• Requests the realization of an independent report that evaluates the adequate respect for the rights and freedoms guaranteed by article 20 of the Spanish Constitution in the actions carried out by the State Secretariat for Communication
The Popular Parliamentary Group has registered two Proposals No of Law derived from the great controversy raised in wide social sectors and the important protest among Spanish journalists by the format of press conferences chosen by the Government of Pedro Sánchez to inform citizens during the state of alarm decreed by the Coronavirus crisis.
With a Proposal not of Law signed by the spokesperson of the Popular Parliamentary Group, Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, the PP deputy secretaries, Ana Beltrán, Pablo Montesinos and Cuca Gamarra, the deputy spokesmen of the GPP Isabel Borrego, Pilar Marcos and Carlos Rojas, and the Deputies Adolfo Suárez, Edurne Uriarte, José Antonio Bermúdez de Castro and María Jesús Moro, the Popular Group urges the Government “to allow journalists to ask their questions directly to members of the Government during their press conferences, to ensure the plurality of the representation of the media that ask their questions and, in general, to increase their transparency and accountability during the COVID-19 crisis. ”
This initiative indicates that "the coronavirus crisis has brought about a drastic change in the organization of government press conferences", since "journalists are no longer allowed to ask their questions directly to the president or his ministers, nor, either, ask questions ”.
Quite the contrary, continues the explanatory statement, "journalists are now forced to put their questions in writing to the Ministry of Communication and this, in turn, filters them following a completely opaque approach."
The choice of this system "is producing all kinds of dysfunctionalities", points out the GPP, because "on the one hand, certain media are systematically favored so that their questions are usually reproduced". "At the same time, other media never have the opportunity to see their questions answered," he stresses.
Furthermore, "this system allows the Government to know the questions in advance, prepare the answers and discard those that may be the most uncomfortable, while accepting those that best suit its political interests."
"All this", underlines the GPP, "leads to distort the spirit and the reasons for the press conferences", because "the Government avoids being accountable to citizens from the moment it chooses which questions it will answer and which no".
All of this led to a hundred journalists signing a manifesto demanding that they return to the previous system whereby journalists could pose their questions directly to policy makers. "Not only was his request ignored," recalls the initiative, "but also all the journalists who signed the manifesto have been punished by the Government, so that none of their questions were selected during the press conference on April 1. "
In a moment of serious emergency, "the Government, instead of increasing its accountability and transparency, is drastically restricting it." "To this is added his reluctance to submit to the scrutiny of the Opposition in the Congress of Deputies," adds the GPP, something "very worrying for the democratic health of Spanish institutions." "The Government cannot weaken the democratic quality of its action at a time when it is particularly urgent to strengthen it," he remarks.
In addition, by means of another Proposition not of Law, the GPP also calls on the Government to commission a Committee of independent experts to prepare a report that includes, first of all, “an analysis of the degree of compliance with freedom of the press and the freedom of expression in the format of press conferences decided and used by the Government during the state of alarm ”.
Secondly, "the calculation of the real impact on the right to information and on freedom of the press of the format of press conferences used to inform Spaniards."
Thirdly, the GPP claims that this report also includes “details of the reasons why the Government excluded the telematic press conferences, the mechanics of the participation of journalists in press conferences, all the questions asked by journalists to to be exposed in the press conferences, all the rejected questions, and all those selected by the Secretary of State for Communication to be asked ”.
Fourth, a request is made for "an evaluation that improves the government's information and transparency mechanisms both in periods of crisis and in normal periods and that contributes to improving the quality of our democracy."
With this initiative, signed by the spokeswoman Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, the deputy secretaries Ana Beltrán, Pablo Montesinos and Cuca Gamarra, the deputy spokesman Carlos Rojas and the deputies Edurne Uriarte, José Antonio Bermúdez de Castro, María Jesús Moro and Jaime Mateu, the GPP stresses that "health reasons, the need for isolation, do not prevent the holding of telematic press conferences with the presence of journalists, as the press conferences of the opposition leader, Pablo Casado, and other political and social leaders have shown ”, As well as in other European countries.
The format chosen by Moncloa "constitutes an exceptional case of our democracy and breaks with the norms applied until now by all the previous governments."