This Thursday, Congress approved the Parity Law, which will require equal representation of women and men in decision-making bodies, including the Council of Ministers itself and also the boards of directors of large companies. A text that the progressive coalition has recovered from the last legislature, when its processing declined due to early elections. The law will now travel to the Senate and return to the Lower House, expected in July for final approval. Only PP and Vox have voted this Thursday against the rule.

The text is a further step along the path initiated by the Equality Act of 2007, approved by the Zapatero government and which already included the principle of balanced presence of men and women both on electoral lists for any election and in appointments made by public authorities. It was not an obligation, however, that the lists had to have strict alternation or that governments complied with parity. Nor did it contemplate sanctions if companies did not comply with the recommendations.

“Today is a historic day,” celebrated the Minister of Equality, the socialist Ana Redondo, in her speech in Congress to defend the text. “A social and historical injustice is removed. You cannot advance, there is no room for merit and ability. Without equality, there is no idea that has been expressed here that progress can only be made with merit and capacity if there is no equality beforehand,” she said.

“With this law we open hope to women and men in all countries who see that their rights are declining. And we tell them that there is another way of doing politics, that there is another way of being a government, that there is another way of making a better world. And this law is precisely that example,” she then defended.

Zipper lists and joint governments

The law approved this Thursday by the Lower House stipulates that men and women will be included in the electoral lists with a “total alternation”. Today, 44% of the seats in Congress and 39% in the Senate are occupied by women, the socialists point out. The Equality Law already contemplated the parity lists but did not require this alternation in the form of a zipper, so that it could be circumvented, for example, by placing more women in the last positions or with little chance of being elected.

According to the new rule, electoral candidacies must have an equal composition of women and men, with the lists being made up of persons of both sexes ordered in an alternating order. The reform will apply to all electoral processes: elections for deputies to Congress, municipal elections, members of island councils and island councils, deputies to the European Parliament and members of the Legislative Assemblies of the Communities. It will also apply when the candidacies for the Senate are grouped into lists.

Furthermore, the principle of balanced representation of women and men will be guaranteed when appointing Vice-Presidents and Ministries of the Government of Spain.

The same will happen in large companies. According to the initial version of the text, the companies affected by this reform must ensure that their board of directors has a composition with the presence of at least 40% of directors of the less represented sex, and they will ensure that this composition is also present in the top management of the company. However, during the amendment process, Podemos negotiated with the PSOE that the percentage of women could exceed 60% if it is adequately justified. The purple party thus wanted to prevent the historically less represented sex from now having any brakes if in any case their participation exceeded that figure.

“Today, with the essential votes of Podemos, we have managed to break that quota of men, which was a strategic problem with this law as the Socialist Party had brought it. “Irene Montero’s ministerial cabinet would have had to fire women,” said the general secretary of Podemos, Ione Belarra, this Thursday in Congress. “It seemed to us that this very serious error made our votes incompatible with the law, and thanks to that pressure today we have broken the quota of men,” she defended.

This regulation will be applied to all listed companies, “also to those entities considered, according to the Account Audit Law, as entities of public interest, when they meet the following requirements: 1) average number of workers employed in the year greater than 250 ; 2) net amount of the annual turnover greater than 50 million euros or total asset items greater than 43 million euros.”

The indications of the 2007 equality law on balanced representation also affected the boards of directors of companies, but they were still recommendations that, if not followed, did not entail a sanction, something that this rule wants to change. In 2021, only 29% of the positions on the boards of listed companies were held by women.

The Government sneaks an amendment to circumvent the Senate’s veto on the spending ceiling

The PP has rejected this text, considering precisely that the Podemos amendment distorts its content. “The Government of Pedro Sánchez, literally, destroys it to the unimaginable, erasing even its own spirit, blowing up article five by selling real parity for a handful of votes. Exactly four, those of Podemos, who have decided that only the limit of the underrepresented gender be respected,” said deputy Jaime de los Santos from the rostrum.

But one of the main criticisms from the popular party has focused on the amendment that the Socialist Party and Sumar have snuck into this law to try to remove the Senate’s irrevocable veto power over the aforementioned budget stability and public debt objectives. to the General State Budgets, a blockade that the PP has already used twice this year given its absolute majority in the Upper House.

It was the former Minister of Finance Cristóbal Montoro who introduced a clause in the Budget Stability Law of 2012 requiring that what is known as the spending ceiling have the approval of Congress and the Senate, without there being an option to lift the veto in the Chamber Low.

In their justification, PSOE and Sumar argue that Spain needs a procedure for approving the objectives of budgetary stability and public debt “that is agile and appropriate to the importance of each constitutional body in the institutional system.”

“Those who have once again exploited women have dealt a blow to the rule of law by including amendments in their text which, in addition to depriving the Senate of one of its prerogatives and, therefore, the citizens whom we represent in the Cortes Generales, contravene the Constitution,” the PP deputy denounced. “Their lordships of the radical socialist left have long ceased to care about the Constitution or the sacrosanct separation of powers, or anything synonymous with institutional respect,” he insisted.


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