Omar G. Encarnación

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Spain Is Doing Something Brave

Spain’s new amnesty law, on its way to the statute books after passing Congress in December, has ignited quite a ruckus. Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest the law — which provides a blanket pardon to hundreds of politicians, civil servants and ordinary citizens caught up in the illegal referendum on Catalan independence in October 2017 — and a majority of Spaniards oppose it. Many commentators and politicians, mainly on the right, have argued that the amnesty weakens the rule of law in Spain and even imperils the country’s democracy.

Much of the anger stems from how the amnesty deal came about.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesting an amnesty deal for Catalan separatists, Madrid, Spain, November 2023. Gleb Garanich / Reuters

Nearly four months after voters cast their ballots, the Spanish general elections have produced a new government. Despite coming second in the vote tally, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party has secured his position as the head of the government after protracted negotiations to gain a majority of seats in Spain’s Congress of Deputies. But the deal that will allow Sánchez to retain his job is embroiled in controversy: in exchange for support from a fringe separatist party, Together for Catalonia, or Junts, Sánchez promised a blanket amnesty for the civilians and officials involved in the 2017 extrajudicial referendum on Catalan independence.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pedro Sánchez, el presidente del gobierno de España y líder del Partido Socialista Obrero Español. Pau Barrena/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Se elige entre democracia y autocracia.

Así es como el presidente del gobierno español, Pedro Sánchez, de centroizquierda, enmarca las elecciones que se celebrarán este domingo. Cuando justificó su convocatoria de elecciones anticipadas, Sánchez estableció paralelismos entre España y otros países cuyas recientes elecciones estuvieron dominadas por el fantasma de un régimen iliberal de derechas. “Hay que aclarar”, dijo sobre la decisión de los españoles, “si quieren un presidente del gobierno de España al lado de Biden o de Trump, si quieren un presidente del gobierno del lado de Lula o de Bolsonaro”. Para no ser menos, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, principal oponente de Sánchez al frente del Partido Popular, conservador, lo acusó a él y a sus socios de coalición de izquierdas de actuar como “un régimen totalitario” y arropar a las autocracias latinoamericanas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pedro Sánchez, prime minister of Spain and leader of the Socialist Workers’ Party.Credit...Pau Barrena/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A choice between democracy and autocracy.

That’s how Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s center-left prime minister, is framing the coming election on Sunday. When justifying his call for a snap election, Mr. Sánchez drew parallels between Spain and other countries whose recent votes were dominated by the specter of an illiberal regime from the right. “The coming election”, he declared, “will clarify if Spaniards want a government on the side of Joe Biden or Donald Trump, of Lula da Silva or Jair Bolsonaro”. Not to be outdone, Mr. Sánchez’s main opponent, Alberto Núñez Feijóo of the conservative Popular Party, has accused Mr. Sánchez and his leftist coalition partners of “acting totalitarian” and cozying up to Latin American autocracies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Leaders of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) voting to commit to a referendum on independence, Lleida, Catalonia, Spain, January 28, 2023. Marc Trilla/Europa Press/Getty Images

At the end of May Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announced that Spaniards would go to the polls on July 23 to elect a new national government. It was a surprise announcement—the election was not expected until December—precipitated by the heavy losses that Sánchez’s social democratic Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) had just sustained in that month’s local and regional elections. If history is any guide, the coming vote will unleash a lot of political turbulence. In recent national elections neither the PSOE nor its nemesis, the conservative Popular Party (PP), has been able to secure a victory big enough to form a government on its own, making potential kingmakers out of other political forces, including, most notably, the leading separatist parties from Catalonia and the Basque Country.…  Seguir leyendo »

The uninhabited village of Sarnago in the northern province of Soria, Spain, February 2017. Cesar Manso/AFP/Getty Images

On March 31, 2019, residents of Madrid woke up to a mass demonstration of some 100,000 people in the streets decrying the problem of sangría demográfica, or demographic hemorrhaging. This arresting metaphor alludes to a depopulation crisis that has left large swaths of Spain barely inhabited. Under the banner “The Revolt of Emptied Spain”, protesters from twenty-four rural provinces complained of neglect from government agencies, poor Internet service, lack of access to transportation and healthcare, and indifference from Spanish multinationals and those who live in Spain’s thriving urban centers. Inspired by other successful demonstrations in the capital, such as those that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2005, their signs invoked the rhetoric of social justice and human rights: “Equality for all”, “My choice of lifestyle does not deprive me of my rights”, and “I am a rural citizen, and I am in danger of extinction”.…  Seguir leyendo »

The performance of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) in last month’s Spanish general election, in which the party won a plurality of seats in the lower house of parliament and a majority in the upper house, was not just a remarkable recovery in fortunes for Spanish Socialists. By limiting the gains of Vox, a far-right party whose opposition to immigration, feminism, and LGBT rights echoes the values that prevailed during the Franco dictatorship, the PSOE’s victory has also lifted the spirits of social-democratic parties across Europe as they battle rising nationalism, secessionism, and skepticism about European integration.

By far the most enthusiastic response has come from neighboring France, where the Socialist Party has been in complete disarray since the end of François Hollande’s administration in 2017.…  Seguir leyendo »

Algunos simpatizantes de la extrema derecha española se reunieron a principios de febrero de 2019 en la Plaza de Colón, en Madrid, para protestar contra el gobierno del presidente Pedro Sánchez. Credit Óscar del Pozo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Cualquiera que busque evidencias de lo irracional que puede ser la política que vea el caso de Cataluña en este momento.

A principios de este mes, los separatistas catalanes del Parlamento español votaron en contra de la propuesta de presupuesto nacional de 2019 del presidente del Gobierno español, el socialista Pedro Sánchez, por lo que se organizaron elecciones parlamentarias anticipadas, que se celebrarán a finales de abril. Los separatistas estaban tomando represalias contra Sánchez porque no aceptó el referendo por la independencia catalana. El último referendo, organizado en octubre de 2017 —declarado ilegal por el Tribunal Constitucional de España y boicoteado por quienes se oponían a la independencia—, hundió a España en su crisis política más severa desde la muerte del general Francisco Franco en 1975.…  Seguir leyendo »

Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Getty Images El Valle de los Caídos, the war memorial and mausoleum of General Franco built, in part, by Republican prisoners in the mountains near Madrid, Spain, 1976

Few dictators have enjoyed the reverential afterlife of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain with an iron fist from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until his death in 1975. Franco’s resting place, El Valle de los Caídos (or the Valley of the Fallen), on the outskirts of Madrid, is Spain’s grandest public monument, completed in 1959 to mark the twentieth anniversary of the end of the civil war. It features the world’s tallest memorial cross and an underground basilica consecrated by Pope John XXIII in 1960, which is one of the largest in all Christendom. A grand esplanade offers a view of the majestic Sierra de Guadarrama mountains.…  Seguir leyendo »

El drama entre el gobierno español en Madrid y el gobierno proindependentista en Cataluña, que ha ido escalando en tensión en particular desde el viernes, cuando las autoridades separatistas catalanas declararon la independencia, ha incluido a dos personajes que les resultan familiares a los estudiantes de política española: el mártir y el dictador.

Carles Puigdemont, quien hasta el viernes era el presidente del gobierno catalán, se ha autoasignado el papel del mártir. En las semanas que siguieron al referendo del 1 de octubre, en el que cerca del 90 por ciento de los catalanes que votaron eligieron la independencia, Puigdemont ha representado el papel de la víctima de la malvada administración madrileña.…  Seguir leyendo »

President Carles Puigdemont of Catalonia before a speech at the regional parliament on Friday. Credit David Ramos/Getty Images

The drama between the Spanish government in Madrid and the pro-independence government in Catalonia, which reached a new stage of tension Friday when the separatist government in Barcelona declared independence, has featured two characters familiar to students of Spanish politics: the martyr and the strongman.

Carles Puigdemont, who was until Friday the Catalan government’s president, has suggestively cast himself in the role of the martyr. In the weeks since the Oct. 1 referendum, in which some 90 percent of voters chose independence, Mr. Puigdemont has portrayed himself as the victim of a villainous Madrid administration. Never mind that the referendum was unconstitutional and that only 41.5 percent of those eligible to vote bothered to do so.…  Seguir leyendo »

When King Juan Carlos abdicated the Spanish throne earlier this week, Spaniards were caught off-guard. As recently as April, Juan Carlos, who is one of the modern era’s most successful monarchs -- he assumed the throne in 1975 following the death of General Francisco Franco and is widely considered to be the father of Spanish democracy for having orchestrated a widely-praised democratic transition that became a model for many other countries -- was shutting down rumors that his transfer of some responsibilities to his son, 46-year-old Prince Felipe, was a sign that he might step down. “Abdication is not an option,” said a royal spokesman at the time.…  Seguir leyendo »