The swimming pool that, with two saunas and a gymnasium, was built in the Senate for the use and enjoyment of their lordships as part of the great reform project undertaken at the end of the 1980s did not get to be opened. The controversy raised by public opinion motivated it to be closed without even being inaugurated. And its existence ended up being justified to serve as a “fire hydrant”. Luckily, its 112,500 liters of water capacity has never had to be used to put out any fires, but the PP would do wonderfully to water the chamber and muddy the playing field, as it seems has proposed for this XV legislature, just released.

Because, once the possible investiture of Pedro Sánchez as president of the Spanish Government has been flattened – after taking control of Congress on Thursday with the support of Junts and ERC deputies -, the Senate aims to be the real battleground in which the PP will dispose of all its weapons. And there won’t be few of them.

The incontestable victory obtained by the popular people after the counting of the salmon-colored ballots on 23-J won Alberto Núñez Feijóo 142 seats out of a total of 266, still pending the seven autonomous designations of the parliaments of Murcia, Aragon, Asturias, La Rioja and Navarre. An absolute majority that, doubling the PSOE’s 73 senators, will allow Génova to convert the Senate into a “wall against Sanchism”.

The strategy, already announced by the PP, is to take advantage of all the parliamentary mechanisms at its disposal to carry out an exhaustive control that hinders, as far as possible, the management of a hypothetical government headed by the PSOE.

The political importance of the Senate is relative. It certainly does not intervene in the election of the president of the central government and is also not decisive in the drafting of laws. But it does have the ability to delay or slow down its processing.

This is so because when a law is passed in Congress, it is sent to the Senate to be validated, modified or vetoed. And with its absolute majority in the Senate, the PP will be able to put a Sánchez Executive in serious conflict, since it will be able to delay the processing of its laws or, in the most extreme case, reject it.

Many of these vetoes, by virtue of the legislative power, are limited. And the government could lift them with an absolute majority of yes in Congress. However, there is one matter in which the Senate has an irrevocable veto: the objectives of budgetary stability, a step before approving general State budgets.

As indicated by Pablo Laín, political scientist specializing in Parliamentary Law at the Autonomous University of Madrid, “the Montoro Budget Stability Law of 2012 placed Congress and the Senate on an equal footing, moving us away from the model of asymmetrical bicameralism that characterized us. For this reason, the absolute majority of the PP in the Senate can give many headaches to an eventual government of the PSOE and Sumar. Sánchez’s first executive, formed after the no-confidence motion, already encountered this obstacle in 2018, when the PP vetoed the budget stability objectives in the Senate”.

As Laín indicates, “there have been several attempts to reform the legislation to remove this ability from the Upper House, but they have never succeeded. Either because the initiative expired, as in the last legislature, or due to parliamentary filibusterism, as in the twelfth legislature, that of the motion of censure against Mariano Rajoy, when the PP prevented it with the support of Citizens, exemplifying the the importance of controlling the Bureau of Congress”.

Leaving aside the budgets, the PP also enjoys from this week a larger quota to register questions to the central government in the control sessions in the Senate. And it will be able to propose, and execute, the reproof of ministers because it is a valid mechanism for both Congress and the Senate.

Feijóo’s wild cards don’t end there, as he will also be able to force the convening of presidents’ conferences. The rules open this option if requested by at least ten presidents. And the popular ones add up to 11 autonomous presidencies, waiting for what happens in Murcia.

And there are more. The PP will also have the possibility of giving the go-ahead to as many investigative commissions as it deems appropriate. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they created the first before, even, the end of August,” predicts a resigned socialist baron in La Vanguardia.

It won’t be out of desire. In the legislature that has just ended, the populars already proposed the creation of a parliamentary investigation commission in the Upper House on alleged irregularities of the Socialist Party of the Valencian Country in the framework of the so-called Azud case for the alleged collection of commissions in exchange for favoring certain real estate businesses. The majority that PSOE and PNB had in the Senate table diluted the request, but now the turns have changed. “Sánchez will be very cornered”, PP sources predict. At least in the Senate.