Europe’s Growing Force

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The conservative People’s Party (PP) won the most seats in Spain’s parliamentary elections last month. Because the PP has joined forces with the far-right Vox party, King Felipe VI has invited PP leader Alberto Nuñez Feijóo to form a government.

Many observers, however, think Feijóo might fail to forge a coalition and become prime minister when lawmakers vote on the matter on Sept. 27. Feijóo is now negotiating furiously to cobble together a coalition government or, failing that, at least demonstrate how he won’t compromise his values for power, noted Euractiv.

It’s not clear if Feijóo is willing to make the concessions necessary to add enough parliamentarians to his coalition, Reuters wrote. Many of Catalonia’s separatist parties, like the Basque Nationalist Party, for instance, have refused to work with Feijóo because he has teamed up with Vox, whose leaders are vehemently opposed to granting more independence to the country’s regions.

In addition to bolstering the central government’s control over Spain’s restive regions, Feijóo has also pledged to repeal progressive laws enacted under acting prime minister Pedro Sánchez that extended rights to transgender Spaniards and sought to atone for the legacy of the fascist dictatorship of Francisco Franco, the Guardian reported.

Such views have become more widespread in Europe as of late. Right-wing governments are now in charge or exerting significant influence in Italy, Poland, Finland and Sweden, Al Jazeera wrote. Their power is growing elsewhere, too.

In Germany, for instance, Maximilian Krah, who is running for the European Parliament as a candidate from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), has called Pride Month disgusting and “peppers his speech with allusions to white-supremacist conspiracy theories,” the Washington Post wrote.

German conservatives, like those in Spain, have also been wrestling with whether they should join the AfD in order to secure power or take the high road and reject their hate – but descend into political opposition and, arguably, irrelevancy, according to the New York Times.

However, Germany’s main opposition leader, Friedrich Merz of the Christian Democratic Union, on Sunday ruled out cooperation of any kind with the far-right party: He was forced to backtrack from comments in July suggesting he could work with the AfD at a local level following a backlash from within his own ranks, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, Carles Puigdemont, the former president of Catalonia region, might become a kingmaker in the political impasse in Spain.

Though he is now living in exile after kicking off a secession crisis in Catalonia six years ago, today he controls the seven lawmakers in the Junts political party, Politico explained. If he supports Sánchez, whose party received the second-most votes in last month’s election, he could dash the conservatives’ hopes for control in the capital of Madrid.

In the face of politicians who would keep Catalonia under Madrid’s control, Spanish democracy has given Puigdemont a decisive voice in a country he has vowed to break up.

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