play it again, Pedrito

PLAY IT AGAIN, PEDRITO: Spain’s ever-acting PM Pedro Sánchez on Monday pledged to increase taxes on the rich and raise the national minimum wage if parliamentarians finally confirm him as premier. Sánchez’s Socialist Party agreed a preliminary coalition pact with Podemos, but the pair doesn’t have enough seats to form a majority. “Where some see an excuse for the blockage, in contrast I see a stimulus, a big opportunity to make the reforms our country needs,” Sánchez said. “We ask the other parliamentarian forces to join the dialogue rather than the blockage.”

Translation: Sánchez is hoping to persuade pro-independence party the Catalan Republican Left (ERC), among others, to abstain in the parliamentary vote on his coalition. It might help if ERC politician and former Catalan leader Oriol Junqueras, who recently won a favorable verdict from the top EU court, was released from jail. (Spain’s state attorney on Monday called for him to be freed.)

Guess what: During the course of the past year, the Catalan separatist issue has officially become a European story. And make no mistake: Though they’re facing a different set of circumstances, the Scots are next up as the separatists who will keep the EU busy. The difference is that U.K. law makes divorce easier, and Britain (and, maybe one day, Scotland) will be a third country very soon — and Brussels is way more comfortable dealing with separatist issues when they crop up outside of the bloc, as this year has shown., 31-XII-19