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

How Should Europe Deal with the Putin Apologist in the White House?

American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12
American president Donald Trump and Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte arrive to a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12 (NATO)

I’m glad Donald Trump’s shameful behavior in Helsinki, coming on the heels of his ally-bashing in Brussels and the United Kingdom, is finally waking up even conservatives to the fact that we have a Putin apologist in the White House.

When former intelligence chiefs start to call the president a traitor for accepting Vladimir Putin’s denials of waging information warfare on the United States, we should perhaps ask ourselves if Jonathan Chait didn’t have a point when he argued in New York magazine that the Trump-Russia scandal could be worse than we thought?

For us in Europe, the why matters less than the what. Whatever Trump’s motives, we must deal with an American president who is determined to sabotage the Atlantic alliance and establish an accord with Putin.

The question is, how? 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

Theresa May Loses Pro-Brexit Ministers

British Conservative Party leaders Theresa May and Boris Johnson
British Conservative Party leaders Theresa May and Boris Johnson (The Prime Minister’s Office/i-Images)
  • Brexit Secretary David Davis and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have resigned from Theresa May’s government.
  • Both opposed her Brexit strategy of seeking as close as trade relationship with the EU as possible without accepting free movement of EU nationals. Read more

Everything You Need to Know About the Conservative Primary in Spain

Spanish People's Party leaders Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Pablo Casado
Spanish People’s Party leaders Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Pablo Casado (La Moncloa/PP)

The battle for the leadership of the Spanish right is now a two-person race: Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Pablo Casado have emerged from a poll of party members as the frontrunners.

Sáenz de Santamaría, the former deputy prime minister and a confidant of outgoing People’s Party leader Mariano Rajoy, won 37 percent support against 34 percent for Casado, an ambitious right-wing lawmaker and the party’s communications chief.

Former defense minister María Dolores de Cospedal placed third with 26 percent support. She is likely to throw her support behind Casado. Read more

Brexiteers Are Still in Denial About What Leaving the EU Means

British prime minister Theresa May speaks with ministers at her Chequers country retreat in Buckinghamshire, England, February 22
British prime minister Theresa May speaks with ministers at her Chequers country retreat in Buckinghamshire, England, February 22 (MoD)

British ministers are due to meet at the prime minister’s Chequers country retreat this weekend to hammer out a Brexit strategy.

The conclave is unlikely to produce a breakthrough. The EU hasn’t budged from its position. Neither have hardliners in Theresa May’s government. Read more

Nine EU Countries Establish Joint Military Intervention Force

A pilot and maintenance crew work on a French Mirage fighter jet at Albacete Airport, Spain, November 2, 2015
A pilot and maintenance crew work on a French Mirage fighter jet at Albacete Airport, Spain, November 2, 2015 (Cynthia Vernat)

Nine European countries have agreed to establish a joint military intervention force. The proposal came from French president Emmanuel Macron.

The European Intervention Initiative is separate from the EU and NATO, allowing the United Kingdom, which is leaving the European Union, to take part.

Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain will also provide troops.

Italy, under a new populist government, has backtracked on its initial support but not ruled out joining later. Read more