The government settled some outstanding issues that were still outstanding on August 1st, before the holidays. One of them is the replacement of the presidency of the National Institute of Statistics (INE) following the abrupt departure of Juan Manuel Rodríguez Poo at the end of June. The Economy Ministry, on which the body depends, has opted for Elena Manzanera, a signing of a high position from the Junta de Andalucía – who was appointed director in 2019 by the government of Juan Manuel Moreno Bonilla – with a technical and little-known profile outside of the administration area. In this way, first vice-president Nadia Calviño is trying to shield the appointment from criticism from the PP. The move seems to have worked, at least for now.
Until now, Manzanera has headed the Institute of Statistics and Cartography of Andalusia, a position he was promoted to shortly after joining the PP and Citizens Board. His appointment depended on the Ministry of Economy, headed by Rogelio Velasco from the Orange formation. Those who know her emphasize her solvency and inclination towards her career at the Andalusian Institute of Statistics. And they underscore their reticence away from the limelight. For INE, for its part, the announcement was not well received at all. “There are many more valid people in the house,” criticize sources from the Statistical Institute.
This appointment is viewed by various political sectors as a smart move, as it puts Calviño to rest on any controversy he had planned about INE and the change in leadership. The government could not afford a new controversy as in the past at the Center for Sociological Research (CIS) – with the appointment of José Félix Tezanos, who was then part of the leadership of the PSOE – or at the Attorney General’s Office -Dolores Delgado went from Minister of Justice to Attorney General .
Business circles explain that the decision was made after a selection process last month. And they say that this was done without regard to political affinity: “It is a managerial position with a technical profile, already dedicated to the statistical field, with experience. We believe he is the best option, the right person.”
The executive concludes by fishing in the trappings of a PP government, a convulsive episode that began with the resignation of Rodríguez Poo. The controversy was enormous at the time: the then-President’s departure was “for personal reasons”, although he left at least three ministries (Economy, Social Security and Treasury) after the downward revision of first-quarter GDP growth and a cascade of criticism of the institute. for their calculations of the gross domestic product and the consumer price index. They accused him of not being able to adjust the measurement after the pandemic: They argued that there was a bias in his data that did not reflect the economic recovery well. And they argued that tax collection or the labor market was much more positive. Economy has even introduced a daily indicator to monitor activity recovery with data outside of the data offered by the INE.
After these discrepancies and with the change of direction of the statistical institute, the credibility and independence of the organization was at stake. The opposition was on high alert and the institute’s work would have been called into question had a profile closely linked to the government or the PSOE been chosen. “For a high Andalusian position to be elected means that the board has very valid staff for the state. It seems good to us and he will be judged for what he does at the head of the INE, ”say high officials of the Andalusian PP. Elvira Rodríguez, deputy general secretary of the popular parties, underlines the positive aspect of having chosen a technical profile: “It is better than someone with just a political CV. The INE is a very important institution not only because of its activity, but also because of the country’s reputation.” Thus, the government seems to have solved a problem that could fester in Brussels and even come back against them, where the PP would have attacked them.
Israel Arroyo’s option
Rodríguez Poo’s resignation was greeted with concern by the Association of Higher State Statisticians, which, at the end of June, pointed out that “the dismissal of the president of the INE could be interpreted by society as an attack on the institute’s independence. Indeed, Israel Arroyo, former Secretary of State for Social Security, sounded like a possible replacement. This would have drawn a wave of criticism as it would have been the first time a former senior government official had been put at the head of the INE. ” A selection process was opened and we never confirmed that Arroyo would take over,” insist Commerce Department sources.
This process culminated in the arrival of Elena Manzanera, who has some unanswered questions on the table. One of them is the adoption of a new INE statute, which will have to go through the Council of Ministers and will provide the Institute with more resources. “Before Rodríguez Poo left, we were close to approving it. Now it will be Manzanera who will have to finish it,” government sources added.
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