Sánchez Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Federalizing Spain

There is hope here in Catalonia that the new Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, will be more conciliatory than the last. But he mustn’t make the same mistake as his predecessor, I argue in an op-ed for the Netherlands’ NRC newspaper.

Mariano Rajoy denied the Catalans a referendum on independence and radicalized the region’s autonomy movement. Whereas only one in five Catalans wanted to secede from Spain when he took office, now 40 to 50 percent do.

Similarly, in the Basque Country, only one in five want to break away. But many more want a referendum. The Basques, whose culture and language predate Spain’s, believe they have a right to self-determination.

Sánchez, so far, disagrees. But he has shown magnanimity toward the Catalans, lifting spending controls on the regional government and raising the possibility of constitutional reform. Sánchez shouldn’t fear a federal Spain, I write — and he has no time to lose.

His Socialist government has a majority of four. Right-wing parties oppose more autonomy for the Basque Country and Catalonia. The liberal Citizens, who take the hardest line, are the biggest party in the polls. If Sánchez wants to make his mark, he must do so before elections in 2020.

Sánchez Seek Leading Role in EU, Conservatives Play Petty Politics

Pedro Sánchez
Pedro Sánchez speaks at a conference of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, January 30, 2016 (PSOE)

Pedro Sánchez is filling his cabinet with what the Financial Times describes as respected European figures:

  • Nadia Calviño, the European Commission’s director general for budget, becomes Spain’s economy minister. She is considered “one of the brightest talents in the EU institutions.”
  • Josep Borrell, a former president of the European Parliament, is to become foreign minister. A native of Catalonia, he opposes independence for the region.

The appointments suggest Sánchez intends to be “a driving force in Brussels” while he is around. He is keen on French president Emmanuel Macron’s proposals for EU reform — unlike his conservative predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, who allied with Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel. Read more “Sánchez Seek Leading Role in EU, Conservatives Play Petty Politics”

Spain’s Rajoy Forced Out, Sánchez Elected Prime Minister

Pablo Iglesias Pedro Sánchez
Spanish party leaders Pablo Iglesias and Pedro Sánchez speak in Madrid, February 5, 2016 (PSOE)
  • Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy has lost a confidence vote in Congress in the wake of a corruption scandal in his conservative party.
  • Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez takes his place with the support of the far left and regionalists.
  • According to polls, the liberal Citizens stand to gain the most from early elections. Read more “Spain’s Rajoy Forced Out, Sánchez Elected Prime Minister”

Sánchez Makes Good on Promise to Move Spain’s Socialists to the Left

Pedro Sánchez is making good on his promise to move Spain’s Socialist Party to the left.

In the clearest sign yet of a new program, the Socialists refused to vote for a European trade pact with Canada in the national legislature last week.

Their deputies in the European Parliament did endorse the treaty when it came up for a vote there in February.

The ruling conservatives managed to ratify the treaty anyway with support from smaller parties in the center. But the Socialists’ abstention is a sign of things to come.

Sánchez has also made overtures to Podemos, prompting the People’s Party’s number three, Fernando Martínez-Maillo, to accuse him of competing with the far-left leader, Pablo Iglesias, “to see who is more extremist.” Read more “Sánchez Makes Good on Promise to Move Spain’s Socialists to the Left”

Pedro Sánchez 2.0

It was the result Spain’s Socialist bigwigs had feared: a resounding victory for Pedro Sánchez in their party’s primary on Sunday, beating Andalusia premier Susana Díaz and former Basque premier Patxi López to become leader for a second time.

Many had believed Sánchez was dead and buried last autumn, when his first spell as leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) ended in acrimony. His ouster had been triggered by two poor general election results, followed by a refusal to abstain in a parliamentary investiture vote in order to allow Mariano Rajoy to form a new conservative administration.

But this has been one of the unlikeliest political resurrections Spain has seen, made possible by an equally unlikely makeover on the part of Sánchez. Read more “Pedro Sánchez 2.0”

Sánchez’ Revenge: Spanish Socialist Leader Stages Comeback

The former leader of Spain’s Socialist Party, Pedro Sánchez, has avenged himself against the woman who led a coup against him last year.

Susana Díaz, the regional president of Andalusia, was the favorite to win the party leadership. She had the backing of regional bosses and the Socialist Party machine.

Yet it was Sánchez who prevailed. With 85 percent of the votes counted, he had built up enough of a lead on Sunday night to call the primary in his favor.

Sánchez won almost 50 percent support against 40 percent for Díaz. The remaining 10 percent went to Patxi López, the former president of the Basque Country. Read more “Sánchez’ Revenge: Spanish Socialist Leader Stages Comeback”

Let Spain’s Socialist Party Rebels Spell Out Their Alternative

Spain’s Socialist Party is split. Half its executive committee resigned on Wednesday in a bid to oust Pedro Sánchez, the party leader, but Sánchez and his loyalists are pressing ahead with their plan to call a party congress and leadership election in the autumn in an attempt to demonstrate grassroots support.

Politico argues that the odds are against Sánchez. His party governs in seven of Spain’s seventeen regions, and only one regional leader backs him.

Among his six detractors is Susana Díaz, the popular president of Andalusia, Spain’s most populous and southernmost region and a Socialist Party stronghold. Read more “Let Spain’s Socialist Party Rebels Spell Out Their Alternative”

Pedro Sánchez: The Man Without Options

The polls for this weekend’s elections in Spain have been pretty consistent. The results are likely to repeat the electoral stalemate of the last election, in December. The conservative People’s Party will be the largest, but it, and the center-right Ciudadanos, will not win enough seats to form a government. The only difference this time is that the Unidos Podemos, a coalition of the anti-establishment Podemos party and the far-left Izquierda Unida, would replace the Socialists as the second largest party in parliament. According to one poll, the combined left could come close to an absolute majority.

All of this is a nightmare for Pedro Sánchez, the youthful Socialist Party leader. He looks set to face a number of options, all of them bad for him and his party.

Sánchez will be the leader of the third party and no longer the leader of the Spanish left. He will have the power to decide who governs, but neither of his coalition options would please what is left of his supporters. Read more “Pedro Sánchez: The Man Without Options”

Agile Sánchez Seen Putting Together Coalition in Spain

If outgoing Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy was waiting for his Socialist Party rival to fail at forming a coalition government, he may have underestimated Pedro Sánchez’s agility.

The left-wing party leader was reported to be close to reaching a deal with the liberal Ciudadanos on Tuesday, which would be the first step toward finding a majority in parliament.

The Ciudadanos and the Socialists do not command a majority between them. Nor does Rajoy’s People’s Party, which went down from 187 to 123 seats in December’s election.

A right-wing pact between Rajoy’s conservatives and the forty members of the Ciudadanos would come close to the 176 seats needed for a majority. But it now seems more likely that Sánchez will succeed in getting the third- and fourth largest parties to support him instead. Read more “Agile Sánchez Seen Putting Together Coalition in Spain”

No Good Coalition Options for Spain’s Socialists

King Felipe VI has asked Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez to form a government after the outgoing prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, rejected a mandate last month.

Rajoy’s People’s Party won the most seats in December’s election but lost its majority.

Sánchez’s Socialists, who last governed from 2004 to 2011, also lost seats and came in second.

They have rejected Rajoy’s proposal to form a grand coalition between the two mainstream parties — which would be unprecedented in Spain — and will try to put together a coalition on the left instead.

“From tomorrow on, we will speak to all the political forces,” Sánchez told reporters in Madrid. Read more “No Good Coalition Options for Spain’s Socialists”