Spain Isn’t Italy

Spain isn’t Italy. The next government in Madrid will almost certainly be more pro-European.

Madrid Spain
Downtown Madrid, Spain at night, January 5 (Shutterstock/Vivvi Smak)

Given the timing over the political turmoil in Italy and Spain, it’s tempting to lump the two together and see one big threat to Europe’s political stability emanating from the south. (One example here.)

That’s not the wrong interpretation for Italy. The new government, of the populist Five Star Movement and far-right League, really is opposed to EU principles of liberal democracy and shared sovereignty.

In Spain, though, the change in government could work out in Europe’s favor, as I explain in my latest contribution to the Atlantic Council’s New Atlanticist blog.

The party that stands to gain the most from early elections, the liberal Ciudadanos (Citizens), is the most pro-EU in the country. It wholeheartedly backs French president Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for deeper euro integration. Polls put its support at 24-28 percent, ahead of both the Socialists (20-23 percent) and the conservatives (16-20 percent).

The downside: the Citizens take an even harder line against the Catalan independence movement than Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister who was toppled last week.

Hopefully the Socialists, who led the effort to oust Rajoy and now rule Spain with the support of far-left and regional parties, will make good on their (timid) promise of constitutional reform. I still believe that more autonomy is the only way out of the crisis.

Click here to read the rest of my analysis for the Atlantic Council.