Spain’s un­even suc­cess story

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

un­re­solved. The day af­ter Ra­joy’s de­posal, Quim Torra was sworn in as Cata­lan pres­i­dent – the first since Ra­joy dis­solved the Cata­lan re­gional gov­ern­ment last Oc­to­ber and in­sti­tuted di­rect rule af­ter an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum that Madrid de­clared il­le­gal but pro­ceeded any­way. mod­er­ate eco­nomic re­cov­ery has been ac­com­pa­nied by in­creas­ingly un­sta­ble pol­i­tics. In Ger­many, the anti-es­tab­lish­ment party Al­ter­na­tive for Ger­many is now the third-largest po­lit­i­cal party. In Italy, a hodgepodge of eu­roskep­tic, anti­estab­lish­ment par­ties have formed a Pode­mos (19.8%). Ra­joy’s Pop­u­lar Party and Sanchez’s So­cial­ist Party – the only two par­ties in Spain that have formed gov­ern­ments since 1982 – would come in third and fourth place, re­spec­tively.

Pode­mos sup­ports left-wing eco­nomic poli­cies, in­clud­ing in­creased state con­trol over the econ­omy and gov­ern­ment ser­vices, but it’s also a na­tion­al­ist party. Ci­u­dadanos, the cur­rent fron­trun­ner by a wide mar­gin, may be anti-es­tab­lish­ment but it’s not an­tiEU. It has com­bined Span­ish na­tion­al­ism with pro-EU and clas­si­cal lib­eral poli­cies like lower taxes and free trade. It’s com­pa­ra­ble to French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron’s En Marche party, and in­deed, the two par­ties have even re­port­edly been in touch re­cently, of­fer­ing hope to Europhiles that out of the week­end’s chaos might come a Span­ish gov­ern­ment sup­port­ive of French and Ger­man pro­pos­als to re­form the EU by giv­ing Brus­sels ex­panded pow­ers.

But for Spain, un­like Ger­many and France, this is all com­pli­cated by the fact that what is at stake is not just the sta­tus of the Euro­pean Union but the fu­ture of a uni­fied Spain it­self. Iron­i­cally, Ci­u­dadanos be­gan as a Cata­lan po­lit­i­cal party – its head­quar­ters are still in Barcelona. And yet, Ci­u­dadanos has taken a harsh line on the is­sue of Cata­lan sep­a­ratism, push­ing in­stead for a more tightly knit Span­ish na­tion-state. Pode­mos, head­quar­tered in Madrid, has thus far pre­sented it­self as more ac­com­mo­dat­ing than ei­ther the out­go­ing Span­ish gov­ern­ment or Ci­u­dadanos when it comes to Cat­alo­nia’s in­de­pen­dence move­ment. That makes some sense. It would ap­pear hyp­o­crit­i­cal for Pode­mos to sup­port anti-EU sen­ti­ment in Spain and then re­ject na­tion­al­ist sen­ti­ments in Cat­alo­nia.

Of course, all coun­tries have these sorts of di­vi­sions. In France, the di­vide is be­tween Paris and the rest of the coun­try. In Ger­many, the old East-West split of the Cold War is still alive and well. In the U.K., Brexit

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