Spain Will Almost Certainly Have to Call Elections Again

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)

A possible last-minute deal between Spain’s ruling Socialist Party and the liberal Citizens collapsed on Tuesday, forcing caretaker prime minister Pedro Sánchez to either attempt a stitch-up with the far left or call elections in November, which would Spain’s fourth in three years.

The Citizens, who had for months ruled out voting in Sánchez’ favor over his willingness to negotiate with the ruling parties in Catalonia, offered to abstain from an investiture vote if the Socialist ruled out taxes increases on middle incomes and pardons for separatist leaders who are on trial for organizing an unauthorized independence vote in the northeastern region two years ago.

Sánchez claims he agreed to the terms; the Citizens insist he did not.

Polls suggest the Citizens stand the most to lose from early elections. Their indecisiveness is causing them to lose voters to both the Socialists on the left and the People’s Party on the right.

But the Socialists are unlikely to gain enough support for a majority, meaning in two months Spain could be back where it started. Read more

Renzi Won’t Become the Italian Macron

Italian Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi visits a police academy in Rome, November 9, 2016
Italian Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi visits a police academy in Rome, November 9, 2016 (Palazzo Chigi)

Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi is leaving the Democrats to form his own new centrist party. Some thirty lawmakers are reportedly ready to go with him.

Renzi, a social democrat, is hoping to do for Italy what Emmanuel Macron did for France.

Don’t bet on it. Read more

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There Is No Better Brexit Deal

Flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, January 29, 2016
Flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, January 29, 2016 (European Commission)

There is no better Brexit deal to be had.

The European Commission’s spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, confirmed it on Wednesday, when she said, “There has been no change in our position on the matter” of the Northern Ireland backstop, which is the main reason Britain’s Parliament has thrice voted down the withdrawal agreement.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, confirmed it in an op-ed for The Sunday Telegraph, in which he described the backstop as the “maximum amount of flexibility that the EU can offer to a non-member state.”

Britain isn’t listening. Read more

Italy’s Problem Is Not Its Electoral System

The facade of the Palazzo Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian parliament, in Rome
The facade of the Palazzo Montecitorio, the seat of the Italian parliament, in Rome (Shutterstock)

Alberto Mingardi of the libertarian Bruno Leoni Institute in Milan argues in Politico that the “deep roots” of Italy’s coalition chaos lie in an electoral system that makes it hard for any one party to govern.

I think the roots actually go deeper than that. Read more

Britain Tries the Tsipras Approach to Negotiating with the EU

Copies of Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper on sale in Oberding, July 3, 2015
Copies of Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper on sale in Oberding, July 3, 2015 (Tomas Thoren)

Brexiteers learn nothing.

Less than two months away from Britain’s deadline to leave the EU, they still believe they can bluff their way to a better deal.

Hence Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resistance to legislation that would block a no-deal Brexit. He and his allies claim that to get a better exit agreement, the EU needs to know that Britain is prepared to walk away.

This is the Alexis Tsipras approach: give me what I want or I’ll shoot myself in the head.

It didn’t work for Greece and it won’t work for the UK. Read more

Democratic Race Stable as Ten Candidates Qualify for Debate

Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Iowa City, Iowa, May 1, 2018
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Iowa City, Iowa, May 1, 2018 (Biden for President)

Ten candidates have qualified for the third Democratic presidential debate, to be held in two weeks’ time, putting pressure on the low-polling candidates to drop out.

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who failed to qualify, ended her campaign on Wednesday, joining John Hickenlooper, Jay Inslee, Seth Moulton and Eric Swalwell.

Michael Bennet, Bill de Blasio, Steve Bullock, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Tim Ryan, Tom Steyer and Marianne Williamson remain in the race, although they have failed to attract support.

The ten candidates who qualified are: Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julián Castro, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

Of those, Biden is the clear frontrunner while Sanders and Warren share second place in the polls. Read more