Spain’s Socialists, Podemos Eye Deal

Spanish party leaders Pablo Iglesias and Pedro Sánchez speak in Madrid, February 5, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pablo Iglesias and Pedro Sánchez speak in Madrid, February 5, 2016 (PSOE)

Spain’s ruling Socialist Party and the far-left Podemos are closing in on an agreement that could allow Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to stay in power until 2020.

Sánchez does not have a majority of his own. He came to power with the support of Podemos and small regionalist parties, but they have since voted against his 2019 budget proposal, putting his minority government in limbo. Read more

Italy’s Populists Come to Terms with Reality

Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte attends a meeting with Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio, August 15
Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte attends a meeting with Five Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio, August 15 (Governo Italiano)

Italy’s ruling Five Star Movement and League have shelved proposals for a universal basic income and flat tax, La Stampa reports.

Implementing either policy, let alone both, would have blown a hole in Italy’s public finances and broken the EU’s 3-percent deficit ceiling. Read more

“Only the Best People.” Two More Trump Campaign Officials Guilty

American president Donald Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, arrive for a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12
American president Donald Trump and his defense secretary, James Mattis, arrive for a NATO summit in Brussels, July 12 (NATO)

Remember Donald Trump’s promise to hire “only the best people”? Now at least five of his top campaign workers turn out to be criminals.

  • Paul Manafort, Trump’s second campaign chairman, has been found guilty of filing false tax returns, failing to report a foreign bank account and bank fraud. All the charges were related to his political work for pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. A jury in Virginia did not reach a verdict on allegations of bank fraud conspiracy.
  • Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal attorney, has pleaded guilty to tax evasion, making false financial statements and breaking campaign finance laws to pay off a Playboy model and a porn actress. Axios reports that, during his guilty plea, Cohen said he was directed to do so by an “unnamed candidate”. Guess who? Read more

EU Shields Companies from Trump’s New Sanctions on Iran

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and American president Donald Trump answer questions from reporters outside the White House in Washington DC, July 25
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and American president Donald Trump answer questions from reporters outside the White House in Washington DC, July 25 (European Commission/Etienne Ansotte)

The European Union has announced measures to protect companies that do business with Iran from American sanctions.

The BBC reports that an EU “blocking statute” bans European firms from complying with the sanctions, unless they get approval from the European Commission.

It also enables businesses to recover damages resulting from American sanctions on Iranian cars, gold and other metals. Read more

Abandoned by Allies, Spain’s Sánchez Loses Spending Vote

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17 (La Moncloa)

Spain’s Pedro Sánchez has lost his first big parliamentary vote, exposing the weakness of his minority government and blocking one of his priorities: to raise public spending. 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

Macron, Merkel Agree on Eurozone Reforms

French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Meseberg, June 19
French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Meseberg, June 19 (Bundesregierung)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has met many of French president Emmanuel Macron’s demands for eurozone reform during a meeting in Meseberg outside Berlin. Read more