Spanish Parties Rule Out Centrist Coalition After Election

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)

Spain’s liberal Citizens have ruled out a pact with outgoing prime minister Pedro Sánchez while the Catalan branch of his Socialist Party has said it will not support a deal with right-wing parties — making a centrist coalition after the election in April impossible. Read more

What to Expect from Snap Elections in Spain

The Palacio de las Cortes, seat of the Spanish Congress of Deputies, in Madrid, August 16, 2017
The Palacio de las Cortes, seat of the Spanish Congress of Deputies, in Madrid, August 16, 2017 (Shutterstock/Vivvi Smak)

Snap elections are likely in Spain after Catalan pro-independence parties joined the right-wing opposition in voting down Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ 2019 spending plan.

The Catalans gave Sánchez a majority to oust the People’s Party’s Mariano Rajoy in June. They demanded a legal independence referendum for their support, which Sánchez refused.

Here is how early elections could pan out. Read more

Tragedy in Catalonia

Night falls on Barcelona's Plaça de Catalunya, Spain, September 11, 2017
Night falls on Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya, Spain, September 11, 2017 (Sergio Marchi)

Twelve Catalans — ten politicians and two activists — went on trial this week for their role in the 2017 independence referendum and attempted secession from Spain.

There is a good chance the defendants, who include the former Catalan vice president, Oriol Junqueras — who still leads one of the region’s two largest pro-independence parties — will be found guilty of at least some of the charges against them. The Spanish Constitutional Court had, after all, forbidden the referendum in advance and the Spanish Constitution calls the country’s unity “indissoluble”.

Hopefully the Supreme Court in Madrid (which is separate from the Constitutional Court) will throw out the more serious — and much harder to prove — accusations of rebellion and sedition, which carry prison sentences of up to 25 years.

But even light sentences would be a tragedy. This trial should never have happened. The 2017 referendum, which most opponents of independence boycotted, should never have happened. The reason it did is that the Spanish government at the time, led by the conservative People’s Party, refused dialogue with an increasingly restless nationalist movement in Catalonia. Read more

Spanish Right Loses Its Mind Over Concession to Catalans

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17, 2018
Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez addresses Congress in Madrid, July 17, 2018 (La Moncloa)

From the opprobrium being heaped on Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez from the right, you would think he had just signed away half the country.

Pablo Casado, the leader of the conservative People’s Party, has accused the socialist of “high treason” and argued Spain now faces the gravest threat to its democracy since the failed military coup of 1981.

Albert Rivera of the liberal Citizens has called Sánchez “a danger for Spain”.

What horrible crime has Sánchez committed?

He has agreed to appoint a facilitator in talks with the separatist government in Catalonia. Read more

Leaders of Spanish Far Left Split

Podemos deputies Iñigo Errejón and Pablo Iglesias listen to a debate in Spain's parliament in Madrid, April 12, 2016
Podemos deputies Iñigo Errejón and Pablo Iglesias listen to a debate in Spain’s parliament in Madrid, April 12, 2016 (Podemos)

The relatively moderate number two in Spain’s left-wing Podemos party, Iñigo Errejón, has broken with the leader, Pablo Iglesias, weakening the far left in a potentially crucial election year.

Errejón, who failed to unseat Iglesias in a leadership election in 2017, has formed his own pact with the incumbent mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, for the municipal elections in May.

Errejón wants the whole of Podemos to team up with Carmena, but Iglesias has ruled this out — and accused Errejón of betrayal. 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