Spain’s constitutional court has moved to stop the Catalan government making a unilateral declaration of independence by suspending the regional parliament session in which the results of Sunday’s referendum were due to be discussed. On Thursday, the court upheld a challenge by Catalonia’s Socialist party – which opposes secession from Spain – ruling that allowing the Catalan parliament to meet on Monday and potentially declare independence would violate the rights of the party’s MPs. Catalonia's political turmoil prompting firms to consider relocating . Banks Sabadell and Caixa among first to respond amid fears about access to rest of Spain and EU if independence is declared The court warned that any session carried out in defiance of its ban would be “null”, and added that the parliament’s leaders could face criminal action if they ignored the court order. Carme Forcadell, president of the Catalan parliament, said Monday’s session had not yet been formally convened, but that the court’s decision to suspend it “harms freedom of expression and the right of initiative of members of this parliament and shows once more how the courts are being used to solve political problems.” The Catalan government is understood to be meeting to discuss its response to the latest move by the court. It has previously ignored the constitutional court’s rulings, not least its order to suspend the referendum itself. In a television address on Wednesday evening, the Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, repeated his calls for mediation and dialogue with the Spanish government, but said the results of the vote would be put before parliament. “On Sunday we had a referendum under the most difficult circumstances and set an example of who we are,” he said. “Peace and accord is part of who we are. We have to apply the results of the referendum. We have to present the results of the referendum to parliament.”
Saturday, October 7, 2017
Monday, October 2, 2017
Sunday, October 1, 2017
Saturday, September 30, 2017
SPAIN - Police have sealed off more than half of the 2,315 schools in Catalonia designated as polling stations for a banned independence referendum as tensions rise ahead of the controversial ballot. Tens of thousands of Catalans are expected to vote in the ballot, which will have no legal status as it has been blocked by Spain’s constitutional court. Madrid has sent thousands of police to the north-eastern region to stop it taking place. A Spanish government source said 163 schools designated as voting centres had been occupied by families as images of families including children in sleeping bags have emerged. Although the polls say the independence side would not win a referendum, Catalans, watching Brexit, have seen how easy it is for polls to be wrong.
People supporting the referendum have camped out overnight in schools in an effort to prevent an order by the head of the Catalan regional police to evacuate and close polling stations by 6am on Sunday. Voting is due to begin at 9am. Catalan police have been instructed to empty the buildings by Sunday morning, but not to use violence to remove the people occupying schools.
The police in the region issued an ultimatum to the separatists, parents and children who are occupying schools to leave by 6am on Sunday – a deadline designed to prevent the vote from taking place, since the polls are supposed to open three hours later. Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, said on Saturday the Catalan government’s plan was anti-democratic and runs “counter to the goals and ideals the European Union” is trying to advance. “What they are pushing is not democracy. It is a mockery of democracy, a travesty of democracy,” he added.
Monday, September 11, 2017
When Truls Gulowsen began campaigning in the 1990s, telling Norway it had both a moral obligation and an economic interest in phasing out the industry that has made it rich was not what might be called a vote winner. But as Norwegians go to the polls on Monday, the future of their country’s giant oil and gas business is a major electoral issue – with parties that back curbs or even a shutdown of the industry set to play a key role in post-election coalition-building.
“The public mood has changed,” said Gulowsen, who heads Greenpeace Norway. “Something’s really happening. For the first time, our national dependency on oil, our responsibility as oil pushers to the rest of the world, are real questions.” With the ruling rightwing bloc of parties and the opposition neck and neck, smaller parties may find themselves kingmakers “It looks like it’s going to be very, very close,” said the election analyst Svein Tore Marthinsen. “Both major parties are declining and the landscape is fragmenting – we could have nine parties in parliament, a record. The final outcome is wide open.”
Public opinion certainly is split. “I think the government’s done OK,” said Harald Bergh, 73, a retired engineer. “They’ve spent wisely, cut taxes, kept us afloat. And no one should touch the oil industry – it’s been our salvation.”
Monday, September 4, 2017
The Turkish government has accused Angela Merkel and Martin Schulz of practising the politics of populism and exclusion after the German election frontrunners agreed that the EU should break off negotiations over future Turkish membership. In a televised debate on Sunday evening, the German chancellor said she did not believe Turkey should become a member of the EU, and that she would take up with her EU partners the issue of ending accession talks with Ankara. Schulz, her Social Democrat rival in elections on 24 September, said if he became the next chancellor, he would be much more candid than Merkel in his criticism of Turkey’s contravention of human rights under the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey, he said, had “crossed all the red lines” and therefore it could no longer become a member of the EU. He added that as German chancellor he would break off EU accession talks with Ankara. İbrahim Kalın, a spokesman for Erdoğa, said Merkel and Schulz had focused on Turkey in their television encounter – which was watched by between a third and a half of German voters – to divert attention from more pressing problems. “It is not a coincidence that our president, Erdoğan, was a main topic of the debate,” Kalın tweeted, criticising German politicians’ “indulgence in populism”. He continued: “Germany and Europe’s attacks on Turkey/Erdoğan, in ignoring necessary and pressing problems, are reflections of the narrowing of their horizons. “We hope the problematic atmosphere that made Turkish-German relations the victim of this narrow political horizon will end.” Merkel’s stance was more reserved than Schulz’s, largely because of her dependence on Ankara abiding by a deal to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants inside Turkey’s borders in return for financial aid, visa-free travel for Turks in Europe as well as the promise of faster EU membership talks.Turkey, he said, had “crossed all the red lines” and therefore it could no longer become a member of the EU. He added that as German chancellor he would break off EU accession talks with Ankara.
İbrahim Kalın, a spokesman for Erdoğa, said Merkel and Schulz had focused on Turkey in their television encounter – which was watched by between a third and a half of German voters – to divert attention from more pressing problems.
“It is not a coincidence that our president, Erdoğan, was a main topic of the debate,” Kalın tweeted, criticising German politicians’ “indulgence in populism”.
He continued: “Germany and Europe’s attacks on Turkey/Erdoğan, in ignoring necessary and pressing problems, are reflections of the narrowing of their horizons.
“We hope the problematic atmosphere that made Turkish-German relations the victim of this narrow political horizon will end.”
Merkel’s stance was more reserved than Schulz’s, largely because of her dependence on Ankara abiding by a deal to keep hundreds of thousands of migrants inside Turkey’s borders in return for financial aid, visa-free travel for Turks in Europe as well as the promise of faster EU membership talks.
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Gerhard Schröder defied critics on Wednesday night, insisting that joining the board of Russian energy giant Rosneft was entirely up to him.
"I will do this. This is about my life and I decide – not the German press," he said in his usual candid manner. He was speaking at an election campaign event for the Social Democrats (SPD) in the northern town of Rotenburg on the Wümme. He added that he could not see a problem and that "I'm not going to allow anyone to make it into one."Schröder, who was German chancellor from 1998 to 2005, was harshly criticized for his decision by the media, but also – among others - by his successor Angela Merkel as well as Martin Schulz from his own SPD party. Rosneft has been subject to EU sanctions due to Russia's unlawful annexation of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula. Schröder, however, stressed that getting involved with the world's biggest oil company was in Germany's interest. "I stand by what I've said before – that it's not wise to isolate our big neighbor Russia both politically and economically," he said adding that his critics were apparently interested in a new Cold War with Russia. He said he was "fed up" with the criticism of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, saying that compared to US President Donald Trump, Putin was "highly rational" and that "demonizing Russia" would get us nowhere.He emphasized that Rosneft was an international company and not "the extended arm of the Russian government." Russia owns just over 50 percent of Rosneft. The former German chancellor is known for his connection to Russia – he once dubbed Russian President Vladimir Putin a "flawless Democrat." After he lost to Merkel in the 2005 election, he joined the Nordstream pipeline consortium, which is controlled by Russia's Gazprom. He has since switched to join an extension of the original pipeline, known as Nordstream 2. Schröder is due to be formally elected to Rosneft's supervisory board on September 29. It is not clear yet whether he will lead the board or just become a member.