Spain’s Prime Minister May Be Forced to Call Early Elections
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s time appears to be running out. The three largest opposition parties have called for early elections after prominent members of his People’s Party were found guilty of corruption.
Rajoy leads a minority conservative government. He has been relying on the support of the liberal Citizens to pass legislation. Read more
Trump’s Erratic Foreign Policy: Speak Loudly and Carry a Small Stick
The cancellation of Donald Trump’s planned nuclear summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is the latest example of his erratic foreign policy backfiring.
Fred Kaplan reports for Slate that Trump frightened aides by refusing to prepare for the summit.
Jim Brunsden of the Financial Times reports that the administration is making unreasonable demands of the EU: either a 10-percent cut in steel exports or punitive tariffs above a certain threshold. The bloc’s inevitable refusal to entertain either option — and warning that it will retaliate against tariffs — could lead to a transatlantic trade war.
Ilan Goldenberg, a former diplomat now with the Center for a New American Security, tweets that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s economic advisor, Peter Navarro, did everything wrong they possibly could in trade talks with China, from arguing in front of their hosts to leaking to the press, which only caused the Chinese to hunker down. They left Beijing with nothing but vague promises — and yet Trump climbed down from his threat to launch a trade war, which he once said would be “easy to win”. Read more
Spain Rejects Catalan Cabinet Picks, Maintains Direct Rule
Spain has rejected four of the ministers nominated by the newly inaugurated Catalan president, Quim Torra, postponing the restoration of autonomy in the region.
Spanish authorities have described the cabinet picks as a “provocation”. The reason is that two of them are in jail, awaiting trial for their role in the October 1 referendum, while the other two have fled to Belgium.
Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for a “viable” Catalan government.
El País reports that Rajoy’s refusal to restore home rule has created the novel situation “in which Torra is the head of the Catalan government, yet each regional department will continue to answer to the national minister currently in charge of each area.” Read more
Italy Government Deal: What’s In It and What’s Next
Italy’s populist Five Star Movement and (formerly Northern) League have finalized a coalition agreement.
Among their policies are:
Reducing personal and business taxes to two rates: 15 and 20 percent.
A €780 monthly basic income for poor families.
Repealing 2011 pension reforms that raised the retirement age and made the system financially sustainable.
Withdrawal of EU sanctions on Moscow.
Speeding up the deportation of around 500,000 immigrants.
The final version of the text does not call for a pathway for countries to leave the euro, nor does it call on the European Central Bank to cancel €250 billion in Italian debt. These proposals had been in leaked drafts.
However, the planned fiscal measures will almost certainly cause Italy to break the EU’s 3-percent deficit ceiling. Read more