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

Sánchez Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Federalizing Spain

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016
Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016 (PSOE)

There is hope here in Catalonia that the new Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, will be more conciliatory than the last. But he mustn’t make the same mistake as his predecessor, I argue in an op-ed for the Netherlands’ NRC newspaper. Read more

Sánchez Seek Leading Role in EU, Conservatives Play Petty Politics

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015 (PSOE)

Pedro Sánchez is filling his cabinet with what the Financial Times describes as respected European figures:

  • Nadia Calviño, the European Commission’s director general for budget, becomes Spain’s economy minister. She is considered “one of the brightest talents in the EU institutions.”
  • Josep Borrell, a former president of the European Parliament, is to become foreign minister. A native of Catalonia, he opposes independence for the region.

The appointments suggest Sánchez intends to be “a driving force in Brussels” while he is around. He is keen on French president Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for EU reform — unlike his conservative predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, who allied with Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel. Read more

Spain’s Rajoy Forced Out, Sánchez Elected Prime Minister

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Pablo Iglesias meet in Madrid, February 5, 2016 (PSOE)
  • Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has lost a confidence vote in parliament in the wake of a corruption scandal in his conservative party.
  • The Socialist Party’s Pedro Sánchez takes his place with the support of far-left and regionalist parties. Read more

Sánchez Makes Good on Promise to Move Spain’s Socialists to the Left

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

Pedro Sánchez is making good on his promise to move Spain’s Socialist Party to the left.

In the clearest sign yet of a new program, the Socialists refused to vote for a European trade pact with Canada in the national legislature last week.

Their deputies in the European Parliament did endorse the treaty when it came up for a vote there in February.

The ruling conservatives managed to ratify the treaty anyway with support from smaller parties in the center. But the Socialists’ abstention is a sign of things to come. Read more

Pedro Sánchez 2.0

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez celebrates his victory in Madrid, May 21
Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez celebrates his victory in Madrid, May 21 (PSOE)

It was the result Spain’s Socialist bigwigs had feared: a resounding victory for Pedro Sánchez in their party’s primary on Sunday, beating Andalusia premier Susana Díaz and former Basque premier Patxi López to become leader for a second time.

Many had believed Sánchez was dead and buried last autumn, when his first spell as leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) ended in acrimony. His ouster had been triggered by two poor general election results, followed by a refusal to abstain in a parliamentary investiture vote in order to allow Mariano Rajoy to form a new conservative administration.

But this has been one of the unlikeliest political resurrections Spain has seen, made possible by an equally unlikely makeover on the part of Sánchez. Read more

Sánchez’ Revenge: Spanish Socialist Leader Stages Comeback

Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016
Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez listens during a meeting in Madrid, April 12, 2016 (PSOE)

The former leader of Spain’s Socialist Party, Pedro Sánchez, has avenged himself against the woman who led a coup against him last year.

Susana Díaz, the regional president of Andalusia, was the favorite to win the party leadership. She had the backing of regional bosses and the Socialist Party machine.

Yet it was Sánchez who prevailed. With 85 percent of the votes counted, he had built up enough of a lead on Sunday night to call the primary in his favor. Read more