The tortuous reform of the Citizen Security law, known as gag law, is heading towards the fiasco. The meeting of the Interior Commission of the Congress, which this Tuesday must agree if the paper to modify the norm approved by the Government of Mariano Rajoy in 2015 is sent in full, is doomed to failure after the two parties on which it depends For the project to go ahead, ERC and EH Bildu have publicly announced that they will vote against it “in the terms” in which it is currently written. The failure is no surprise for the three parties that continue to support the reform -PSOE, Unidad Podemos and PNV-, since last week the last attempt to reach an agreement failed due to the irreconcilable positions in four articles of the norm and , above all, on the issue of the use of rubber bullets by the State Security Forces to deal with street riots.
The negotiation fiasco, which has lasted more than a year, was publicly formalized on Monday by the ERC spokesman, Mata Vilalta, at the party’s usual press conference: “ERC cannot assume the reform of a law that is falls short; We are not going to endorse what we prohibited here 10 years ago (in reference to rubber balls). We are surprised that the Commons (the brand of Unidas Podemos in Catalonia) do do so”. However, Vilalta left a small loophole open to a possible last-minute negotiation to bridge the differences, but moments later he threw a jug of cold water on these expectations by stating that “they are not foreseen. (…) We have noted a lack of political ambition to withdraw its parts (from the gag law) more harmful”.
In the same line, EH Bildu had stated a day before through the mouth of his deputy spokesman in Congress, Oskar Matute: “We continue to demand the total repeal of the gag law. The question is why others have renounced keeping their word. If the nuclear and most harmful elements of the Gag Law do not disappear, we will not support the reform. The pressures and the noise will not work with us, ”he stressed. This Monday, sources from the parliamentary group confirmed that the position is still to vote against and added that in recent days there had been no movement to try to bridge the differences between the groups in favor of the reform.
With the votes against ERC and Bildu, the parliamentary arithmetic of the Interior Commission – where the vote is weighted, that is, providing its representation in the parliamentary arc – confirms the failure of the change. PSOE, Unidas Podemos and PNV, the three parties that support the text to be debated, add 18 supports. Opposite they already had the opposite vote of PP (nine), Vox (five), Ciudadanos (one), Grupo Mixto (one, which exercises UPN) and Grupo Plural (one, which exercises Junts, a party that has participated in the negotiations, but that he announced a long time ago that he would vote against it). In total, 17, one less. For this reason, the direction of the vote of both ERC and EH Bildu (both had to support the initiative or abstain, because in the event of a tie it would not pass the process either) was key. The confirmation of the last few hours that both will show their rejection with a ‘no’ leads the reform to failure.
The Socialists focus the responsibility for the failure on ERC, which they accuse of not giving in to some supposed maximalist positions on the issue of rubber balls – or a ban on their use or nothing – “despite the effort made by the PSOE”. They refer, specifically, to the last attempt, made last week, to reach an agreement on the four points of the law that still has not been agreed. Despite the pessimism that existed this Monday in the parliamentary group, Pilar Alegría, spokesperson for the PSOE Electoral Committee and Minister of Education, tried in an appearance before the press to leave a small margin for a last-minute surprise: “He is in Congress and we We have never lost hope in anything.”
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In the PNV, which was the party that promoted the reform, the position is more pessimistic. “At the moment we have no news of any change (in the negotiation). Except for surprise, tomorrow (for this Tuesday) it will fall”, sources from his group in Congress pointed out to this newspaper. From Unidas Podemos they have been trying to value the 36 agreements reached in other articles of the norm in the face of the four discrepancies for some time. His representative in the negotiations, the deputy Enrique Santiago, had an impact a few days ago on the role of his group: “In all this time, Unidas Podemos has made a great effort to achieve a rapprochement of positions and we have been by far the group that has made the most proposals.” has put on the table to achieve this”.
The discrepancies between the parties in favor of the reform center on three articles and an additional provision. Specifically, those referring to the use by the Security Forces of riot control material and, specifically, of rubber balls (article 23); the one that sets the sanctions for lack of respect to the agents (article 37.4); the one that sanctions “disobedience or resistance to the authority or its agents” (article 36.6), and the additional provision that guarantees the rejections, known as hot returns, of migrants at the land borders of Ceuta and Melilla.
However, the one that has finally made the agreement impossible has been the first. The PSOE and the PNV want to keep them; ERC, EH Bildu and Junts demand to ban them; and Unidas Podemos has sought intermediate positions to reach an agreement. At the end of the presentation, the Socialists opened up for the first time to introduce an additional provision on “police management and riot material” which stated that the Ministry of the Interior should prepare “a study on the use of riot material”, without expressly citing these projectiles much less a future replacement of them by foam projectiles ―known as foam― supposedly less harmful and already used by the Mossos d’Esquadra in Catalonia (where they are the only ones they can use) and the Ertzaintza in the Basque Country.
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