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July 13, 2018

Can Spain's PP turn eurosceptic over Catalonia?

The Schleswig-Holstein question in the 19th century drove the few people that understood it to madness. The same is now happening with the decision by a Schleswig-Holstein court not to extradite Carles Puigdemont on charges of rebellion. It threatens to drive the PP and the Spanish judiciary to insanity. El Mundo reports that the Spanish supreme court is considering to reject the extradition on limited charges of misuse of public funds only, which would make Puigdemont a free man in Germany but keep the European arrest warrant dangling over his head if he moves to another country. And Esteban Pons, leader of the PP group in the European Parliament, reacted to the decision by declaring the European Arrest Warrant a failure, and demanding that the Spanish government suspend Schengen in protest. 

Is this a knee-jerk reaction or a sign of a PP policy shift? Pablo Casado, the younger candidate in the ongoing PP leadership contest and who is running a hard ideological campaign, also came out yesterday calling for the Schengen border-free area to be scrapped, given that there are no guarantees that Spain will be respected. Casado said that as PP president he would not tolerate Spain being humiliated in this manner by a German court. Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, Mariano Rajoy's deputy PM and the more technocratic candidate for the PP leadership, stressed respect for judicial independence instead. So the PP faces a party congress the following weekend, and will resolve its leadership contest, divided on its reaction to the German court ruling. 

And all indications are that Casado will beat Sáenz de Santamaría for the leadership. He came second in the vote of the party members, but the party congress will be decided by delegates, which have a different composition. PP secretary general Dolores de Cospedal, a known personal foe of Sáenz de Santamaría, has the most delegates and appears to have thrown her lot behind Casado who can probably count on about two thirds of the delegates.

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