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The Pedro Sánchez government is facing a difficult examination in the Congress of Deputies this coming Wednesday, in which it must validate the decree with which it is reforming Spanish labour law. It does not have a sufficient majority to move the plan forward and even less so in terms of support from the parties who have until now provided its parliamentary crutches, the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), and the Basques of the PNV and Bildu. The only votes which the minority coalition of the Socialists (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos can count on are those of Ciudadanos (Cs), a party in the process of disappearing but capable of adding its votes to the government agreement reached with employers' groups and the UGT and CCOO unions, although not with other union forces in Catalonia and Euskadi.

Trapped in a labyrinth of permanent lies, Sánchez has presented the package as a major reform of the labour market when in reality it is a series of minor changes agreed with the CEOE employer body, the great winner so far in the agreement. First, because the Moncloa government palace has had to back down from its commitment to repeal the Popular Party's 2012 labour reform which it had promised. Secondly, Europe has watched Sánchez's moves closely to ensure he doesn't increase the size of the public deficit. And thirdly, because the substance of the PP's labour reform remains intact and it is obvious that if party leader Pablo Casado does not support the current changes, it is purely out of electoral strategy, giving it an importance that it does not have due to the impact it might have on the February 13th elections in Castilla y León.

The fact that, this weekend, demonstrations against the labour reform have been held in the Basque Country, Galicia and Barcelona organized by the union groups CIG, ELA, LAB and Intersindical, demonstrates the solitude of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos in a project that, if it gets through with the majorities that are now shaping up, will see the legislature changing its tune. With the façade stripped off, it will be difficult to maintain ERC's support without a tangible counter-offer and efforts that will enable the farce of the dialogue table to still be considered as a valid instrument for the solution of the political conflict between Spain and Catalonia.

If that doesn't happen, who is to know if what we have before us is a rehearsal for a grand coalition in Spain, between the PSOE and the PP - today impossible, but after the next elections we will see - as an alternative to a more than likely government between the PP and VOX. If so, labour reform would be an exercise in which the Unidas Podemos minister Diaz could award herself a non-existent medal, because here the agreement has been among the Socialists and the CEOE. With the major employers association having positioned itself as a pacemaker for future agreements between the protagonists of Spain's two-party system, and with Sánchez having accepted the game, it suggests that the Moncloa is starting to contemplate alternative scenarios.

PS: Will anyone be made responsible for the absence of a date and, even less, an agenda for the second meeting of the Spain-Catalonia dialogue table, after the previous appointment - on 15th September, 2021 - when those present agreed​ to hold a new meeting between the two governments at the beginning of the year - and there's one day left in January - that would go beyond a few photos and Pedro Sánchez committing to it publicly?