Spain Isn’t Italy

The sun rises in Madrid, Spain, June 14, 2011
The sun rises in Madrid, Spain, June 14, 2011 (Wendy Rauw)

Given the timing over the political turmoil in Italy and Spain, it’s tempting to lump the two together and see one big threat to Europe’s political stability emanating from the south. (One example here.)

That’s not the wrong interpretation for Italy. The new government, of the populist Five Star Movement and far-right League, really is opposed to EU principles of liberal democracy and shared sovereignty.

In Spain, though, the change in government could work out in Europe’s favor, as I explain in my latest contribution to the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog. Read more

Trump Uses Pardon Power to Keep Friends Out of Jail

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The “Yankee caudillo” Donald Trump (The Washington Post)

When Donald Trump pardoned Joe Arpaio last year before the former Arizona sheriff could even be sentenced for criminal contempt of court, I wrote it reminded me of that adage of South American dictators: “For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the law.”

It has only become worse since then.

Read more

Five Star, League Reach Deal to Form Government in Italy After All

Luigi Di Maio, the leader of Italy's Five Star Movement, answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 12
Luigi Di Maio, the leader of Italy’s Five Star Movement, answers questions from reporters in Rome, April 12 (Presidenza della Repubblica)

The leaders of Italy’s Five Star Movement and League have reached a deal to stave off early elections.

Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini still want Giuseppe Conte, an academic, as prime minister. But they are willing to relent on the selection of finance minister.

Paolo Savona, whose nomination sparked a constitutional crisis, would still join the cabinet, but as European affairs — not finance — minister. That post would go to Giovanni Tria, an economics lecturer. Read more

Everything You Need to Know About the Confidence Vote in Spain

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, November 19, 2014
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, November 19, 2014 (La Moncloa)

Spanish lawmakers are debating whether or not to remove Mariano Rajoy as prime minister. A no-confidence motion introduced by the opposition Socialist Party is due to be voted on tomorrow.

Here is everything you need to know about the vote, including its chances of success. Read more

Catalans Again Compromise. Will Spain Too?

Quim Torra enters the parliament of Catalonia to be sworn in as the region's president, May 14
Quim Torra enters the parliament of Catalonia to be sworn in as the region’s president, May 14 (Miguel González de la Fuente)

Catalonia’s separatists have again compromised, withdrawing four proposed regional ministers who were unacceptable to Spain.

The question now is: will Spain restore autonomy? Or will it find yet another reason to maintain direct rule? Read more

Don’t Believe a Word Trump Says

American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26, 2017
American president Donald Trump speaks on the phone during a flight on Air Force One to Pennsylvania, January 26, 2017 (White House/Shealah Craighead)

Donald Trump’s latest allegation is that the FBI planted a “spy” in his presidential campaign and therefore the whole investigation into its ties to Russia is illegitimate.

This is hyperbole. Both Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Marco Rubio, a Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, have dismissed the president’s claim as nonsense.

What appears to have happened is that somebody in the campaign talked to the FBI — far from a spy, at best an informant.

This was when the bureau had already started investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, having been warned by foreign intelligence agencies and undoubtedly alarmed by the proliferation of Kremlin-friendly operatives around Trump, from Michael Flynn to Paul Manafort to Carter Page. Read more

Spain’s Prime Minister May Be Forced to Call Early Elections

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, October 11, 2017
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy makes a speech in parliament in Madrid, October 11, 2017 (La Moncloa)

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