PM calls on opposition to “get serious” and detail plans for federal state

Socialist leader says new model would help resolve issue of Catalan independence drive

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asked the Socialists to detail their plans for a federal state in Congress on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asked the Socialists to detail their plans for a federal state in Congress on Wednesday.ULY MARTÍN (EL PAÍS)

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday asked the opposition Socialists to stop making vague calls for constitutional reform and start detailing their exact plans.

“Enough with the slogans, get serious already,” he told Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez in Congress on Wednesday morning.

The issue came up when Sánchez asked about Catalonia and the complaint being brought by state prosecutors against regional leader Artur Mas for organizing the November 9 non-binding vote on self-rule.

Sánchez reiterated that the Socialists feel the best way to deal with the Catalan independence drive is not through legal action against Catalan officials, but by changing Spain’s structure to create a “federal model” that all the current regions would be happy to be a part of. This would require reforming the Constitution first.

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Sánchez, who became the new Socialist secretary general in July on a platform of change, said that the goal of the reform is “to rebuild broken consensus, to breathe new life into our democracy, to close the gap of mistrust, to protect social rights and to respond to singularities such as the Catalan singularity.”

Rajoy asked Sánchez direct questions such as: “How is the [current] state of the autonomies different from a federal state?” “Would [the regions] have the same powers or different ones?” “Would it be a symmetrical or asymmetrical federalism?” And: “What will the financing model be?”

The main opposition party has been talking about a federal model since late 2012, when the Andalusian Socialists announced they had developed a middle-of-the-road solution that would be acceptable both to supporters of regional sovereignty and to proponents of a stronger central state.

But in all this time the Socialist Party has failed to provide specifics about how such a state model would work. At a meeting of the Socialist federal executive committee earlier this month, it emerged that the party will provide details “in the coming weeks.”

The most detailed explanation so far came in a letter published by secretary general Sánchez in EL PAÍS in September. In it, he wrote that “the state of autonomous regions needs to upgrade its constitutional provisions to incorporate a federal perspective, to assign powers clearly, to ensure a predictable and sufficient line of financing, to profoundly reform the makeup and functions of the Senate, to recognize the singularity of some of our regions, to encourage reciprocal loyalty, and to guarantee equal rights to all citizens.”

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