It was the result Spain’s Socialist bigwigs had feared: a resounding victory for Pedro Sánchez in their party’s primary on Sunday, beating Andalusia premier Susana Díaz and former Basque premier Patxi López, to become leader for a second time.
Articles by Guy Hedgecoe
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It makes for a good headline: “Spanish parties vote to exhume dictator Franco”. Apart from the implied drama of digging up a feared former ruler, those words suggest that there is now a consensus regarding the country’s historical memory and a willingness to act on it.
The gathering of endorsement signatures by candidates ahead of the leadership contest of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) is not usually seen as overly significant. The numbers are a vague indicator, no more, of the support a particular candidate can expect in the final vote by party activists. But this time, ahead of the PSOE’s May 21 primary, it’s different.
Whatever you think of Mariano Rajoy, you can’t deny his ability to dig in. When in opposition, as leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), he survived two general election losses, as well as thwarting mutinies within his own ranks; as prime minister since 2011 he has ridden through economic near-meltdown, the threat of new parties Podemos and Ciudadanos and a torrent of corruption scandals.
Guy Hedgecoe | When it was announced last month that Basque terrorist group ETA was planning to disarm by April 8th, a couple of editors working for foreign media rang me to ask the same thing: How important is this? It was a fair question. There are two very different perspectives on the separatist organisation’s decision to give up its weapons via a team of international intermediaries in the south of France on Saturday.
Morocco has two powerful cards when it comes to dealing with the EU and particularly Spain: anti-terror cooperation and controlling migration. Sure enough, it appeared to start using the latter a few days after the Moroccan minister of agriculture, Aziz Akhannouch, wondered aloud why “Europe doesn’t want to work with us” in helping the country control its borders.
It’s not easy to find a dyed-in-the-wool Eurosceptic in Spain. There’s a simple explanation for that: since joining the European Union in 1986, the country has benefitted substantially and tangibly from bloc funding.
Of all the problems thrown up by Brexit, one of most emotionally charged is the impact it will have on foreigners living in the UK and British citizens living abroad. The other evening in Madrid at a forum on the implications of Brexit, I got a glimpse of the strength of feeling that it generates among the British community in Spain (estimated at around 300,000) and the Spanish community in the UK believed to be around 200,000.
If one specific scandal crystalized the Spanish elite’s excesses of recent times, it’s that of former president of Bankia Rodrigo Rato going on trial for misappropriation of funds in the High Court. Punishing Rato and others responsible for such injustices is crucial from a legal and moral point of view. But when it comes to restoring credibility, it is Spain’s banks, not the justice system, that face the really hard work.
In Madrid, much of the media and most commentators, -not to mention the big national parties — tend to be bewildered, if not outraged, by the secessionist drive. When in Catalonia (or at least speaking to independentistas), I find that the opposite is true: disenchantment with and disdain for the Spanish state is almost a given and the word “independence” tossed around as if it were a football.