Social Democrats in Iberia and Scandinavia Try Opposite Strategies

Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2
Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal greets his Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sánchez, in Lisbon, July 2 (Governo da República Portuguesa/Clara Azevedo)

What is the future of European social democracy? Your answer to that question may depend on where you live.

If you’re in the Mediterranean, it’s cooperation with the far left. Social democrats in Portugal and Spain have come to power under deals with far-left parties. In both cases, unwieldy coalitions were greeted with skepticism, but now Prime Ministers António Costa and Pedro Sánchez are riding high in the polls.

In Greece, Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party has even supplanted the center-left altogether.

In Scandinavia, by contrast, social democrats are trying to win back working-class voters by taking a harder line on borders, crime and defense.

Both strategies appear to be working. Read more

Spanish Right Takes Harder Line on Catalonia, Immigration

Pablo Casado greets members of the executive committee of Spain's People's Party in Barcelona, July 26
Pablo Casado greets members of the executive committee of Spain’s People’s Party in Barcelona, July 26 (PP)

The new Spanish conservative party leader, Pablo Casado, is making good on his promise to move the People’s Party to the right.

  • In talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who leads a minority left-wing government, Casado refused to support dialogue with Catalan parties that advocate unilateral secession.
  • Separately, he argued Spain cannot “absorb millions of Africans who want to come to Europe in search of a better future.”

Both positions mark a hardening from those of Casado’s predecessor, and the previous prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. 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

With Casado, Spain’s People’s Party Turns Right

Pablo Casado delivers a news conference for Spain's conservative People's Party, June 19, 2017
Pablo Casado delivers a news conference for Spain’s conservative People’s Party, June 19, 2017 (PP)

Pablo Casado has won the leadership of Spain’s conservative People’s Party with 57 to 42 percent support from party delegates.

Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, the former deputy prime minister, was considered the establishment favorite. Her defeat signals a desire for a more right-wing program. Casado’s economic policy is more liberal and he takes a hard line against the Catalan independence movement. Read more

Puigemont’s Bid for Relevance Divides Catalan Independence Parties

Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont, the leaders of the Catalan ruling party, deliver a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, March 1, 2017
Oriol Junqueras and Carles Puigdemont, the leaders of the Catalan ruling party, deliver a news conference in Barcelona, Spain, March 1, 2017 (Generalitat de Catalunya/Rubén Moreno)

Deposed Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s bid for continued political relevance is dividing the two largest independence parties in the region.

  • The Republican Left is refusing to join Puigdemont’s latest political vehicle, the National Call for the Republic, which is meant to succeed the electoral list he led into last year’s regional election, Together for Catalonia.
  • The Republican Left also argues that both parties must respect a Supreme Court ruling and suspend from parliament those six lawmakers who are awaiting trial for their role in last year’s independence referendum. Together for Catalonia argues that Puigdemont doesn’t have to give up his seat, because — unlike the leader of the Republican Left, Oriol Junqueras — he is still a free man. 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

Everything You Need to Know About the Conservative Primary in Spain

Spanish People's Party leaders Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Pablo Casado
Spanish People’s Party leaders Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Pablo Casado (La Moncloa/PP)

The battle for the leadership of the Spanish right is now a two-person race: Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría and Pablo Casado have emerged from a poll of party members as the frontrunners.

Sáenz de Santamaría, the former deputy prime minister and a confidant of outgoing People’s Party leader Mariano Rajoy, won 37 percent support against 34 percent for Casado, an ambitious right-wing lawmaker and the party’s communications chief.

Former defense minister María Dolores de Cospedal placed third with 26 percent support. She is expected to throw her support behind Casado. Read more