The list of senior officials and advisers in the Pedro Sánchez government is a record one. The climb began as soon as it settled in La Moncloa, in June 2018, and It has skyrocketed since he governs in coalition with Podemos. The harsh Covid crisis, which has hit the labor market and shaken the economy, has not slowed it down either: Sánchez has continued to increase the payroll of positions of political appointment, reserved for militants or similar in one of the multiplied ministries or in the abundant entities that hang from them.
The Executive PSOE-Podemos adds almost 1,500 high positions and advisers, according to official data compiled by ABC. And that at least, because the latest data
provided by the Government date back to January 2021. Transparency, in this particular, is a year behind. But spending on politically appointed positions has not declined since then, but has continued to expand in 2021, an obvious indication that the number of trusted personnel and co-religionists placed in government pay has increased.
According to the latest list certified by the General State Intervention at the end of 2020, the Government already had 1,472 senior officials and advisers at that time. But, since then, between January and November 2021 – the last published accounting data -, spending on political salaries of the Executive grew another 5.6%, which indicates that the number of placed has continued to grow.
Without counting this extra increase, at the beginning of 2021 the Government already added 1,073 advisers – technically classified as ‘temporary personnel’ -, in addition to 399 senior government officials. In total, 1,472 political appointments. Exactly, 458 more than those of the PP Government in 2017, the last full year of Mariano Rajoy in La Moncloa before Pedro Sánchez evicted him with the motion of censure of June 1, 2018. There are 363 extra advisers and 95 more senior positions than the Rajoy Executive had. That is, 30% more senior managers and 51% more advisers.
More chairs, more salaries
This inflation of salaries of political designation generates a parallel cost overrun, which is also skyrocketing. Overall, the salary expense in senior positions and advisers is of the order of 40% higher than that of the Government of Rajoy in 2017, his last full management exercise.
Between January and November 2021, the last official accounting published, the Government had spent 38.17 million euros in senior positions and 42.25 million in advisers. And that’s not counting the Social Security contributions. At the rate that this expenditure had grown until November, it is estimated that at the end of the year the total cost of advisers and senior officials will have reached 90 million euros, quotes apart. In 2017 the Government of Rajoy spent 27 million less in this section. That year, the salaries of senior government officials and advisers amounted to 61.13 million euros, also without counting Social Security. Exactly, almost seven million euros less in senior positions and about 21 million less in temporary personnel, popularly known as advisers.
Pedro Sánchez has proven to be agile and precocious in fattening the Government’s political staff. This love put it into practice as soon as he settled in La Moncloa. He evicted Rajoy on June 1, 2018. From then until December 31 of that year, in those first seven months of Government, 42.7 million euros were spent on senior officials and advisers. It was almost four million more than its predecessor spent a year earlier, from June to December 2017.
That political extra cost with which Sánchez made his debut at La Moncloa pointed out ways and the passage of time has confirmed them. The escalation was more in the following years, accelerated when the PSOE agreed on the coalition government with Podemos, and it goes on and on right now. Without an iota of austerity, this government’s spending on political salaries has continued to grow strongly also during the pandemic, oblivious to the crisis.
In 2019, Sánchez spent 9.6 million more on senior positions and advisers than in 2018; in 2020 it struck nine million more in that class of salaries than in 2019; and, between January and November 2021 -the latest official accounting data available-, four million euros more had already been spent than in the same period in 2020, around 8.5% more on advisers than in 2020 and almost a 3% more in senior positions.
The maelstrom of spending on salaries for political appointments is of such caliber that, systematically, the Government of Pedro Sánchez always falls short of the budget available each year. For this reason, it has also systematically adjusted the general state budgets (PGE) to approve modifications with which to fatten the item dedicated to senior positions and advisers.
Those budget patches have been recurring. For this purpose Zurció the accounts he received from the PP – Sánchez governed with PGE extended for two and a half years. But he has also patched up his own accounts, because Sánchez has not even adhered to the items that he himself set for senior positions and advisers. Even your own budget falls short.
In 2019, the Executive of Pedro Sánchez spent 6.34 million euros more on positions of political appointment than he had reserved for that purpose in the PGE extended with which he governed that year. After the general elections of December 2019, in January 2020 the current executive of the PSOE-Podemos coalition began and Sánchez again skipped budgets. In 2020 it continued with extended accounts and that year it spent 15.22 million more than the PGE to which it was due.
In 2021, the Government of Pedro Sánchez released budgets, the first ones drawn up by the PSOE-Podemos coalition. But, in anticipation that he was also going to spend more than what he himself had consigned, the Government of Sánchez has mended its own accounts throughout this year to inject several million more into their high positions and advisers. Until November, it had expanded the number of senior officials by 1.34 million euros and that of advisers by 2.75 million. In total, an extra injection of 4.09 million to be able to spend more in salaries of political appointment during the past year.
The multiplication of ministries that the PSOE-Podemos government coalition brought with it has triggered the list of senior officials and advisers. In just six months, Podemos went from criticizing “the obsession with armchairs” to multiplying them. He moved from said to fact as soon as the Council of Ministers had to negotiate.
To square their particular claims of command for salary, the PSOE and Podemos stretched the table of the Council of Ministers. From 13 ministries it went to 22. And each one with its corresponding cohort of like-minded people, whether they are advisers or senior positions, such as secretaries of state, undersecretaries and assimilates, general directors …
There are numerous examples of how the ministerial multiplication has generated an expensive proliferation of salaries of political appointment. It is especially visible in the section of temporary personnel (advisers). A good sample button is the four ministries created to distribute the competences that the Ministry of Health brought together with Rajoy, Social Services and Equality, which also included the area of Consumption. Now there is a ministry for Health, another for Social Rights and the 2030 Agenda, one for Consumption and another for Equality. The result is that, where previously there were 17 advisers at the service of a single ministerial portfolio, now there are 68 divided into four.
Another case: with the structure left by Mariano Rajoy, the Employment and Social Security powers were carried out by a single ministry that had 18 advisers on the payroll. With the current Government of PSOE-Podemos, that ministry has been divided into two and between them there are 27 advisers, nine more. Fourteen are paid by the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, and another 13 are paid by the Ministry of Labor and Social Economy, according to the latest Staff Statistical Bulletin published by the State Administration.
There are more examples: with Rajoy, the Ministry of the Presidency also included Territorial Administrations and the office of the president. It had a total of 391 advisers. With the current PSOE-Podemos government, it has split into two ministries: Presidency, Relations with the Courts and Democratic Memory, on the one hand –which includes the staff of the president’s office–; and Territorial Policy and Public Function, on the other. Where before there were 391 advisers in a unitary ministry, now there are 499 distributed in the two ministries in which that old portfolio has been unfolded. That is, 108 more advisers. And the president’s office is substantially more expensive now than in the previous stage of the PP.
With Rajoy there was also a single ministry that encompassed the powers of Agriculture and the Environment. With the PSOE-Podemos coalition there are two, one for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, on the one hand; and another of Agriculture, on the other. Between the two, 26 advisers. Before, with the unitary Ministry of Agriculture and Environment, just half (13).
And yet another example: the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of the Government of Rajoy had 20 casualties on the payroll. Now there is a Ministry of Education, another of Universities and another of Culture and Sports: among the three, 25 advisers, five more.
To the structure of the Government and its administration must also be added the senior management positions controlled by the Executive in the large network of public business entities, commercial and similar companies, consortia, foundations and other public law entities. This is what is technically called the “non-administrative state public sector.” The opportunities to promote like-minded at the top of these entities are also considerable. According to the latest official listing, there are half a thousand senior managers distributed in that extensive network that depends on the Government.