Spain goes on vacation more aware than ever of the future of Europe

September will begin in Spain with gas reserves above 80%, scrupulously complying with the European Union directive.

30 July 2022 Saturday 16:49
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Spain goes on vacation more aware than ever of the future of Europe

September will begin in Spain with gas reserves above 80%, scrupulously complying with the European Union directive. It would take a major geopolitical catastrophe – a chain sabotage of US liquefied natural gas export plants, for example – for our country to run out of gas in winter. Not even Algeria could provoke an energy collapse in Spain, in the unlikely event that it totally aligned itself with Russia, an old ally and protector, and cut off supplies to its European customers.

Last year, Algerian gas accounted for 43% of Spanish imports. In the current exercise it may not reach 25%. The main hose is now connected to the United States, the first gas supplier country (34%) and the second oil supplier (11.4%), behind Nigeria (14%), according to the latest consolidated data. An alignment between Spain and the United States is taking place on fundamental issues that has not been seen since the beginning of the century. There is the new expansion of the Rota base, the main North American hub in the Mediterranean.

This alignment is more expensive for us, it can be objected. The question of prices is an arcane, since the contracts of the supply companies with their suppliers are secret. The only thing that can be confirmed is that Spain does not buy liquefied natural gas from the United States on a daily basis in the spot market (in cash), which would be a ruin. Naturgy has North American gas contracts negotiated years ago, at a time of good prices.

Renewable energies are reaching a critical mass in the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal also counts in this story), hydrocarbon imports have diversified, and the eight regasification plants distributed along the Iberian coast (seven in Spain and one in Portugal), which yesterday they seemed oversized, today they have become strategic capital.

September will not begin with the focus on Spain, since the problem of the Atlantic alliance is now based in Italy. September will kick off with a harrowing Italian election campaign in which the current European order could be put at stake, if the bloc led by a party that has its roots in the fascist tradition wins. September will be the month of Italy and there will be many people crossing their fingers. Let's not anticipate events, however, since in that country things are rarely settled between black and white. Italy once again feels the lure of the forest: the temptation of playing a double game, an experience already experienced during the two world wars of the 20th century.

September will be the month of a momentous Italian election and November will be the month of the US mid-term elections. If to the European confusion before a possible victory of the friends and acquaintances of Vladimir Putin in the most populous country in southern Europe, is added an electoral disaster of the Biden Administration, the winter will be very hard. Recession, stress, social unrest and rising political tensions, hunger riots in poor countries, strategic confusion. That is the calculation of Putin, who never has mid-term elections. Moscow could gain the upper hand and force a negotiation on the future of Ukraine more favorable to its interests.

The hangover from a bad winter would be resolved in Spain in the municipal and regional elections (12 communities) scheduled for May. The general elections would take place in December 2023 (perhaps in January 2024), if the Prime Minister keeps his word to exhaust the legislature. In June of next year, Spain will assume the six-monthly presidency of the European Union and that could be a very interesting and delicate moment.

In addition to buying time, waiting for the worst to be over, Pedro Sánchez does not want to miss that semester. European politics is his great vocation, as he is demonstrating these days with a special tour of the Balkans. We are facing the Spanish head of government with the greatest vocation for European politics since Dr. Juan Negrín, a man who spoke German, French, English, Russian and Italian, reached the conclusion that the war in Spain was the prologue of a second great world war.

Sánchez has traveled these days to the Balkans, a region that he knows well since he worked as a young man, between 1997 and 1999, in the cabinet of the UN High Representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina, the diplomat Carlos Westendorp. The Spanish president wants to act as a defense attorney for the Balkan countries that still aspire to join the European Union and that feel relegated by Ukraine's candidacy. A new Balkan outburst – tension is once again high in battered Bosnia-Herzegovina – is the last thing the European Union would lack in the current circumstances. Sánchez knows how to read maps and is gaining prestige in Brussels, according to senior Union officials.

The president reads European politics with agility, the question is whether he interprets the Spanish internal moment with the same lucidity. "I take care of Soria, not Syria," they say Mariano Rajoy said one day when he was questioned by Felipe González about his lack of interest in foreign policy. Alberto Núñez Feijóo, a student at the Romay Beccaria school, like Rajoy, does not show a great interest in international politics either. Feijóo is now in a very cautious phase, waiting for the victory to come by his own foot, by charring the opponent. Sánchez's strong point is Europe and the question, before the September rains arrive, is whether he reads Soria worse than Syria. "Spanish politics today goes through European politics," the president often repeats to his interlocutors.

Sánchez wants to win in Soria, there is no doubt about that. He has gotten his act together after the Andalusian elections, catastrophic for the PSOE and for the entire left, and he strives to convey an image of dynamism and initiative. He has made changes in the party, placing the veteran Patxi López at the top to try to block the obsessive speech of the Popular Party about the continuity of ETA through Bildu. He has moved pieces in Ferraz, but he continues to be the almost sole protagonist of the Government's action. He is adopting measures that can be interpreted as a turn to the left, when the problem, in the polls, has him on the right side.

The PSOE would currently be giving up half a million votes to the Popular Party, according to studies carried out based on the latest barometer of the CIS, after the Andalusian elections. The PP is once again the Alpha Party. It begins to receive votes from everywhere: a million voters who say goodbye to Ciudadanos; some 400,000 abstainers; 500,000 former PSOE voters (November 2019 generals), and attention: 700,000 Vox voters in the last generals who would be returning to the mother house, to the extent that it reappears as the winner.

Faced with this dynamic, is the PSOE wise to move to the left to try to revitalize the unmotivated progressive electorate, or should it be offering agreements to the PP on a daily basis to recover centrist votes and test the pactist will of Núñez Feijóo? Both things at the same time are difficult to execute. Before the rain arrives, Sánchez and his main collaborators seem to have opted for the revival of progressivism.

The current dynamic would today place the Popular Party above seven million votes, while the Socialist Party would be around six million. The probable collapse of Vox would place third place within the reach of United We Can in important constituencies, with which the final result of the next general elections would end up depending on the vitality of the electoral platform that Yolanda Díaz may lead and the robustness of the nationalist vote and regionalist, in full depression of the Catalan independence movement.

The Sumar-Unidas Podemos sphere (in growing tension) and Catalonia (in relaxation) could be decisive.

Before the rain.



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