Spanish Right Takes Harder Line on Catalonia, Immigration

Pablo Casado greets members of the executive committee of Spain's People's Party in Barcelona, July 26
Pablo Casado greets members of the executive committee of Spain’s People’s Party in Barcelona, July 26 (PP)

The new Spanish conservative party leader, Pablo Casado, is making good on his promise to move the People’s Party to the right.

  • In talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who leads a minority left-wing government, Casado refused to support dialogue with Catalan parties that advocate unilateral secession.
  • Separately, he argued Spain cannot “absorb millions of Africans who want to come to Europe in search of a better future.”

Both positions mark a hardening from those of Casado’s predecessor, and the previous prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. Read more

Puigemont’s Bid for Relevance Divides Catalan Independence Parties

Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont, the leaders of the Catalan ruling party, deliver a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, March 1, 2017
Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont, the leaders of the Catalan ruling party, deliver a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, March 1, 2017 (Generalitat de Catalunya/Rubén Moreno)

Deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s bid for continued political relevance is dividing the two largest independence parties in the region.

  • The Republican Left is refusing to join Puigdemont’s latest political vehicle, the National Call for the Republic, which is meant to succeed the electoral list he led into last year’s regional election, Together for Catalonia.
  • The Republican Left also argues that both parties must respect a Supreme Court ruling and suspend from parliament those six lawmakers who are awaiting trial for their role in last year’s independence referendum. Together for Catalonia argues that Puigdemont doesn’t have to give up his seat, because — unlike the leader of the Republican Left, Oriol Junqueras — he is still a free man. Read more

Catalan and Spanish Leaders Take Steps to Normalize Relations

Catalan president Quim Torra is welcomed by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez in Madrid, July 9
Catalan president Quim Torra is welcomed by Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez in Madrid, July 9 (La Moncloa)

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez and Catalan president Quim Torra have met for the first time.

The fact that a simple meeting is considered a step forward says something about how poorly Sánchez’ conservative predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, managed relations between the Spanish state and its richest — and rebellious — region.

Beyond the symbolism of the meeting, the two leaders made substantive progress. Read more

Sánchez Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Federalizing Spain

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016
Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016 (PSOE)

There is hope here in Catalonia that the new Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, will be more conciliatory than the last. But he mustn’t make the same mistake as his predecessor, I argue in an op-ed for the Netherlands’ NRC newspaper. Read more

Spain Lifts Catalan Spending Controls, Hints at Constitutional Reform

Pedro Sánchez addresses a conference of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party January 30, 2016
Pedro Sánchez addresses a conference of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party January 30, 2016 (PSOE)

Spain has lifted controls on Catalonia’s public finances and called for constitutional reforms to dissuade the region from breaking away.

The goodwill measures of the new Socialist government are an about-face from the clampdown under conservative prime minister Mariano Rajoy, who was ousted in a confidence vote last week.

Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez, the new prime minister, backed Rajoy when he suspended Catalonia’s autonomy in the wake of the October 1 independence referendum. But he also argued for talks to convince a majority of Catalans to stay in Spain. Rajoy refused to so much as sit down with the region’s separatists. 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

Spain Rejects Catalan Cabinet Picks, Maintains Direct Rule

Prime Ministers Binali Yıldırım of Turkey and Mariano Rajoy of Spain deliver a news conference in Madrid, April 24
Prime Ministers Binali Yıldırım of Turkey and Mariano Rajoy of Spain deliver a news conference in Madrid, April 24 (La Moncloa)

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