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
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
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
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
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
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
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