Garzón, a creator of controversies in an empty and gifted ministry
There are few ministers in the Government of Sánchez who have monopolized so few headlines for their management and so many for their occurrences. Alberto Garzón is one of them. Since he was sworn in as Minister of Consumption, in January 2020, until today, the leader of the United Left has starred in several political and media storms due to his controversial statements and attacks against economic sectors of vital importance for Spain. The last one, the meat one. So far not only has he not rectified or apologized for any of his conflicting statements, but he has always reaffirmed his opinions without giving his arm to twist despite criticism and disavowal from other members of the coalition government.
In the last month, The head of Consumption has starred in different controversies, including calling a ‘toy strike’ against sexism
through a video whose cost exceeded 80,000 euros,
recommending the purchase of roscones filled with “cream, cream” instead of a “mix of vegetable fats” or its intention to prohibit the advertising of products that children tend to consume, considering that they are unhealthy.
Whether it is the lack of skills or the excessive desire for leadership which, paraphrasing the president of Castilla-La Mancha, Emiliano García Page, “leads the devil to kill flies with his tail”, the truth is that the IU coordinator has put in War foot this week to associations of livestock farmers of the meat industry. His statements made in a British newspaper against the meat produced in Spain from intensive livestock farming They have been the icing on the cake of a cluster of occurrences that the Government allows, since he may have been dismissed in some of Sánchez’s latest remodeling, he is kept in the Executive within the Podemos quota.
The secret is set in stone. It is a pact that Félix Bolaños and Ione Belarra reached in 2020 when neither of them were ministers but they were already prominent lieutenants of their respective leaders: Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias. At that time, the structure of the Government was agreed with the ministries that corresponded to each party. Neither in the great crisis of July nor in the various adjustments in which there has been a possibility has this structure been modified. It would only be done in the event of a coalition breakdown. Thus, although with the law in hand, only Sánchez can dismiss him, in reality his position in the Government does not depend on him, but on Yolanda Díaz. And not even. Its continuity now and in the future is in the hands of the United Left.
Shortly after his 36th birthday, Alberto Garzón (Madrid, October 9, 1985) celebrated his tenth anniversary as a deputy in December. In the 2011-2015 legislature, the young Garzón was from the United Left bench an exponent of the generational renewal of politics a few months after the 15M. But still channeled through the traditional parties.
In January 2020, he became Minister of Consumption basically due to Pablo Iglesias’ need to give a fit to the parties that were part of United We Can. A coalition that became possible in the electoral repetition of 2016, when the distance between Íñigo Errejón and Pablo Iglesias had already begun. The union was possible thanks to the fact that in June of that year Garzón’s rise to the leadership of IU materialized. It was, therefore, a key actor in the political conglomerate that would end up overshadowing the original Podemos project to consolidate it as a conglomerate to the left of the PSOE.
As a minister, his legislative role is very limited because his powers are those that traditionally corresponded to the general direction of Consumption within the Ministry of Health. But the PSOE would like this formula of segregating powers to give space to its new partners without touching the fundamental core of the Government.
The latest scandal over its criticism of macro-farms has not divided UP on the fundamental issue. Although there are people who recognize that expressing them in such a general way in a foreign media was not successful. In the tweet that Yolanda Díaz put in this regard, she came to support the substance of Garzón’s statements, but referred to the practices that the minister referred to in The Guardian as “minority.”
Several UP sources suggest that now the relationship with Yolanda Díaz is good, although in other times there were more controversial moments. Today’s vice-president left IU in 2019, when Díaz felt closer to Iglesias’s thesis of holding the pulse of the PSOE in the negotiations that led to the electoral repetition, and not so much to those of Garzón who was more in favor of an agreement although it did not involve governing in coalition.
At 36, Garzón is already a veteran politician with the feeling of having reached the highest level of responsibility within his reach. Of course, without having dictated a single rule with the force of law and without having left a puppet with head in areas of the Spanish economy as vital as tourism – of which he highlighted its “low added value” during an appearance in the Senate – or the agri-food industry producing olive oil, ham or cheese, betrayed by the minister with his proposal to implement the Nutriscore labeling.
The private gambling association Cejuego also lamented the double yardstick of the Royal Decree on Commercial Communications of Gambling Activities by the different measures that concern the publicity of the private game in front of the public with greater restrictions for the first. From Cejuego they regretted the turn given to the first draft of the rule, a move that they attribute to the political interests of the general coordinator of IU.