Spain’s uneven success story
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