The Minister of the Presidency, Félix Bolaños, accumulates a new plot of power in the Palacio de La Moncloa. The Official State Gazette has made official this Monday a change in the structure of the National Security Council (CSN, in charge of advising the Prime Minister in emergency situations) that places Bolaños at the head of the so-called Situation Committee, a collegiate body responsible to coordinate the different administrations with competences in the management of crisis scenarios.
The change, agreed on November 18 by the National Security Council itself, is justified by “the variation [el pasado julio] of the composition of the Government of Spain, after the last ministerial remodeling ”and the need to adapt the composition of this body to these changes“ in order to obtain greater efficiency in the performance of support functions in crisis management ”, according to the BOE. Information service sources classify the Situation Committee as “the most important piece” of the CSN itself.
The decision that Bolaños now presides over this body “on a regular basis” has been accompanied by a second change: the inclusion for the first time among the members of the committee (which also includes the president’s chief of staff and senior officials). of each one of the ministries as well as the National Intelligence Center and the Secretary of Communication) of the person who occupies the General Secretariat of the Presidency. At present it is Francisco Martín Aguirre, right hand from Bolaños himself. In this way, the minister, who since he assumed the portfolio in July was already qualified to preside over the National Security Council itself in the absence of King Felipe VI and President Sánchez, reinforces his role of control in matters of national security ahead of the three vice-presidents of the Executive.
Until now, the Situation Committee had only been headed by someone at the head of a vice-presidency. First, by Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, with the PP, and, after the arrival of Pedro Sánchez to La Moncloa, which was until last July the number two of this, Carmen Calvo. Then, the norm contemplated that the meetings of this body could only be presided over “exceptionally and at the decision of the Prime Minister” by a lower-ranking position, such as that of minister. Despite this, sources from the Palacio de La Moncloa minimize the impact of this new regulation because they say that, in reality, Bolaños is inheriting that position from Calvo, since he has been his successor as Minister of the Presidency.
The truth is that this new attribution expands the sphere of the minister, who already concentrates almost all power in La Moncloa with the exception of the area led by Óscar López, current head of the Sánchez Cabinet. The latter is very different from Iván Redondo, who from the same position tried to occupy all the space and for that reason collided with Bolaños, then Secretary General of the Presidency. In fact, the now minister left in March 2020 the interministerial commission that supervises the coordination of the CNI with the rest of the information services of the State to enter, precisely, Redondo.
The recent modification of the structure of the CSN places Bolaños as the strong man of the Prime Minister. Although he is not vice president, the Minister of the Presidency is Sánchez’s most trusted person for the most delicate steps, and he is the negotiator with all groups and regional governments. All government roads lead to Bolaños just before the president, and now in case of crisis situations it will be officially the number two of the Government, something that now happens de facto on a daily basis.
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The Situation Committee that Bolaños has now headed has a dozen functions, according to the CSN on its website. Among them is that of “providing support to the National Security Council in directing and coordinating actions to manage crisis situations of marked transversality, an important dimension of their effects or a high degree of uncertainty.” It is also in charge of imparting “political-strategic guidelines”, managing the resources available to face emergencies, coordinating the affected bodies and promoting “the necessary international collaboration”.
In addition, its responsibilities include “analyzing possible crisis scenarios, studying their possible evolution and supporting the updating and improvement of response plans, all in coordination with the competent bodies.” The Situation Committee also establishes “guidelines on information policy” in its sphere of competence and promotes the extraordinary convocation of the National Security Council when a crisis situation occurs.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.