The 10-year primary school is free of charge and compulsory for all children from 6 to 16 years. The state also offers free preschool for children up to the age of 6. About a third of all students attend private schools, which are often run by the Catholic Church. About a tenth of the state budget goes to education.
The first stage of compulsory school covers six years and is followed by a higher stage of four years leading to a basic degree. Thereafter, students who wish to continue studying may choose between a two-year theoretical university preparatory course or a one- to two-year vocational education. There is also a two-year special line with cultural or sports orientation. The academic year 2012–2013 was attended by virtually all children in preschool and elementary school; 96 percent of the children went to high school, slightly more girls than boys.
- COUNTRYAAH: Country facts of Spain, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
The right-wing government gave religious knowledge a more central place in the school, but the social government that took office in 2004 overturned the decision to make religious education compulsory in the state schools. In 2008, instead, the new school subject introduced citizenship that addresses issues of ethics and morals. This led to major protests among conservatives around the country.
In autonomous provinces, such as the Basque Country and Catalonia, with other official languages besides Spanish, teaching in these languages is compulsory throughout all school stages. However, the teaching of other subjects can take place either in the regional languages or in Spanish.
Spain has some of Europe’s oldest universities; it was founded in Salamanca in 1218. Several private universities are affiliated with the Catholic Church. The country’s 81 universities had approximately 1.9 million students in 2012-2013.
- Educationvv: Provides school and education information in Spain, covering middle school, high school and college education.
FACTS – EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary school
98.5 percent (2016)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary school
Reading and writing skills
98.3 percent (2016)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP
9.8 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on education as a percentage of the state budget
9.8 percent (2015)
Ready to vote on Sánchez in January
It is now clear that the Spanish parliament’s House of Representatives, the Chamber of Deputies, will vote on Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez’s renewed confidence as prime minister on January 5. Then he is required to get an absolute majority, that is to say support of at least 176 of the Chamber’s 350 members to be elected. If he does not get it, a second vote will be held on January 7, when he just needs to get more yes votes than no votes. The Catalan left-wing party, ERC, which has 13 seats, has announced a meeting on January 2 to decide whether to cast its votes in the second round of voting to release Sánchez.
Prosecutor: Junqueras should take his place in the European Parliament
Spain’s state prosecutor recommends that Oriol Junqueras, leader of the Catalan left-wing ERC, be released. Junqueras, who was sentenced in October to 13 years in prison for his role in the 2017 Catalan independence referendum, was elected earlier this year to the European Parliament and should therefore be allowed to leave the prison to take his place there (see also December 19, 2019).
Puigdemont can take his place in the European Parliament
Two independent Catalan politicians in exile, former Catalonia regional president Carles Puigdemont and his health minister Toni Comin, may take their seats in the European Parliament following a ruling in the European Court of Justice. Both were elected in the WU Parliament in May, but were not allowed, according to Spanish rules, because they did not attend a ceremony in Madrid. According to the European Court of Justice, they would be entitled to immunity from prosecution from the time they were elected to the European Parliament.
The regional president of Catalonia is brought to court
Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra is being sued in the High Court of Catalonia for not following an order from the Spanish Electoral Council to remove separatist symbols from public buildings in Catalonia. The court forbids him to hold any public office for 18 months, he must also pay the costs and 30,000 euros in fines. However, Torra can remain as regional president until the Spanish Supreme Court has taken a position on his appeal against the verdict.
EU Court: Junqueras should be granted immunity from prosecution
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) states that Oriol Junqueras, who was elected to the European Parliament in May in connection with it, should have been granted immunity from prosecution, despite being charged for, among other things, in connection with a referendum on Catalan independence in autumn 2018 (see October 2018). Instead, Junqueras, who leads the Catalan leftist ERC, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison (see October 14, 2019). Under Spanish law, all members elected to the European Parliament must swear an oath of allegiance to Spain’s constitution, which Junqueras could not do when he was in prison.
Catalan protests in connection with El Clásico
A football match between Barcelona FC and Real Madrid (El Clásico) that had to be canceled due to unrest in Catalonia in October is now being played. Security has been strengthened before the match when the Tsunami Democràtic organization called for protests. Inside the football stadium, Catalan spectators hold up banners urging the Spanish government to sit down and talk to Catalan separatist leaders. Outside the stadium, thousands of people are gathering and shouting slogans for “independence” and for all “political prisoners to be released”. They set up barricades, which are then torn down by the police. At least twelve people are injured in the riot that ensues.
Sánchez gets commissioned to try to form government
Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the Socialist Party PSOE, has been commissioned by King Felipe VI to try to establish a new Spanish government. He already has a deal done with the left-wing Unidas Podemos, but needs further support to reach a majority in Congress, the lower house of parliament. Sánchez says that from Monday he will start a dialogue with the leaders of the bourgeois parties People’s Party (PP) and Ciudadanos, and then the leaders of several regional parties to try to find a settlement. Most, however, suggest that it will take several weeks for Congress to vote on a proposal for a new government.
More migrants are trying to reach the Canary Islands
At least 62 migrants drown off the coast of Mauritania as they try to reach the Canary Islands by boat. However, some 80 people manage to swim ashore after the boat hit a cliff in the sea and started to take in water. Most of the people on board are Gambians. The following days, more than 350 migrants are rescued at sea by, among others, the Spanish Coast Guard. It is about several different boats in different places. More and more people are now trying to get to Europe via the Canary Islands. Since August, about 400 migrants have arrived there a month. Moroccan authorities have been acting to stop the migrant flow into Spain from northern Morocco. So far this year, 158 migrants are believed to have died on their way to the Canary Islands.
Vox blocks declaration against violence against women
The right-wing populist Vox refuses to sign a declaration in which Spanish political assemblies from the municipal and regional level distance themselves from violence against women. From 2004 until now, all Spanish parties have signed such a year in conjunction with Spain celebrating the UN International Day Against Violence Against Women on November 25. Vox leaders justify the decision that “violence has no gender”. It is the regional councils in Madrid, Valencia, Castille and León that have chosen to stand outside as well as municipal parishes in Córdoba, Seville, Granada and Jaén. The bourgeois Ciudadanos, who in many places control with Vox, criticizes the decision. Since 2003, more than 1,000 women have been killed in Spain by their partner or former partner, of whom 59 are only in 2019.
The ERC calls for a dialogue on independence to support Sánchez
The Catalan left-wing ERC votes to support Pedro Sánchez’s Socialist government in exchange for talks on independence. The question, however, is how far Sánchez is prepared to go to create a new government in Madrid.
Prison sentences against PSOE politicians in Andalusia
19 people, of whom two former high ranking politicians from the Socialist Party (PSOE) in Andalusia are convicted by a Seville provincial court for having committed corruption between 2000 and 2009. Nine of them are sentenced to prison for between six and seven years. Among other things, they have spent € 640 million from a labor market fund. The money in the so-called ERE scandal, has gone to companies and individuals who were close to PSOE. Two persons are acquitted by the court. José Antonio Griñán, who was Andalusia’s head of government between 2009 and 2013, is now sentenced to six years in prison and banned from holding public office for 15 years, his representative Manuel Chaves is also banned from politics for nine years. 120 witnesses have been heard since the trial began in 2011. This is one of the biggest corruption scandals in Spain,December 2018). The People’s Party (PP), which lost power in Spain 2018 after the PSOE issued a declaration of mistrust of them following a corruption scandal, is now urging Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchéz to show that he is serious about his take on hard-fought corruption. Similar noises are heard from the bourgeois Ciudadanos. Several left-wing politicians urge PSOE to repay the lost money. Unlike the so-called Gürtel deal that hit PP (see May 2018), no money has gone to PSOE’s party fund and no money laundering has taken place either.
Former General from Venezuela may be extradited
Spain now agrees to extradite Hugo Carvajal, former head of Venezuela’s military intelligence service, to the US, where he is suspected of drug smuggling (see also September 2019). The decision is made by the Special Court Audiencia Nacional. However, Spanish police do not know where Carvajal is.
Catalan activists block highway
Kravall police are deployed against Catalan activists from the independence camp blocking the freeway near La Jonquera, a very busy border crossing between Spain and France. At least 19 people are arrested. Behind the campaign, which is scheduled to last for three days, stands a group called the Tsunami Democràtic. The action started the day before and traffic on the road was completely silent for 24 hours. Later, activists move their campaign to a location about five kilometers further south. And then to a place near Girona.
PSOE and Unidas Podemos agree on government cooperation
The Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos now agree to form a coalition government. The message comes just days after the election and surprises analysts as the two parties have not been able to agree on a similar collaboration after the April elections. Since then, both parties have lost a mandate in Congress. They now need to win the support of several smaller parties in order to reach a majority in Congress (Parliament’s lower house). The bourgeois Ciudadanos is already marking that it does not intend to support such a government. The Catalan left-wing party ERC also says it does not intend to give its support to the coalition, but points out that the decision may change. However, a spokeswoman for ERC stressed that PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez and Podemo’s leader Pablo Iglesias must now start a dialogue with the independence parties in Catalonia.
Rivera resigns as leader of Ciudadanos
Albert Rivera resigns as leader of Ciudadanos after the party’s disastrous results in the November 10 parliamentary elections. The party then lost 47 of the 57 seats it won in the elections in April. Rivera also announces that he will leave the Congress (Parliament’s lower house). Inés Arrimadas, who leads the party’s Catalan branch, is mentioned as a likely successor to the party leader post.
The Socialist Party wins the election, while the right is strengthened
The Spanish new election does not make it easier to form a sustainable government in Spain, since neither the left nor the right parties reach their own majority. The situation is even more complicated than after the April election. Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he wants to try to form a progressive government. His party, the Socialist Party (PSOE), becomes the largest party in Congress (the second chamber of the Spanish Parliament), with 28 percent of the vote and 120 of the 350 seats in Congress, which is, however, three fewer than in the April election. The Conservative People’s Party (PP) will again be the second largest party, receiving just under 21 percent of the vote and 89 seats, 23 more than in April. However, the big winner of the election will be the right-wing populist Vox, who will be Spain’s third largest party with 15 percent of the vote and 52 seats, 28 more than in April when the party entered Congress for the first time. At the same time, the left alliance backs Unidas Podemos, which now gets just under 13 percent of the vote and 35 seats, and the bourgeois Ciudadanos, which stays at just under 7 percent and 10 seats. The Catalan parties ERC, JxCAT-JUNTS and Cup win 13 and 8 and 2 places respectively, Basque PNV and EH Bildu get 6 and 5 seats respectively, while the left party Más País receives 3 seats. The turnout is just under 70 percent. Vox receives congratulations to right-wing populist leaders from other European countries, including Marine Le Pen in France. Matteo Salvini in Italy and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. and the bourgeois Ciudadanos, which stays at just under 7 percent and 10 places. The Catalan parties ERC, JxCAT-JUNTS and Cup win 13 and 8 and 2 places respectively, Basque PNV and EH Bildu get 6 and 5 seats respectively, while the left party Más País receives 3 seats. The turnout is just under 70 percent. Vox receives congratulations to right-wing populist leaders from other European countries, including Marine Le Pen in France. Matteo Salvini in Italy and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. and the bourgeois Ciudadanos, which stays at just under 7 percent and 10 places. The Catalan parties ERC, JxCAT-JUNTS and Cup win 13 and 8 and 2 places respectively, Basque PNV and EH Bildu get 6 and 5 seats respectively, while the left party Más País receives 3 seats. The turnout is just under 70 percent. Vox receives congratulations to right-wing populist leaders from other European countries, including Marine Le Pen in France. Matteo Salvini in Italy and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. Vox receives congratulations to right-wing populist leaders from other European countries, including Marine Le Pen in France. Matteo Salvini in Italy and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. Vox receives congratulations to right-wing populist leaders from other European countries, including Marine Le Pen in France. Matteo Salvini in Italy and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.Here you can see how the Spanish have voted in the election.
Arrest warrants issued for Catalan ex-minister
A European arrest warrant for Clara Ponsatí, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Catalan Regional Government, who organized the independence referendum for Catalonia 2017 (see October 2017). Ponsatí, who now teaches at St Andrews University in the UK, says she will do everything she can to avoid being extradited to Spain. Similar arrest warrants are now also issued for Toni Comín and Lluís Puig, who also sat in the Catalan government and are now in Belgium.
Tough hold on Catalonia is promised in election debate
Before King Felipe VI’s visit to Catalonia, protesters protest by lighting fires on several large streets where some of them burn pictures of the king while shouting that “Catalonia has no king”. At the same time, the tone is raised against Catalonia in a televised election debate between the leaders of the five largest parties. Pedro Sánchez, the leader of the Socialist Party, promises to tighten the legislation so that it is considered a serious crime to hold a non-sanctioned referendum on independence. He also made certain excuses to appease leftist voters, such that it would be punishable to pay tribute to fascism, and that the foundation that should be the former dictator Fransisco Franco’s name should be closed. Pablo Casado, of the Conservative People’s Party (PP), also promises tougher deals against separatists, while right-wing populist Vox leader Santiago Abascal demands that Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra be arrested and all the separatist party banned. An exception was Unidas Podemo’s leader Pablo Iglesias, who emphasized that Spain is a country of several nations and that the only way to solve the Catalonia crisis is through dialogue.
The UN Climate Conference is relocated to Madrid
The UN Climate Conference, COP25, which would have been held in Chile is now being moved to Madrid, Spain, and will thus be held on the same date as planned December 2-13. At the end of October, when the Spanish government offered to organize the conference, it made a statement about how important it is for the UN to agree on multilateral measures to combat climate change. Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera decided on October 26 to postpone the meeting because of unrest in the country.
Sánchez excludes government cooperation with the PP
Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and acting prime minister, excludes all thoughts of a government collaboration with the arch-rival Folk Party (PP). According to media reports, sources within PP should have been able to imagine this. At the same time, opinion polls indicate that none of the blocs will be able to gain a majority after this election either. The PSOE still looks to be the biggest party, but will, according to the latest opinion polls, lose some mandate. PSOE’s possible support party Unidas Podemos looks to back even more. However, the Left Party Más País (More for the Country), formed by Íñigo Errejón one of Podemo’s founders, looks set to enter the congress. The PP is believed to win a number of new mandates, but the election seems to be an even greater success for the right-wing populist Vox, probably at the expense of Ciudadanos.
Puigdemont in Belgian court
A Belgian court will decide whether to extradite former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont to Spain who issued a European arrest warrant earlier this October. Puigdemont left Spain in the fall of 2017, after an unsuccessful attempt to achieve independence for Catalonia (see October 2017) says he will do everything he can to avoid extradition. The court will not hear the parties again until December 16. Carmen Calvo, Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister, says in a radio interview that she can see no reason why Belgium would oppose extradition.
The independence movement continues to protest in Barcelona
350,000 people gather for a peaceful protest in Barcelona, organized by the grassroots movements of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Omnium Cultural, respectively, to demand that the separatist leaders who were sentenced to long prison sentences earlier this month be released. Later in the evening, unrest erupts as a few thousand protesters encircle the national police headquarters to protest the violence the police had previously directed against protesters. The police intervene to disperse the protesters as they start throwing stones, bottles and more. The protest had been organized by the Catalan grassroots organization the Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR). To date, over 600 civilians and police have been injured in connection with protests. The violence that has taken place has struck the independence movement and sharpened Madrid’s attitude towards Barcelona.
At least 80,000 in demonstration for Spanish unity
About 80,000 people gather in Barcelona to demonstrate for Spanish unity (according to the organizers, they are many times more, 400,000). The demonstration, which is organized by the organization Societat Civil Catalana, follows a time-long demonstration with the demand for independence for Catalonia. According to opinion polls, Catalonia’s residents are divided on the issue, where about 44 percent support Catalan independence, while just over 48 percent oppose it.
Franco’s remnants are moved
Former dictator Francisco Franco remains now excavated and relocated from El Valle de los Caidos (The Valley of the Fallen), a mausoleum about five miles north of Madrid, and buried again four hours later at the El Pardo cemetery in Mingorrubio, north of Madrid. 22 of Franco’s relatives, who opposed a move, attended the ceremony. Outside the cemetery, about 200 people have gathered, shouting “long live Franco”. At the same time, relatives of Franco-era victims went out into the streets of Madrid to celebrate what has happened. Opinion polls indicate that the Spaniards are divided on the issue, 43 percent say they are positive about the move, 32 percent have opposed it, while the others have no definite opinion. In El Valle de los Caidos, another 34,000 people are buried, victims from both sides in the Spanish Civil War of 1936 to 1939, which in total required about half a million people’s lives.
Quim Torra wants “unconditional” dialogue
Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra says he wants to have an “unconditional” dialogue with the Spanish government, discussions that would not preclude a referendum on Catalan independence. He also commends the many major manifestations that the independence movement has carried out since nine separatist leaders were sentenced to long prison sentences earlier in October, but also condemns the violence that occurred. He also requests a parliamentary inquiry into the violence that the regional police have directed against protesters. However, the likelihood that the acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez will meet Torra is considered almost nonexistent. The day before, Catalonia’s three independence parties have made a joint statement rejecting the Supreme Court’s judgments they call unjust and undemocratic.
The elections are not meant to break the deadlock in Spanish politics
There is much evidence that the upcoming parliamentary elections on November 10 will not be able to break the deadlock in Spanish politics. Opinion polls suggest that the Socialist Party (PSOE) will be the largest party, but the party is now losing ground to the Conservative People’s Party, which however does not appear to catch up. This can largely be explained by the criticism leveled at Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for how he handled the ongoing crisis in Catalonia. It is also not certain that the bourgeois Ciudadanos can retain the position as Spain’s third largest party. However, PSOE’s possible partner Unidas Podemos looks set to back down, while right-wing populist Vox looks set to move forward. This, too, is probably a consequence of what is now happening in Catalonia.
Sánchez in Barcelona
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez makes an unexpected visit to Barcelona, where the tranquility has now returned after a week of violence. He meets police chiefs and visits injured police in a hospital, but has no meeting with regional president Quim Torra. Sánchez, who has urged Torra to condemn the violence, warns that the crisis is not over.
Ongoing protests in Catalonia
Extensive protests continue after the prison sentences at the beginning of the week against nine separatist leaders. More than half a million people take part in a peaceful demonstration in Barcelona, but in the evening violence again erupts. Cars and barricades are burning, protesters throw stones and the police use tear gas and rubber-coated bullets. Nearly 600 people are reported to have been injured in the unrest. Flights to Barcelona have been canceled and a football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid has been postponed. Authorities have blocked websites and social media for the independence-striking group Tsunami Democràtic, whose leaders are unknown.
Violent protests in Barcelona following prison sentences
In Catalonia, protests continue against the harsh prison sentences for several leaders in the independence movement. In Barcelona, the protests lead to clashes between protesters and the police, both the regional force Mossos d’Esquadra and national police. Police fire tear gas at a group of protesters trying to get into government buildings. Some of the protesters throw stones and others at the police and light fires in trash cans. A man loses an eye in connection with the unrest, probably after being hit by a rubber or foam ball fired by police. The Spanish government condemns the violence and calls for calm. A spokesman for the Catalan government says that most of the protests are peaceful and that only isolated groups resort to violence. At the same time, she condemned all acts of violence.
Long prison sentence for Catalan separatist leaders
The Supreme Court sentenced nine Catalan separatist leaders to nine to 13 years in prison for their role in the Catalonia independence referendum held in the region in the fall of 2017 (see October 2017). However, none of the nine are convicted of the gravest indictment (rebellion). The longest sentence, 13 years, gets Oriol Junqueras, leader of the Catalan left-wing party ERC and former Catalan vice president, for rioting and misuse of public funds. He is also prohibited from being politically active for another 13 years. Former Catalan ministers Raül Romeva, Jordi Turull and Dolors Bassa are sentenced to the same crime as Junqueras to 12 years in prison, and the ban on holding a political office for the same amount of time. Josep Rull and Joaquim Forn are punished only for incarceration and sentenced to 10.5 years in prison, while former President Carme Forcadell is sentenced to 11.5 years in prison. Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, from the grassroots organizations ANC and Òmnium Cultural, are both given 9 years in prison and a prohibition to take public office during the same period. Three others, Santiago Vila, Meritxell Borràs and Carles Mundó, are sentenced to “disobedience” and fined € 200 a day for 10 months, but they avoid jail. Nor are they allowed to hold any political assignments for one year and ten months. The defense says it intends to appeal the judgments to the Constitutional Court and to the European Court of Human Rights. Separatist leaders say they are condemned for their political “ideas”, while prosecutors claim they are being convicted of their “actions”. Later in the day, the Supreme Court issues a new European arrest warrant for former regional president Carles Puigdemont, who is in exile in Belgium. Catalonia’s regional president Quim Torra calls for the separatists leaders to be granted amnesty, and asks for a meeting with King Felipe VI and acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. The latter, however, dismisses any talk of an amnesty. The Independence Camp has threatened a long line of protests, to be organized by a group called the Tsunami Democratic. Already in the afternoon, several roads in the region are blocked by Catalans protesting the prison sentences. In Barcelona, protesters gather outside the courthouse and the Catalan Football Federation sets up all the matches of the day to show their dissatisfaction with the referees.
Ciudadanos goes towards the center before the election
Ahead of the next parliamentary elections on November 10, the Ciudadanos bourgeois party is taking a step towards the center, after making a right-hand turn in the elections in April (see April 2019). Party leader Albert Rivera now signals that he can envisage a collaboration with the Socialist Party (PSOE) by removing the veto he introduced against this in February 2019. But only if the right parties cannot form their own majority government. At the same time, Rivera announces a series of reforms that he wants to implement, among other things, with the aim of increasing low birth rates, such as lower taxes for families. But it is also about better education and care as well as measures to stop rural depopulation. Pablo Casado, the leader of the Conservative People’s Party (PP), is also lowering the tone, after, among other things, accusing PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez of incompetence and lies. Instead, he is pushing for measures to boost the economy ahead of a looming crisis. PP has wanted to form a valalliance, España Suma,
132,000 Sephardic Jews apply for Spanish citizenship
Spain has so far received over 132,000 applications for Spanish citizenship from Jews residing outside the country whose ancestors were forced to leave Spain in 1492. Most of the applications come from various Latin American countries (primarily Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia). It follows a new law passed in 2015 to atone “a historic mistake” when Jews who did not convert to Christianity were expelled. To date, some 6,000 people have been granted Spanish citizenship, following a lengthy and complicated process, where they must be able to prove that they have Sephardic roots, be able to speak Spanish and have knowledge of Spain’s culture and social life. About 70,000 applications were submitted in the last month. The deadline for applying expires today.
New selection list topped by Errejón
Íñigo Errejón, who left Podemos at the beginning of the year, announces that he will run for a new party list, More for the Country (Más País), in the November parliamentary elections. Errejón tops the list, but most of the other names are women. He hopes to fill the gap between the Socialist Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos, further on the left.
Bankruptcy of British travel company hits Spain’s tourism industry
British travel company Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy risks hitting the Spanish tourism industry hard. The company is one of the five largest hotel owners in Spain, with approximately 2,500 employees, and had three companies that flew in Spain. The bankruptcy seems to hit extra hard against the archipelago of the Balearic Islands (including Mallorca and Ibiza), where around one million Thomas Cook travelers make up 15 percent of all travelers, and the Canary Islands where the corresponding figure is 25 percent. At the same time, the low-cost carrier Ryanair has decided to terminate its flights to Tenerife. It is estimated that Thomas Cook has liabilities to the Spanish tourism sector of the equivalent of EUR 200 million.
Clear sign from HD to move Franco’s remnants
The Spanish government can relocate the remains of the former dictator Franco, from the mausoleum of El Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) to the El Pardo cemetery in Mingorrubio, north of Madrid. The Court agrees with the decision. It therefore rejects an appeal from Franco’s relatives who wanted his remains to be left where they are or moved to La Almudena Cathedral in Madrid (see also March and June 2019). The family has another opportunity to appeal the decision, to the Constitutional Court. Criticism against the decision came from the right-wing populist party Vox, but also from the bourgeois Ciudadanos, who accused acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of using the issue to divide Spain into a matter that no longer engages many Spaniards. After the transition to democracy, there was no great settlement of what happened during the civil war of 1936 to 1939 and the subsequent Franco dictatorship. The former Conservative government under Mariano Rajoy chose not to address the issue of moving Franco’s remnants. It was not until 2018 that Madrid decided to rename some 50 streets named after people connected to Franco’s regime.
Seven detainees are accused of planning acts of violence in Catalonia
Seven activists of the ERT, a faction of the Catalan grassroots organization Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR), are arrested accused of planning acts of violence in Catalonia in connection with the anniversary of the referendum held on October 1, 2017 (see October 2017). They are suspected, among other things, of membership in a terrorist organization and of possession of explosives. None of them are granted bail. The arrests are criticized by some independent politicians. Tensions are also becoming apparent in the regional parliament, when a session is adjourned on September 25 when some separatist politicians bail out of the House crying for freedom. Previously, two non-binding resolutions were adopted and that police from the Civil Guard should leave the region and that the politicians arrested for their role in it should be granted amnesty. On Saturday, the same week, about 12,000 people in the Catalan city of Sabadell demonstrated under the slogan “Freedom. The repression will not stop us” to demand that the arrested be released.
Big protests against women violence
Around Spain, large demonstrations are being held to protest violence against women and to do more to stop the violence. The demonstration was announced following several notable rape cases and cases where women have been killed by their partners or former partners. To date, 42 women have been murdered since the beginning of 2019, including 19 during the summer, according to official statistics. This is happening despite legislation being tightened to curb violence against women. In Madrid, the right-wing populist party voices a stir as the party’s general secretary Ortega Smith, along with local party representatives, refuses to respect the silent minute proclaimed by the municipal government in the capital to honor a 31-year-old woman murdered by her partner in front of their common children. Smith thus ends up in a dispute with Madrid’s mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida from the Conservative PP, who came to power in June with the support of the bourgeois Ciudadanos and Vox.
Spain refuses to extradite the former general to the United States
Spain does not agree to extradite Hugo Carvajal, the former head of Venezuela’s military intelligence service, to the United States, where he is wanted for drug smuggling. The United States accuses him of helping the Colombian Farc guerrilla smuggle cocaine. Carvajal turned against the Venezuelan Maduro regime in February and fled to Spain in April, when he was also arrested. The Spanish court refers, among other things, to a lack of concrete evidence against Carvajal, and that as a general he followed orders from above. People suspected of “military crimes” are not extradited from Spain. The court also decides to release him.
New elections in Spain in November
All attempts to get a new government in Madrid have failed. This means that there will be a new election in Spain on November 10. It will be the fourth parliamentary election in Spain in four years. Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the Socialist Party (PSOE) blames the opposition for the failure. Unidas Podemos, who had wanted to form a coalition government with the PSOE, instead says that it is Sánchez who is to blame.
New attempts are being made to resolve the political crisis
The political game to get a new Spanish government continues. King Felipe VI has called on the four major Spanish parties, the Socialist Party (PSOE), the Conservative People’s Party (PP), the bourgeois Ciudadanos and the Left Party Unidas Podemos, to find a solution before the deadline expires on September 23. If the parties cannot agree until then, it will be re-elected on November 10. Some smaller openings are visible. Ciudadano’s leader Albert Rivera says he is prepared to put forward a Socialist Party government led by Pedro Sánchez on the condition that it will not raise taxes, that it will take over the rule of Catalonia if the Catalan government opposes the judgments against separatist leaders expected later in September and that the PSOE does not make any pact with the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV).
At least six are killed in severe storms in eastern Spain
Eastern Spain is hit by the worst storm in 140 years. Rainfall causes severe flooding as dams to the major rivers burst. At least six people are killed, 300,000 hectares of agricultural land are submerged and thousands of people are forced to leave their homes. The military is deployed to assist those affected.
600,000 marks support for Catalan independence
Around 600,000 people gather in Barcelona to celebrate the region’s “national day” (la Diada) and show their support for Catalan independence. It is one of the lowest attendance figures in the eight years that “National Day” has been celebrated. Usually, La Diada usually gathers up to one million participants. Today’s march is largely peaceful, but in the vicinity of the Catalan Parliament, a few hundred protesters clash with the police.
The refugee stream to Spain is declining
The flow of refugees and asylum seekers coming to Spain by sea has decreased significantly so far in 2019. During the first eight months of the year, almost 16,000 arrived, which is a decrease of 45 percent compared with the same period in 2018. The reason for this is to a large extent that Moroccan authorities prevented the boats from going to Spain. This is done, for example, after Morocco and the EU agreed on a new fisheries agreement and Spain promised to give Morocco € 32 million to fight illegal migration.
Continued economic growth
Despite the political problems, the Spanish economy continues to grow, reports the Financial Times. But in the past year, growth is not primarily due to increased exports, but to the fact that Spanish households spend more money than before, thanks in large part to the minimum wage being raised by over a fifth. According to forecasts, the economy is expected to grow by up to two percent in 2019, which is about twice as much as in other euro area countries. But even Spain is now beginning to feel the uncertainty that has followed in the wake of the US-Chinese trade conflict, the bay seems to strike against the Spanish automotive industry.
Sánchez reaches out to Unidas Podemos
Spain’s acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez presents 370 new proposals, including free childcare, a new minimum wage aimed at reducing child poverty and more money for health care, in an attempt to bridge the gap to Unidas Podemos and get a new Spanish government. To get there, he needs support from both Unidas Podemos and several smaller parties, which he did not succeed in the two votes held in July (see July 2019). In order to win Unidas Podemo’s support, he now promises several important positions within the state administration, but he is still not prepared to form a coalition government with the left party, which has been one of its demands. However, Unidas Podemos does not seem to be willing to support Sánchez unless they are allowed to join the government. The PSOE leader must get a new government before September 23, otherwise elections will be held on November 10. However, an opinion poll suggests that it would not change much, even though both the PSOE and the conservative PP appear to be winning new votes, while the smaller parties appear to be losing voter support.
Unemployed negotiations, risk of re-election
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez loses – for the second time in a week – a vote in Parliament, after the negotiations for a government cooperation between his party PSOE and the left-wing Alliance Unidas Podemos collapse. The two blocks together have 167 of 350 seats. Several small parties have made it clear that they would not stand in the way of a government between them, but neither voters nor politicians in Spain are used to coalition governments and the PSOE has not accepted Podemo’s demands. Sánchez now has two months to try and find a solution, but the alternative – another new election, in November – seems to be moving closer. A possible coalition government would be the first in Spain after the dictatorship.
Sánchez: “Conversation with Unidas Podemos has failed”
The talks between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos have failed according to the acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. He claims that Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias has decided to leave the talks. Unidas Podemos wants to rule with the PSOE in a coalition government, which Sánchez has refused. However, he has made some concessions and offered Unidas Podemos a few lower positions within the government, something he says Iglesias said no to. Unidas Podemos, for its part, accuses Sánchez of running a media campaign to blame other parties for the political stalemate in Spain. Sánchez’s hope now seems to be that the People’s Party (PP), Ciudadanos and Unidas Podemos will cast their votes this coming week when Congress will vote if he is allowed to continue as prime minister.
Legal process begins against Catalonia’s regional president
Quim Torra, Catalonia’s regional president, will face trial for disobedience because of his refusal to remove pro-separatist symbols from government buildings ahead of the municipal and EU elections in May. It notifies the higher court in Catalonia, the TSCJ, but does not specify when such a legal process will be held. The decision may be appealed. Prosecutors have, among other things, requested that he be banned from holding any public office for one year and eight months.
Locked position in the negotiations between PSOE and Unidas Podemos
Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez says he will not make another attempt to form a new government if he loses the two votes to be held later in July. According to Spanish press, no progress has been made in the negotiations between the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos (UP). The UP wants the parties to cooperate in a government coalition, while the PSOE wants to continue with a minority government. The PSOE also needs the support of several smaller parties to achieve the 176 mandates required for Sánchez to continue as Spanish prime minister. The risk is therefore considered high because the Spaniards will be able to go to the polls again this fall.
Judges reintroduce traffic-free zone in Madrid
The zone for reducing emissions from car traffic introduced in Madrid in November 2018 is abolished by the new Conservative Board. But after only a week, the zone is reintroduced, at least temporarily by a judge, citing emissions should not rise uncontrolled, as no new control system has been introduced. The decision to abolish the zone has also sparked protests among the Madridians. According to the Ecologists in Action environmental group, nitric oxide emissions have decreased by 48 percent since the zone was introduced. Anyone who drives into the zone without a permit may be charged € 90.
Congress will vote on Sánchez on July 23
On July 23, the Spanish congress will vote on whether Pedro Sánchez should take up a second term as prime minister. This was announced by President Meritxell Batet. If Sánchez does not receive the required 176 votes, a second vote will be held two days later. If no new prime minister has been appointed within two months of the first vote being held, a new election shall be announced.
HD tightens the penalty in the La Manada case
The Supreme Court tightens the penalty against five men who raped a young woman in Pamplona 2016 (see April and December 2018). The men are now convicted of rape and not “sexual abuse” as in lower courts. The penalty against men is also increased from nine years to 15 years. The case, if referred to as La Manada, has led Spain to initiate a review of the legislation regarding rape.
PP takes over the mayor’s post in Madrid
José Luis Martínez-Almeida of the Conservative People’s Party (PP) is elected new mayor of Madrid with the support of the bourgeois middle party Ciudadanos and the right-wing populist Vox. He thus replaces former Judge Manuela Carmena and her left-leaning citizen platform. PP and Ciudadanos will rule the Spanish capital together, while Vox will not belong to the formal regime. The program includes a review of the measures taken to reduce traffic and thus emissions in Madrid.
Ada Colau remains as mayor of Barcelona
Leftist politician Ada Colau is allowed to continue as mayor of Barcelona, despite the fact that her party alliance lost by a marginal margin in May. Instead, it was won by the ERC whose candidate Ernest Maragall could have become the first independence winner on the mayor’s post. Colau can remain after a deal with the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) and with the support of France’s former Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who was elected to the Barcelona City Council with the support of the Ciudadanos bourgeoisie and two other members of the same group (this leads to Ciudadanos breaking with Valls). Ciudadano’s other members cast their votes.
HD: Prosecuted ERC leader must not go to Brussels
The Supreme Court says no to Oriol Junqueras, from the Catalan left-wing ERC, to travel to Brussels to take his place in the European Parliament. The court emphasizes that the decision is not irrevocable, but is dependent on the outcome of the legal process in progress against the ERC leader and several other Catalan politicians.
Trial against Catalan separatist leaders about to end
The trial of twelve Catalan separatist leaders in the Supreme Court of Madrid is about to end (see also February 2019). Prosecutors maintain that nine of the twelve should be sentenced for “rebellion,” as they “tried to break the constitutional order to achieve independence” by force and have pleaded guilty to long prison sentences. In the case of ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, it is about 25 years. Other charges include the embezzlement of public funds and disobedience. The defense’s final pleadings allow the accused to show disobedience, but other charges are rejected. If the right goes on the defensive line, they can be banned from holding public office, but in that case they avoid prison sentences. Any judgments will be announced first this fall.
PSOE and Unidas Podemos negotiate ministerial posts
The Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos are taking another step towards possible government cooperation. It is still unclear if this is a formal governmental coalition, which raises strong opposition from parts of the PSOE. But according to the Spanish newspaper El País, negotiations are now awaiting who will receive which ministerial post.
Sánchez gets the king’s assignment to try to form government
King Felipe VI commissioned Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez to form a new government. Long negotiations are needed before a government is complete, as Sánchez must be supported in many different directions. His own party PSOE has only 123 of the 350 seats in Congress. It can be a difficult nut to crack. For example, the Green party Equo, with a mandate in Congress, is only willing to support Sánchez if the PSOE forms government with Unidas Podemos (UP). While the Canary Coalition (CC) does not intend to support the PSOE leader if he forms government with the UP. The situation is made even more difficult by the formations of government that are going on after the regional elections in May, as Sánchez may need support at national level from parties that the PSOE is trying to prevent from taking power at regional level.
HD says no to relocation of Franco’s remnants June 10
The Supreme Court says no to the former dictator Franco’s grave may be opened on June 10, so that he can relocate to another place. This is pending on a decision from Franco’s family to be decided (see March 15, 2019).
Ex-King Juan Carlos I is retiring
Former King Juan Carlos I now withdraws completely from all official missions. The ex-king, now 81, left after a series of scandals over his son Felipe’s throne in 2014. In 1981, just a few years after Spain reintroduced democracy, he succeeded in intercepting a military coup attempt.
ECHR: The Spanish Constitutional Court acted correctly
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) unanimously decides that Spanish judges in the Constitutional Court acted in accordance with the law when, in October 2017, it canceled a session in the Catalonia regional parliament where a unilateral declaration of independence was planned. The case is being tried by the ECHR on the initiative of a group of Catalan politicians who claim that the Constitutional Court thereby violated their freedom of expression and assembly.
Prosecuted Catalan politicians are suspended from Congress
Four Catalan politicians who are standing up for their role in the referendum on Catalonia’s independence were elected to the Spanish Congress in April. They may temporarily leave the prison for swearing allegiance to the Spanish Constitution in the Madrid Congress. After that, they are suspended from congressional work. The most knowledgeable of them Oriol Junqueras, leader of the Catalan Left Party ERC and former Vice President of Catalonia, has also won a seat in the European Parliament.
Success for PSOE in the regional and municipal elections, but PP wins in Madrid
The Socialist Party (PSOE) is doing well in the regional and municipal elections held on the same day as the EU elections. However, the Left is losing control of Madrid, where it looks like the Conservative People’s Party (PP) can take power, both in the city and the region, with the help of the bourgeois Ciudadanos and the right-wing populist Vox. The election loss in Madrid is partly explained by the fact that the left parties were divided into several groups and that Podemos makes a poor choice overall. The latter is considered to weaken Unidas Podemo’s position in any government negotiations with the PSOE at the national level. Íñigo Errejón, defender from Podemos, who now represents Más Madrid, makes a relatively good choice and his grouping becomes second largest in the regional parliament in Madrid. Vox generally makes a bad choice, but can still gain influence because the party has a wave manager role in several municipalities.
Catalan politicians are suspended from Congress
24th of May
The Spanish Parliament decides to shut down four Catalan members elected to Congress. The four are facing legal charges for crimes in connection with Catalonia’s Declaration of Independence in the fall of 2018.
The Socialist Party wins the EU election
The Socialist Party (PSOE) wins the EU elections in Spain by almost 33 percent of the vote, according to preliminary results, clearly ahead of the Conservative People’s Party (PP), which receives 20 percent and 12 seats. The PSOE thus increases from 13 seats to 20 in the European Parliament and thus becomes the largest party in the S&D (Progressive Alliance of Socialists) group in the European Parliament. The Ciudadanos bourgeoisie receives 12 percent of the vote and 7 seats, while the alliance of Unidas Podemos gets about 10 percent (7 seats) and the right-wing populist Vox gets 6 percent (3 seats). Also the ERC and Together for Catalonia (Junts per Catalunya) will join the European Parliament (ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, who is charged with rebellion and former Catalonia regional president Carles Puigdemont who is in self-elected exile in Belgium, but it is unclear if they can take their places). The turnout is 51 percent.
Former ETA leaders are arrested
Josu Ternera, former political leader of the Basque separatist movement ETA, is arrested in France. He has been wanted since the beginning of the 1990s. Spanish prosecutors suspect him of being involved in an attack in Zaragoza in 1987, in which eleven people, including five children, were killed. ETA closed the armed struggle for an independent Basque 2011, and the organization was dissolved in 2018.
HD provides the clear sign for Puigdemont to participate in the EU elections
The Supreme Court gives Catalonia’s former regional president Carles Puigdemont the go-ahead to stand in the European elections, despite being wanted for crime and exiled. In the past, Spanish electoral authorities have denied him and Toni Comin and Clara Ponsati, two other Catalan politicians in similar circumstances, to take part.
Spain risks diplomatic crisis in Venezuela
Spain risks being drawn into a diplomatic crisis with Venezuela, since Leopoldo López, former foreground figure of the Venezuelan opposition, was dismissed by soldiers in Caracas on April 30 and then, with his family, takes refuge in the Spanish embassy. The Spanish Foreign Ministry now says that it will not force López to leave the embassy building. Spain, along with several other EU countries, in February recognized current opposition leader Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president while still maintaining contacts with Nicolás Maduro’s government.
The Socialist Party is the biggest in the Spanish elections
The Socialist Party (PSOE) wins the Spanish congressional election with almost 29 percent of the vote, for the Conservative People’s Party (PP) receiving just under 17 percent, the bourgeois Ciudadanos (CS) of almost 16 percent and the left’s Unidas Podemos receiving just over 14 percent and the right-wing populist Vox that gets slightly over 10 percent. Just over 10 percent of the vote goes to several smaller parties, mainly from Catalonia and the Basque Country. The turnout is 75.8 percent, but it was even higher in Catalonia. The result means that none of the blocks gets their own majority. PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez faces a difficult task in getting a new government. The big loser of the election is PP, who makes his worst choice since the party was formed, but also Unidas Podemos backs, while Ciudadanos does well and Vox enters the congress for the first time. In the election to the Senate held at the same time, PSOE makes a good choice, reaching its own majority, while the PP backs big. Five of the Catalan politicians facing trial in Madrid win seats in Congress, including ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, whose party runs from nine to 15 seats, as well as Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Turull from Together for Catalonia.
Catalonia’s main issue in the first televised election debate
For the first time in Spain, a televised election debate is held between the four major parties. During the debate, the sharp gaps between the right and left blocs are exposed, not least in the case of Catalonia, where Albert Rivera of Ciudadano accuses Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of having blamed the Catalan independence wars through their support in the vote of no confidence against the People’s Party (PP), which led the Socialist Party (PSOE) to power last summer). Similar noises are heard from PP leader Pablo Casado, while PSOE leader Sánchez emphasizes that he will not agree to either a referendum on Catalan independence. He accuses PP and Ciudadanos of approaching the right-wing extremist Vox, who must not be included in the TV debate, since the party is not represented in Congress. Other disputes during the debate concern the economy, the high unemployment rate and all Spanish corruption scandals. Both Rivera and Sánchez exclude their parties from cooperating in any way after the election. However, several observers believe that Podemo’s leader Pablo Iglesias is the one who does his best in the debate. Otherwise, his party seems to be losing votes in the election. The PSOE leads the opinion polls and looks to get just over 31 percent of the vote. But there are many indications that as many as four voters out of ten have not yet decided on how to vote. The PSOE leads the opinion polls and looks to get just over 31 percent of the vote. But there are many indications that as many as four voters out of ten have not yet decided on how to vote. The PSOE leads the opinion polls and looks to get just over 31 percent of the vote. But there are many indications that as many as four voters out of ten have not yet decided on how to vote.
New legal proceedings against Catalan separatists
A Barcelona judge, Alejandra Gil, decides to prosecute 30 people for improperly using public funds and for forging documents in connection with the referendum in Catalonia 2017. Among the accused are several people who worked closely with leading and independent Catalan politicians. Gil refrained from prosecuting anyone for “rebellion” which her representative, who passed away in the fall of 2018, considered doing in some cases. The total bail amount for 17 of the defendants is set at almost EUR 6 million, which is as much as the referendum should have cost. However, the court chooses not to act against 15 other persons who have also been subject to investigation.
The pressure on Quim Torra is increasing
The Catalan regional government is facing increasing pressure from the opposition in the Catalan parliament who, in a motion that the regional government is not obliged to follow, votes for a vote of no confidence if the regional president Quim Torra does not announce new elections. He is also criticized for inefficiency. The exercise wins by 62 votes in favor and 61 against. The Left Party CUP, which also requires a new election, abstains. Since Torra took office in May 2018, he has only succeeded in enforcing two laws and five decrees in the regional assembly.
Preliminary investigation begins against Quim Torra
A Spanish prosecutor is launching a preliminary investigation by Catalan regional president Quim Torra since he refused to remove independence symbols from public buildings in Catalonia ahead of the upcoming elections in Spain. It is about Catalan flags and yellow bows set up to show support for the Catalan politicians who are facing trial in Madrid.
Catalans protest in Madrid
Thousands of Catalan independence supporters are demonstrating in Madrid to protest the trial currently underway against their leaders. According to the organizers, there are about 120,000 participants, according to the police they are 18,000.
“Franco’s Remains to be Relocated June 10”
The Spanish government decides that Franco’s remnants should be moved from the mausoleum of El Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) to the El Pardo cemetery in Mingorrubio, north of Madrid, on June 10. Franco’s relatives will then be able to hold a private ceremony on site. The date seems to have been chosen to prevent the decision from being torn down in the event of a change of power following the April 28 congressional elections. In February, the government gave the former dictator’s family 15 days to determine a new burial ground, but that may not be the case with La Almudena Cathedral in Madrid. However, the last word is not said yet, as the family turned to the Supreme Court to prevent Franco’s remnants from being relocated.
A new group will fight cyber threats before the spring elections
11th of March
Ahead of all spring elections, to the Spanish Congress, the European Parliament and local and regional elections, the Spanish government is appointing a group to combat cyberattacks and disinformation campaigns.
Puigdemont is running for the EU elections
11th of March
Former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont, who lives in exile in Belgium, will stand as a candidate in the EU elections on May 26 for the Together for Catalonia (Junts per Catalunya). If he wins a seat in the European Parliament, he must return to Spain in order to take office, and in that case he risks being arrested. Oriol Junqueras, who is facing trial for the uprising in Madrid, also intends to take part in the EU elections as his party’s ERC, top candidate (see also February 2019).
Great manifestations for equality
Six million people take part in the two-hour strike announced by trade unions CCOO and UGT to protest against the lack of equality in Spain. In the Basque region, the regional parliament is allowed to suspend its session when the female members do not participate. 350,000 people demonstrate for women’s rights in Madrid, and a similar manifestation brings together 200,000 participants in Barcelona. Demonstrations are also held in Seville, Bilbao and several other Spanish cities. Gender equality issues also appear to play an important role ahead of the April congressional elections. Among other things, it is stated that men in Spain earn just over 14 percent more than women, according to statistics from the EU. Attention is also directed to the violence against women, in 2018 alone, 47 women were killed by their partners or former partners. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez says he wants to work for a “feminist Spain”. At the same time, there are forces that oppose this development, including the right-wing party Vox.
Spain guarantees British rights if it is breached without a contract
If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, the Spanish government plans to allow British citizens living in Spain to continue to have access to health care and to the social security system until 2020. Until then, they can apply for a permanent residence permit in Spain (for some of them). it will be granted automatically). About 300,000 Britons have registered to live in Spain, but even more Britons live in the country. The plans also include the British residing in Gibraltar.
Spain opposes military intervention in Venezuela
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell says Spain will not support any attempt to resolve the crisis in Venezuela by foreign forces intervening militarily in the country. It happens since opposition leader Juan Guaidó urged other countries to consider all options to force President Nicolás Maduro to give up power. Borrell states that the crisis in Venezuela can only be solved through democratic methods. Earlier in February, Spain was one of several EU countries that recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president.
PSOE’s largest party in opinion polls
According to a new poll conducted by GAD3, the Socialist Party PSOE looks to be the largest party in the April 28 election with almost 29 percent of the vote, followed by PP of just over 23 percent, Ciudadanos of just under 16 percent, Unidos Podemos of just over 11 percent and just under under 11 percent for Vox. Another opinion poll, conducted by Sigma Dos, suggests a similar result, but with slightly higher voting shares for Unidos Podemos and Vox, and slightly lower for PSOE and PP. A few days later, Unido’s name changes to Unidas Podemos Together we (women) can. The name change takes place following pressure from feminists within the alliance.
Mass protest against trial against independence
About 200,000 independence supporters gather in Barcelona to protest the trial of twelve Catalan leaders. They march under the slogan “Self-determination is not a crime”.
Ready for re-election April 28
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez announces new elections until April 28. This has happened since his government lost the important budget vote in Congress. Opinion polls indicate that no party will be able to win its own majority in Congress. The Socialist Party is on a voter support of about 24 percent, followed by the People’s Party (PP) and Ciudadano’s falls a few percentage points lower, while the right-wing extremist Vox, which has no seats at all today, around 10 percent.
Social government loses budget vote, new election probably
The Spanish social government loses the budget vote in Congress, with 191 of the 350 members voting against the budget. 158 members vote for approval, while one member abstains. The defeat is due to the fact that the Catalan independence parties ERC and PDeCAT are jointly involved with the PP, Ciudadanos, the Canary Coalition and the Asturias Forum. Government sources tell El País newspaper that a date for re-election will be announced on February 15.
The trial of twelve separatist leaders begins
The trial of twelve Catalan separatist leaders begins in the Supreme Court in Madrid. It is watched by some 600 journalists and broadcast live on Spanish TV. The trial itself is expected to take three months, but the judges are expected to delay another number of months. The charges are “rebellion, embezzlement of public funds and disobedience”. The prosecutor’s side requires a prison sentence of between seven and 25 years. The longest sentence, 25 years, applies to ERC leader Oriol Junqueras. Former regional president Carles Puigdemont, who is in exile, is not facing justice as Spain does not try people for such serious crimes in their absence.
Mass protests against talks with Catalan separatists
About 45,000 supporters of the People’s Party (PP) and Ciudadanos gather in Madrid to protest against Pedro Sánchez’s plans to appoint a mediator in the talks between Madrid and the Barcelona separatist parties (something which the Catalan independenceists, however, said no). Even sympathizers to the right-wing party Vox also participate in the manifestation held under the slogan “A united Spain. Election now!”. Opinion polls suggest that PP, Ciudadanos and Vox could together win their own majority in Congress if the election were held today.
The talks between Madrid and Barcelona break down
The Socialist government interrupts talks with the Catalan separatist parties. Both sides accuse the other party of the failure of the talks. Madrid has wanted to get the go-ahead for a framework for the talks, including that some kind of mediator would participate in the deliberations, while Barcelona threatens not to approve the Spanish state budget unless the issue of Catalonia’s independence is discussed. At the same time, Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo states that no settlement will be made unless the Catalan parties approve the budget this coming week. Among other things, the Spanish government has promised to increase the appropriations for Catalonia by almost a fifth. If the budget is not approved, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is likely to announce new elections. He has received a lot of criticism, mainly from the right-wing parties,
EU countries recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim president
Several EU countries, including Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and Sweden, are acting against Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro. The countries officially recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó as the country’s interim president, after Maduro rejected an ultimatum to announce new elections. A contact group with countries in the EU and Latin America is formed a few days later to try to resolve the conflict in Venezuela.
Defeat for PSOE in Congress
The Socialist government is suffering its first defeat in Congress when Podemos is doing a joint thing with the opposition and voting against a so-called royal government decree that would have strengthened the rights of those who rent housing from private hosts. 243 members of Congress voted against and 103 voted in favor of the proposal. Podemos votes no with reference to the rent ceiling that has been agreed with the PSOE unless found. Seven other proposals are approved, including that private companies should be able to operate high-speed rail traffic. A royal government decree is a government decision that must be passed by a simple majority in Congress to take effect. It is a faster process than the one commonly used to adopt new legislation.
Errejón leaves Podemos
Podemos risks being split due to disagreement between the party’s two founders Pablo Iglesias and Íñigo Errejón. This after Errejón announced that he will run in the Madrid regional elections in May as candidate for Más Madrid, the left platform led by the capital’s mayor Manuela Carmena. The two men have long disagreed on what strategy the party should have. Errejón is reported to have made the decision after Podemos failed in the Andalucia elections in December. Iglesias regrets Errejon’s decision.
Moreno becomes new head of government in Andalusia
Juan Manuel Moreno is formally elected as the new head of government in Andalusia, where his party PP, will govern in collaboration with Ciudadanos and with the support of the right-wing extremist Vox. In connection with this, thousands of people are demonstrating in protest against the new government and its cooperation with Vox. The regional government’s program includes reduced taxes, the fight against corruption and the high unemployment rate (almost 23 percent of residents lack work).
New money for Catalonia in Madrid’s 2019 budget proposal
Catalonia appears to be the winner of the Spanish Social Government’s draft budget, published more than three months after the formal deadline. The region will receive a grant of more than EUR 2 billion, over 3 percent more than 2018) plus extra money (EUR 200 million) for infrastructure investments. A sign that Madrid will not get through its budget in Congress without the support of Catalan members of the ERC and CDC (now PDeCAT). If they vote against the budget, the government is likely to fall. At the same time, Catalan independence parties would lose out on a change of power in Madrid, as both PP and Ciudadanos and, not least, the right-wing extremist Vox would have a much tougher line against the separatists in Catalonia. The Spanish government has also promised more money for social welfare, higher pensions, housing and various types of investments. This will be partly due to higher taxes for those earning more than EUR 140,000 a year, increased taxation for companies with high profits (more than EUR 20 million). Two new taxes will also be introduced, on digital communications (the so-called google tax) and on financial transactions.
PP and Ciudadanos form government in Andalusia with the support of Vox
The PP, which became the second largest party in the Andalusia regional elections in December, agrees with Ciudadanos to form a new regional government with PP’s Juan Manuel Moreno as head of government. However, they will be dependent on support from the right-wing party Vox, which will not, however, be part of the government coalition. As Ciudadanos refuses to meet with Vox representatives, PP has been forced to conclude separate agreements with both parties. The agreement with the Vox is about limiting immigration by avoiding measures that would attract migrants to the region and lower taxes, but nothing is said about the requirements Vox previously set on changing laws that provide special protection for women and LGBTQ -Persons. Vox had previously presented a list of 19 items where the party has demanded, among other things, the expulsion of 52,000 paperless immigrants, new laws to protect bullfights and withdraw all financial support for Muslim organizations and certain feminist groups. At the same time, almost 100 feminist organizations are protesting Vox’s approach to gender equality and violence against women.
Religious leaders refuse to allow Franco’s remnants to be moved
The plans to move former dictator Franco’s remnants from El Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen) are now encountering a new problem as the Catholic Church refuses the authorities access to the mausoleum where Franco is buried. The decision was made by Prior Santiago Cantera (a prior is the Abbot’s deputy in a Benedictine monastery), which among other things referred to the disagreement over the issue between the government and Franco’s relatives. The government responds that the message is expected when Cantera in the early 1990s ran for election to a neo-fascist party. However, government representatives have pushed higher up the church hierarchy, and among other things had discussions with Pope Benedict’s closest man Pietro Parolin.
Unemployment is falling
Unemployment in Spain is falling and is now at just under 15 percent. This is a significant reduction compared to the past, but unemployment is still the second highest in the euro zone, only Greece has higher figures. In December 2018, the government pledged an extra investment of just over EUR 2 billion to fight youth unemployment, about every third Spaniard under 25 years lacking work. The government’s goal is to reduce youth unemployment to just over 23 percent by 2021 by investing in language and IT education for people under 30.
Over 57,000 migrants came to Spain by sea in 2018
In 2018, almost 58,000 migrants / asylum seekers came across the Mediterranean to Spain, according to figures from the International Migration Organization (IOM). This is significantly more than the previous record year 2006, when 39 180 people traveled from West Africa to Spain, and especially the Canary Islands. This means that about half of the more than 113,000 paperless people who made their way to Europe came to Spain. Most of the migrants come from Morocco, Guinea and Mali. According to Amparo González, a researcher at the CSIC Center, only about half of the migrants remain in Spain, with many migrating to other countries or being deported to their home countries (especially Moroccans and Algerians). During the same period, almost 32,000 migrants / asylum seekers came to Spain from Venezuela.