Spain Rejects Catalan Cabinet Picks, Maintains Direct Rule
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
Italy Government Deal: What’s In It and What’s Next
Italy’s populist Five Star Movement and (formerly Northern) League have finalized a coalition agreement.
Among their policies are:
Reducing personal and business taxes to two rates: 15 and 20 percent.
A €780 monthly basic income for poor families.
Repealing 2011 pension reforms that raised the retirement age and made the system financially sustainable.
Withdrawal of EU sanctions on Moscow.
Speeding up the deportation of around 500,000 immigrants.
The final version of the text does not call for a pathway for countries to leave the euro, nor does it call on the European Central Bank to cancel €250 billion in Italian debt. These proposals had been in leaked drafts.
However, the planned fiscal measures will almost certainly cause Italy to break the EU’s 3-percent deficit ceiling. Read more
Italian Pact Would Deprive Macron of Ally for EU Reform
For the first time in its postwar history, Italy could soon be ruled by anti-EU parties. The populist Five Star Movement and (formerly Northern) League are on the verge of forming a coalition government.
Such a pact would deprive French president Emmanuel Macron of a key ally for EU reform. Read more
Who Is Catalonia’s New President and What Happens Next?
Quim Torra has been elected president of Catalonia with 66 to 65 votes in the regional legislature.
Torra was supported by his own party, Together for Catalonia, and its ally, the Republican Left. Both seek Catalan independence.
The smallest separatist party, the Popular Unity Candidacy, abstained to make it possible for Torra to take office, but it considered his predecessor, Carles Puigdemont, the only legitimate candidate.
Puigdemont, who led Together for Catalonia to victory in December’s election, was removed from power by Spain in the wake of the October 1 independence referendum that had been ruled illegal by the Constitutional Court. Read more