Democratic Primary News

Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California visits the aircraft carrier USS Teddy Roosevelt, June 2, 2017
Democratic senator Kamala Harris of California visits the aircraft carrier USS Teddy Roosevelt, June 2, 2017 (Office of Senator Kamala Harris)
  • California senator Kamala Harris has ended her presidential bid.
  • Support for Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren has fallen from a high of 26 percent to under 15 percent since she announced her Medicare-for-all plan.
  • Former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg is officially in the race and trying an unconventional strategy: bypassing the first four primary states.
  • Former vice president Joe Biden remains at the top of the field with 25 to 30 percent support. Read more

Germany’s Social Democrats Elect Left-Wing Leaders

Norbert Walter-Borjans, then finance minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, addresses the Bundesrat in Berlin, February 20, 2014
Norbert Walter-Borjans, then finance minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, addresses the Bundesrat in Berlin, February 20, 2014 (Bundesrat/Frank Bräuer)

Earlier this month, I argued that lurching to the left would be a risky strategy for Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), but that the alternative — staying in a grand coalition with the center-right — is too.

A change could scare off centrist voters, who have an alternative in Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats or Germany’s pragmatic Green party. But the grand coalition has wearied leftists, who have an alternative in the Greens and the far-left Die Linke.

Not making a clear choice has been worst of all. The SPD has fallen below 15 percent in recent polls, behind the Christian Democrats and Greens and neck and neck with the far-right Alternative for Germany. Read more

Top European Lawyer Argues in Favor of Catalan Politicians

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

Maciej Szpunar, an advocate general at the European Court of Justice, has argued in favor of Catalan politicians who were elected to the European Parliament in May but have been prevented by the Spanish government from taking their seats.

Former regional president Carles Puigdemont and former regional health minister Toni Comín, both of the center-right Together for Catalonia party, have been living in self-imposed exile in Belgium since 2017 to avoid arrest for leading a failed independence bid that year.

Oriol Junqueras, the former leader of the Republican Left, stayed in Spain and was sentenced to thirteen years in prison last month for misuse of public funds and sedition against the Spanish state. Read more

Democratic Primary News

Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9
Former American vice president Joe Biden campaigns in Clear Lake, Iowa, August 9 (Gage Skidmore)
  • Beto O’Rourke has dropped out.
  • Joe Biden has pulled ahead of the other candidates in the endorsement primary.
  • Elizabeth Warren has released a plan to pay for Medicare-for-all.
  • Kamala Harris has pulled out of New Hampshire and is focusing entirely on Iowa.
  • Biden is at 27 percent support in recent polls, followed by Warren at 21, Bernie Sanders at 17, Pete Buttigieg at 8 and Harris at 5.
  • Biden is down from a high of 40 percent in May, when Warren was polling at just 8 percent. Read more

Catalan Independence Leaders Sentenced to 9-13 Years in Prison

Catalans demonstrate for independence from Spain in Barcelona, October 3, 2017
Catalans demonstrate for independence from Spain in Barcelona, October 3, 2017 (Fotomovimiento)
  • Nine Catalan separatist leaders have been found guilty of sedition and in some cases misuse of public funds by Spain’s Supreme Court.
  • Among the convicted is former Catalan vice president, and leader of one of the two largest independence parties in the region, Oriol Junqueras, who has been sentenced to thirteen years in prison.
  • The Supreme Court threw out the most serious charge, rebellion, which carries a 25-year prison sentence.
  • Demonstrations have broken out across Catalonia. Protesters are blocking major streets in Barcelona. Some are attempting to occupy the airport. Read more

Little Movement in Spanish Election Polls

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez speaks at a congress of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party in Huesca, October 1
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez speaks at a congress of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party in Huesca, October 1 (PSOE/Eva Ercolanese)

There hasn’t been a lot of movement in the polls since Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez failed to form a government in September and early elections were called for November. Read more

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 as many 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 the middle class and pardons for Catalan leaders who are on trial for organizing an unauthorized independence vote two years ago.

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

Polls suggest the Citizens could lost a quarter of their support in an early election. 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 is now. Read more