Felipe González and Mariano Rajoy once again agreed on almost everything at their annual meeting at the La Toja Vínculo Atlántico Forum.
Even in their role as former presidents or "Chinese vases" without responsibilities.
Neither of them are enthusiastic about this messy fiscal race of tax proposals, which Rajoy labeled the "Frankenstein fiscal pact" and González the "Army of Pancho Villa."
Rajoy aimed there above all at the central government.
González to everyone and recalled his commitment to a "harmonization of basic taxes in the European Union."
Both have advocated this Friday for a great rent agreement and have highlighted the "need" to now reissue other Pacts of La Moncloa.
The talk between Rajoy and González on the island of A Toxa (Pontevedra) is already an autumn classic at the start of the political year for those nostalgic for the two-party system that has governed Spain in most of the current democratic period.
They meet at the luxurious Gran Hotel of the resort, they meet with active leaders or in the business rearguard of the PP and the PSOE, they talk privately and with hardly any partisan tensions with the tycoons of the large Spanish companies of the Ibex 35 and always conclude by end of the conference: more state pacts, more consensus and more unity on the basis of liberal democracies are needed.
Every year there is some small discrepancy or controversy that sets them apart, whether it is about the solution to Catalonia, the role of the king emeritus or the redistribution of wealth.
They get to know each other better, their hobbies,
The context, this year, was marked by the war in Ukraine and its consequences.
The two former presidents praised the work of the European Union, the unity in the response, admitted the mistake of trying to "stabilize and westernize" the enormous Russian Federation of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, and once again agreed that now You have to apply the laws and prepare for any scenario.
González emphasized there, in that context, what he pointed out that it could be "a gift for Feijóo", the current leader of the PP.
A gift with a clear intention, as he explained in an informal conversation with a group of journalists.
In public, the former socialist president stressed that in democracies "laws are made, and sometimes we don't like them, but the only way to overcome conflicts is to apply that law, even if we don't like it, and then if that changes it."
The reference was about the current conflict over the pending renewal almost four years ago of the General Council of the Judiciary.
He planned to drop it on Feijóo, and he did.
Nor does he like the mediating function attributed to the European Commissioner for Justice, the Belgian Didier Reynders,
these days in Spain and that has clearly opted for that solution now supported by the PP that only the judges choose the representatives of the direction of the Judicial Power "among their peers".
González joked about what happens then with "the odd ones" and stressed that with "the Belgian model, for the moment, it did not go very well for us" to refresh that the former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is still there on the run from Spanish justice.
It was there that former President González recognized that there is no instruction manual to act in the face of unforeseen crises, but he did consider that in the face of this accumulation of insecurities it could be “necessary” and “good” to sign an income agreement now and recover “an agreement of the type [of those] from La Moncloa so that this is not Pancho Villa's army, each one for his side”.
González asks to “harmonize” basic taxes
Felipe González does not believe that now is the time to bet heavily on maintaining or increasing the individual Wealth tax or on individual or regional tax solutions, as he confessed to a group of journalists in an informal conversation.
He recalled that he imposed him as president, at another time and another era, when it was necessary to put order in the census chaos of properties in the country as a whole, but not to collect more.
He also commented that he does not know anyone who has gone to Portugal to avoid paying taxes on a farm in Extremadura.
But he did raise the opportunity to "harmonize" a series of basic taxes, as he tried unsuccessfully at the European level, because he recognized that current taxation "is deteriorated by the passage of time" and requires a review.
Rajoy accepted the challenge of the income pact, because that is how he scored the goal of an imitation that was signed in 2012, when he became president of the Government, although only between businessmen and unions.
But he clarified that this pact must be global, alluding to the fact that the Government should not prioritize wage increases there for electoral reasons, for example only for public officials.
The former leader of the PP rescued an allusion by González to the eternal political complexity in Argentina to point out that a fiscal pact in Spain is just as thorny and rejected the project that Minister Montero has just outlined.
"We are moving towards a Frankenstein fiscal pact," said Rajoy, and González added a resounding "yes", and the popular disqualified the measures "of squaring the circle" announced by a government that he sees riddled with "populism,
Former President Rajoy delved into this point in highly supported criticism also by the current PP of Alberto Núñez Feijóo, who was also in the room, against the idea of imposing taxes and persecuting the rich instead of trying to end poverty.
Rajoy and González recalled the crossroads of quotes about former leaders such as the Swedish Olof Palme or the Portuguese colonel Otelo Nuno Romão Saraiva de Carvalho.
Rajoy considered that these types of initiatives "are demagogic and do not lead anywhere" and insisted on the argument that Spain is now collecting and receiving more European funds than ever.
The former popular president rejected that one can govern "by smacking companies" in a room full of several CEOs and presidents of the main companies in Spain.
González observed there that Rajoy was moving so far away from the supposed political neutrality of the former presidents that he made him ugly with diplomacy and seized an approach from the moderator, the journalist Anabel Díez, about a hypothetical appeasing function of the former presidents, to return to that metaphor about the Chinese vases that he established when he left La Moncloa, where he arrived he is going to do this next October 28, 40 years: “We are still great Chinese vases in small apartments, valuable yes, but they hit you with the elbow and break us.
We got in the way, it's not bad faith, it's history."
To resume the friendly tone of their meetings at the end, González defended declaring A Toxa "an island independent from the rest of the world".
Rajoy closed: "I support him."
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