Progress in German Coalition Talks, But Four Sticking Points
The parties negotiating to form a coalition government in Germany are nearing a self-imposed deadline to conclude preliminary talks.
German media report there are four sticking points:
Coal power: The Greens initially demanded closing Germany’s twenty most polluting coal plants. When the other parties balked, they suggested shuttering 10 gigawatts worth of coal-generating capacity. The others have offered 5 gigawatts.
Europe: The liberal Free Democrats oppose a eurozone budget and permanent bailout mechanism. The Christian Democrats and Greens are more supportive.
Family reunifications: The Christian Democrats are dead set against a Green party proposal to allow refugees to bring their relatives to live with them in Germany.
Immigration cap: In a concession to the right-wing Christian Social Union, Angela Merkel has agreed to a “soft” ceiling of 200,000 immigrants per year. The Greens reject this. Read more
Catalan Socialists Choose Opposition Over Deal with Separatists
Catalonia’s Socialists have taken themselves out of contention for the next coalition government by refusing deals with parties that, in the words of leader Miquel Iceta, have taken the region “to the brink of the abyss.”
Even if the European Democratic Party and the Republican Left, which jointly ruled Catalonia until the regional government was dissolved by Madrid, renounce secession, the Socialists would still not partner with them, Iceta said in a television interview.
He would not commit to a unionist pact with center-right parties either, thus condemning the Socialists to four more years in opposition. Read more
No Shock Therapy: Macri Takes Gradual Approach to Reform
Argentina’s Mauricio Macri and his coalition have reasserted their position as the party of government following last month’s mid-term elections. The first conservative to win the presidency since democracy was restored in 1983, his supporters won majorities in thirteen out of 23 provinces. They have also taken charge of five of the most populous districts in the capital Buenos Aires.
Yet Macri’s party, Cambiemos (Let’s Change), still doesn’t have a majority in Congress, which helps explain his step-by-step approach to reforming the economy. Read more
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has walked back his promise of constitutional reform, saying in a radio interview, “I have never been a supporter of reforming the Constitution. I’m prepared to listen, but not to go against unity or sovereignty.”
His only concession was to agree the current model of autonomous communities needs to be “evaluated” — but that could mean different things:
Left-wing parties argue for something close to federation, perhaps even with a right to self-determination for the Basques and Catalans.
Nationalists on the right, who felt Rajoy didn’t intervene strongly enough to disrupt the October 1 independence referendum in Catalonia, argue for centralization. Read more
Pier Luigi Bersani, the leader of Italy’s dissident leftist party, has opened the door to a pact with the ruling Democrats, saying, “If they want to talk to us, they must know that they should come with proposals.”
Bersani’s nemesis, Matteo Renzi, who toppled the older man in 2013, called for left-wing unity on Monday.
“There is more harmony with people with whom we have been divided by arguments and controversies than with our traditional rivals,” he argued. Read more
Don’t Exaggerate Russian Meddling in the Catalan Independence Crisis
Spanish media exaggerate Russia’s role in the Catalan independence crisis.
Russian state media, like RT and Sputnik, and Russia-friendly trolls, like WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, have predictably sought to exploit the crisis in a major European Union and NATO country, for three reasons:
To encouraging Catalan separatism.
To provoking an overreaction from the Spanish right.
To legitimizing the self-determination referendum it organized in the Crimea in 2014.
But there is little evidence Russian propaganda has changed anyone’s mind. Read more