Podemos sinks pensions reform initiative in Congress

Police look on as 'pensionistas' protest for cost-of-living rise in retirement benefits. Photo: J.J. Guillen/EFE via El País
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A last-ditch effort prior to upcoming national elections in April to push through Congress reforms to Spain’s public pension system was torpedoed on Tuesday when left-wing party Podemos introduced a string of unforeseen last-minute amendments to a draft agreement being prepared by the so-called Pacto de Toledo congressional committee on pensions reform.

The pending reforms, which would have included a cost-of-living rise in monthly benefits payments for retired Spanish workers that has driven months of public protests by pensionistas nationwide, were drafted over months of wrangling by all political parties in Spain’s Congress.

According to the pre-agreed framework for reaching a final accord for debate and approval prior to dissolution of the current Congressional session, Podemos was to have introduced only three specific amendments to the draft agreement in Tuesday’s meeting. But, representatives for the party unexpectedly arrived at the meeting with a long list of amendments that they insisted be introduced, causing a furor among other party representatives.

The conservative Partido Popular (PP), which had been blamed for months by Podemos and the minority governing Socialist party (PSOE) of President Pedro Sánchez for delays in the Pacto de Toledo deliberations, cited the unexpected amendments demanded by Podemos as reason to cancel the meeting and delay further work on pensions reform until the next legislative session.

The result of Tuesday’s collapse of the pension-reform deliberations effectively means that the PSOE will be unable to point to successful pensions reform as an achievement of the Sánchez government during campaigning for the upcoming national elections to renew Congress on 28th April.

The original Pacto de Toledo was a 1995 agreement among all Spanish political parties and labour unions to overhaul the country’s pension system, implementing a formula of worker and employer contributions aimed to guarantee the system’s existence for future generations.

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