public explanations about his work.

The opposition has already said it will take the matter up with the Constitutional Court on the grounds that the executive is preventing the lower house from doing its job – which includes keeping tabs on the government’s actions.

But the concession on the European Council sessions could make it harder to say no to other congressional petitions for explanations. The Socialist Party has already asked for acting economy minister Luis de Guindos to provide details about the Stability Plan that he will take to the EU.

The face-off between the conservative government and the opposition dates back to the inconclusive December 20 election, which yielded a hung parliament.

Despite three months of cross-party negotiations, Spain so far seems no closer to getting a new prime minister. If no deal is reached by May 2, parliament will be dissolved and a fresh election called for late June.

English version by Susana Urra.

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