The legislative production of the coalition government moves in figures very similar to those of the executives with an absolute majority. At the beginning of the current political cycle, defined by the agreement between Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias to govern, from some sectors, especially the conservatives, a short and unstable legislature was predicted.
The argument was based on a Coalition government in parliamentary minority (155 seats between the PSOE and Unidas Podemos) was not going to be able to carry out its measures. Three years later, the Executive, with the support of the so-called investiture block (which has seen its numbers increase in the General Budget votes), has approved a number of initiatives very similar to previous legislatures governed by a single party that had absolute majorities or, at least, very large ones.
Specifically, according to data extracted from the Congress of Deputies and the Executive, the Government has managed to move forward 176 laws. The last three, this same Thursday: Law of the Railway Sector, Law of promotion of Emerging Companies Startups and Law of Evaluation of Public Policies. The first came in December 2019, through Royal Decree-Law 18/2019, which adopted “certain measures in tax, cadastral and social security matters”.
Of those 176 laws mentioned, 87 are bills and 89 are royal decree-laws; the latter, validated by the Congress of Deputies (for which they have obtained the support of a sufficient majority of parliamentarians).
The dimension of this legislative production It can only be glimpsed if compared to that of previous political cycles. Broadly speaking, the period between 2015 and 2019 was a time of political instability and changes that reduced the approval of laws to a minimum and led the Lower House to a legislative drought without precedent in a democracy.
In this period, however, a situation similar to that of the current coalition government took place: between 2016 and 2018, Mariano Rajoy’s PP governed with a parliamentary minority in Congress that forced him to reach grand agreements to promote measures. The conservative Executive had at that time 137 seats in the Chamber, 17 more than the PSOE currently has. With Ciudadanos, who was not within the government, the sum was 169 deputies (14 more than those of PSOE and Unidas Podemos).
In those two years, the Rajoy government approved 38 laws, of which eight were bills and 30 corresponded to decrees. Between 2011 and 2016 there was the last absolute majority of a party to date, that of Mariano Rajoy, who obtained 186 seats and a conservative hegemony in the Congress of Deputies. In those four years, the Executive approved a total of 202 laws (126 bills and 76 decrees). With about a year to go before the general elections are held, Sánchez could reach or come very close to this figure.
Between 2008 and 2011, the last legislature of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, which had 169 socialist deputies in Congress (seven of the absolute majority) and which also had to reach agreements to promote measures, although its majority was much broader than that of Rajoy in 2016 or that of Sánchez in the present. The Zapatero Executive approved in that period 165 laws (114 bills and 51 decrees).
In their first legislature (2004-2008), the Socialists formed the Executive with 164 deputies. Zapatero then approved 165 laws (119 bills and 52 decrees). In the previous legislature, the last of Jose Maria Aznar as president, the PP won 183 seats. The Executive with an absolute conservative majority approved a total of 179 laws (137 bills and 42 decrees).
Between 1996 and 2000 Aznar governed with 156 deputies (a parliamentary minority in Congress that forced him to reach agreements and pacts with other formations). In that period, the Executive of the PP approved 232 laws (151 bills and 85 decrees).
In Moncloa, the argument of the large number of legislative initiatives approved as defense and example of its stability is used on a recurring basis. Given the usual questions about the state of the coalition and the relations between PSOE and Unidas Podemos, it is usually one of the first responses of any member of the Executive of the socialist wing. “The health of the coalition can be seen because many things have been done and will continue to be done,” they explain in the environment of the president of Pedro Sánchez.
In addition to all these laws, Moncloa has also highlighted the importance of getting approval of the third General State Budgets (PGE). In addition, at this point he has managed to add some support more than what Sánchez had at his inauguration. PSOE, Unidas Podemos, ERC, PNV, EH Bildu, PDeCAT, Más País, Coalición Canaria, Compromís and PRC approved the accounts. A total of 10 different political forces in what the president described as a “victory of understanding.”
Continuity in the public accounts and a smooth coalition beyond cross-statements is something that contrasts with other governments in right-wing regional coalition, which have not achieved such milestones. And they also tend to remember in Moncloa that this is a phenomenon that is not very common in the countries of our European environment at a time of great instability and uncertainty.