After Historic Defeat, Spain’s Center-Right U-Turns

Spanish People's Party leader Pablo Casado attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018
Spanish People’s Party leader Pablo Casado attends a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Brussels, October 17, 2018 (EPP)

Spain’s conservative party leader, Pablo Casado, is belatedly appealing to the center after presiding over the worst parliamentary election result in his People’s Party’s history.

Support for the formerly dominant center-right party went down from 33 to 17 percent in the election last month. The People’s Party lost more than half its seats in Congress and now has only nine more than its biggest competitor, the liberal Citizens.

Casado’s lurch to the right on everything from abortion to Catalan separatism to immigration did not convince far-right voters, who preferred the nativist Vox, but it did scare away moderates, who voted for the Citizens or Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ Socialists instead. Read more

Spanish Conservatives Balk at Terms of Deal with Far Right

Former Spanish defense minister María Dolores Cospedal confers with President Alberto Núñez Feijóo of Galicia during a People's Party congress in Seville, April 7, 2018
Former Spanish defense minister María Dolores Cospedal confers with President Alberto Núñez Feijóo of Galicia during a People’s Party congress in Seville, April 7, 2018 (PP)

Senior conservatives in Spain have balked at the terms set by the far-right party Vox to support their bid to form a center-right government in Andalusia. Read more

Kurzism Doesn’t Travel Well

Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, French Republican party leader Laurent Wauquiez and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attend a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Salzburg, September 19, 2018
Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, French Republican party leader Laurent Wauquiez and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier attend a meeting of European conservative party leaders in Salzburg, September 19, 2018 (EPP)

The Financial Times wonders if Austria’s Sebastian Kurz is the savior of Europe’s center-right or an enabler of the far right.

His supporters, including the liberal-minded former prime minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb, see the Austrian as the antidote to Orbanism:

He talks about an open world, internationalism and is pro-European. But he is pragmatic about solving issues. And one of the big issues is immigration.

Critics argue that by taking a hard line on immigration, Kurz is legitimizing the far right. “You don’t fight fire with kerosene,” according to former chancellor and former Social Democratic Party leader Christian Kern. Read more

Socialists Lose Election in Andalusia, Far Right Breaks Through

Susana Díaz, the president of Andalusia, answers questions from regional lawmakers in Seville, March 16, 2017
Susana Díaz, the president of Andalusia, answers questions from regional lawmakers in Seville, March 16, 2017 (Junta de Andalucía)

The right and far right did better in elections in Andalusia on Sunday than the polls had projected, possibly ending forty years of left-wing rule in the most populous region of Spain. Read more

Harder Line Neither Helps Nor Hurts Spain’s People’s Party — For Now

European commissioner Jyrki Katainen listens to Spanish People's Party leader Pablo Casado during a congress of the European People's Party in Helsinki, Finland, November 8
European commissioner Jyrki Katainen listens to Spanish People’s Party leader Pablo Casado during a congress of the European People’s Party in Helsinki, Finland, November 8 (EPP)

Pablo Casado has pulled Spain’s conservative People’s Party to the right, taking a harder line on everything from abortion to Catalonia to Gibraltar to immigration.

So far, it has neither helped nor hurt his party in the polls. Read more

The Spanish Right’s Gibraltar Hypocrisy

View of the Rock of Gibraltar from the territory's airport, September 29, 2015
View of the Rock of Gibraltar from the territory’s airport, September 29, 2015 (Shutterstock/Nigel Jarvis)

When Spain’s conservative People’s Party was in power, it promised not to exploit Britain’s exit from the EU to renegotiate the status of Gibraltar.

Now that the party is out of power, it blames the ruling Socialists for failing to do just that. Read more

Spanish Right Takes Harder Line on Catalonia, Immigration

Pablo Casado greets members of the executive committee of Spain's People's Party in Barcelona, July 26
Pablo Casado greets members of the executive committee of Spain’s People’s Party in Barcelona, July 26 (PP)

The new Spanish conservative party leader, Pablo Casado, is making good on his promise to move the People’s Party to the right.

  • In talks with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who leads a minority left-wing government, Casado refused to support dialogue with Catalan parties that want to break away from Spain.
  • Separately, he argued Spain cannot “absorb millions of Africans who want to come to Europe in search of a better future.”

Both positions mark a hardening from those of Casado’s predecessor, and the previous prime minister, Mariano Rajoy. Read more