Spanish Parties Rule Out Centrist Coalition After Election

Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera speak in Madrid, February 4, 2016
Spanish party leaders Pedro Sánchez and Albert Rivera speak in Madrid, February 4, 2016 (PSOE)

Spain’s liberal Citizens have ruled out a pact with outgoing prime minister Pedro Sánchez while the Catalan branch of his Socialist Party has said it will not support a deal with right-wing parties — making a centrist coalition after the election in April impossible. Read more

Jeremy Corbyn Is Not the British Bernie Sanders

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders (Catholic Church England and Wales/Lorie Shaull)

American leftists who are tempted to sympathize with British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn — don’t. He is not an overseas version of Bernie Sanders.

Both men were political outsiders for much of their careers until they unexpectedly rose to the tops of their respective parties. Both appeal to voters who are disillusioned with old politics. Both argue for a break with the neoliberalism-inspired “Third Way” in social democracy.

But that is where the similarities end. Read more

Seven Lawmakers Resign from Britain’s Labour Party

Chuka Umunna, member of the British Parliament for Streatham, makes a speech, March 30, 2015
Chuka Umunna, member of the British Parliament for Streatham, makes a speech, March 30, 2015 (Labour)

Seven lawmakers have resigned from Britain’s Labour Party, arguing that it has become “institutionally antisemitic” under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Read more

What to Expect from Snap Elections in Spain

The Palacio de las Cortes, seat of the Spanish Congress of Deputies, in Madrid, August 16, 2017
The Palacio de las Cortes, seat of the Spanish Congress of Deputies, in Madrid, August 16, 2017 (Shutterstock/Vivvi Smak)

Snap elections are likely in Spain after Catalan pro-independence parties joined the right-wing opposition in voting down Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ 2019 spending plan.

The Catalans gave Sánchez a majority to oust the People’s Party’s Mariano Rajoy in June. They demanded a legal independence referendum for their support, which Sánchez refused.

Here is how early elections could pan out. Read more

Tragedy in Catalonia

Night falls on Barcelona's Plaça de Catalunya, Spain, September 11, 2017
Night falls on Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya, Spain, September 11, 2017 (Sergio Marchi)

Twelve Catalans — ten politicians and two activists — went on trial this week for their role in the 2017 independence referendum and attempted secession from Spain.

There is a good chance the defendants, who include the former Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras — who still leads one of the region’s two largest pro-independence parties — will be found guilty of at least some of the charges against them. The Spanish Constitutional Court had, after all, forbidden the referendum in advance and the Spanish Constitution speaks of the “indissoluble unity” of the state.

Hopefully the Supreme Court in Madrid (which is separate from the Constitutional Court) will throw out the more serious — and much harder to prove — accusations of rebellion and sedition, which carry prison sentences of up to 25 years.

But even light sentences would be a tragedy. This trial should never have happened. The 2017 referendum, which most opponents of independence boycotted, should never have happened. The reason it did is that the Spanish government at the time, led by the conservative People’s Party, refused dialogue with an increasingly restless nationalist movement in Catalonia. Read more

Germany’s Nord Stream Climbdown Should Put Ostpolitik to Rest

German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin deliver a news conference in Sochi, May 18, 2018
German chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin deliver a news conference in Sochi, May 18, 2018 (Presidential Press and Information Office)

Frederick Studemann argues in the Financial Times that Germany’s Ostpolitik breathes its last in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline controversy.

Germany’s allies in Central European and North America have for years argued against the extension of the Baltic Sea pipeline, arguing — correctly — that it is a political project for Moscow. It doesn’t need the extra capacity. It wants to cut its dependence on Russia-wary transit states in Eastern Europe, most notably Ukraine. Read more

Updates from the Democratic Primary

Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota announces her presidential campaign in Minneapolis, February 11
Democratic senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota announces her presidential campaign in Minneapolis, February 11 (Lorie Shaull)
  • Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has announced a presidential bid. The three-term senator from a state Hillary Clinton nearly lost in 2016 could help win back the sort of blue-collar Midwestern voters who left the Democratic Party for Donald Trump. Although Klobuchar’s voting record is more left-wing than her image, she has notably not (yet) endorsed universal health care.
  • Elizabeth Warren has officially launched her presidential campaign with a combative speech focused on making life better for the American working class.
  • The Democratic political community is broadly and deeply pessimistic about Joe Biden‘s potential candidacy, McClatchy reports. Read more