Summary of Recent Developments in Catalonia

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont delivers a televised address from the regional government palace in Barcelona, Spain, March 23, 2016
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont delivers a televised address from the regional government palace in Barcelona, Spain, March 23, 2016 (Generalitat de Catalunya/Jordi Bedmar)

Here is what has happened in Catalonia since the separatists defended their majority in the regional legislature in December. Read more

Netherlands Has Responsibility to Lead After Brexit: Rutte

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte joins a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, January 20, 2016
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte joins a debate in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, January 20, 2016 (European Parliament)

The Netherlands has a responsibility to lead after Brexit and worries that Germany is putting too much faith in “more Europe”, Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said.

In an interview with the Sunday morning talk show Buitenhof, the liberal party leader pointed out that he had recently held summits with other Benelux nations, the Balts, Central Europeans and Nordics.

Unusually, he took a stab at Germany, where the next government is expected to be more integrationist.

“Of course, Germany can transfer more money to Europe,” Rutte said in jest. “I have no objection to that. We take a different view.” Read more

Retired Military Chiefs Caution Trump Against North Korea Strike

Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of America's Joint Chiefs of Staff, visits Beijing, China, July 11, 2011
Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of America’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, visits Beijing, China, July 11, 2011 (DoD/Chad J. McNeeley)

The Financial Times quotes four retired American military officials cautioning President Donald Trump against attacking North Korea. Read more

Italy’s Right Makes Pact, Democrats Open Door to Grand Coalition

Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, listens to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi during a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 19, 2017
Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, listens to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi during a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 19, 2017 (EPP)

Italy’s two other right-wing parties have given into a demand from the leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League, Matteo Salvini, for a “pact” against “shady deals” with the center-left.

A joint manifesto unveiled this weekend promises lower taxes, lower immigration and the reversal of a long-overdue raise in the pension age.

Salvini has ruled out deals with centrists, saying the “three legs” of the conservative movement — counting his own party, Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the smaller Brothers of Italy — are enough to win the election in March.

The three are polling at close to 40 percent support, which may be enough to form a government. Read more

Catalonia in Common Rules Out Supporting Unionist Government

Inés Arrimadas, the leader of Catalonia's Citizens party, films an election commercial in Barcelona, November 26, 2017
Inés Arrimadas, the leader of Catalonia’s Citizens party, films an election commercial in Barcelona, November 26, 2017 (Ciutadans)

Catalonia’s far left has ruled out supporting a regional government led by the pro-business and unionist Citizens party, making another separatist administration almost inevitable.

Although the Citizens placed first in December’s election, winning 36 out of 135 seats, their gains came at the expense of other parties that want Catalonia to remain Spanish.

The balance between separatists and unionists has barely changed: the former have seventy seats, the latter 57.

The remaining eight seats went to Catalonia in Common, a left-wing alliance that includes the regional branch of Podemos. It rejects both independence and Spain’s suspension of Catalan home rule. Read more

Both Sides Claim Victory in Catalonia

Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaks with his predecessor, Artur Mas, in Barcelona, Spain, February 12, 2016
Catalan president Carles Puigdemont speaks with his predecessor, Artur Mas, in Barcelona, Spain, February 12, 2016 (Generalitat de Catalunya/Jordi Bedmar)

Both separatists and unionists are claiming victory in Catalonia after the election on Thursday gave a majority of the seats (seventy out of 135) but not the votes (47.5 percent) to the former.

The view from abroad is that nobody won. Read more

Italy’s Salvini Commits to Right-Wing Pact, Asks Same of Berlusconi

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 15
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s Northern League, gives a speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, March 15 (European Parliament)

Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s anti-immigrant Northern League, has ruled out reneging on a right-wing pact and asked Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of the mainstream conservatives, to do the same.

Both parties get around 15 percent support in recent surveys. In combination with smaller right-wing parties, they might just reach the 40 percent needed to form a government.

If they fall short, Salvini could theoretically team up with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, which is polling at 26-28 percent.

Salvini and the Five Stars share views on Europe and political reform, but they come at it from opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Both have ruled out an alliance. Read more