Spain's turbulent politics : 'Phrases like coup d'etat are floating around'
It is almost four months now since Spain went to the polls to elect a new parliament. This week it looks as if Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez is finally about to be confirmed for a new term as Prime Minister.
But the political road to that outcome has been complex and highly contentious, bringing to the fore all the divisions over ideology and identity which characterise the contemporary political scene in Spain, the EU's fourth largest country.
On today's podcast Hugh Linehan digs into what is happening in Spain with author Paddy Woodworth, who wrote two books about the Basque region, and Madrid-based reporter Guy Hedgecoe.
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European elections: a battle between the heavy hitters46:06Political scientist Theresa Reidy and political correspondent Harry McGee join Hugh to look ahead to June's European elections, when voters in Ireland and across the EU will pick their Members of the European Parliament. Since the last election in 2019, the electoral map has changed, as has much else in Irish and European politics. There are a plethora of independent and small party candidates, but do the circumstances favour those put forward by the big parties, this time around? The panel pick over the candidates, constituencies, EU political dynamics, and more. Dr Theresa Reidy is a senior lecturer and head of department at the Department of Government and Politics, University College Cork.
Is Catherine Martin in political danger?39:44The latest scandal engulfing RTÉ and Minister for Media Catherine Martin may be more cock-up than conspiracy, but it is no less damaging for that. The fallout from the dispute over who knew what, when about retirement payments to outgoing executives has already resulted in the departure of RTÉ board chair Siún Ní Raghallaigh. Just how much damage the affair will do to the Minister remains to be seen. Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has complained that €19 million of funding allocated to reduce waiting times for children in need of spinal surgery may not have been used as intended. Delays in the treatment of childhood Spina Bifida and scoliosis have been one of the worst features of our healthcare system, resulting in much pain and suffering. And we remember our colleague, former political correspondent and regular Inside Politics panelist Michael O’Regan, who died last week. Plus the panel pick their Irish Times pieces of the week: Finn McRedmond on the drinking habits of the youngAn expert weighs in on whether a snail could outpace the development of Dublin’s Metro And Miriam Lord ’s dissection of a frustrating Dáil squabble
Is Ukrainian democracy functioning after two years of war?40:52As the second anniversary of Russia's invasion approaches, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy is still a very popular figure among voters. But with no elections having been held since 2019, and with martial law applying in the country, is democracy being undermined? Dan McLaughlin talks to Hugh Linehan about Ukraine's politics, the recent progress of the war, how critics of Zelenskiy are growing louder and whether there are any mainstream voices calling for compromise or negotiations with Russia.
Referendums: What the amendments would really mean43:15An Coimisiún Toghcháin, Ireland’s independent electoral commission, has taken over the functions previously held by the Referendum Commission in relation to referendums. That means it is responsible for explaining the forthcoming referendums on care and the family. Chair of An Coimisiún Ms Justice Marie Baker and Chief Executive Art O'Leary join Hugh to talk about about what exactly is being asked of voters and the legal implications of yes or no votes on March 8th.
Was Sinn Féin's licence fee amnesty proposal a misstep?40:53Jack Horgan-Jones and Cormac McQuinn join Hugh Linehan to discuss the week in politics:In another awful week for RTÉ before an Oireachtas committee, was it a mistake for Sinn Féin to raise the idea of an amnesty for those refusing to pay their licence fee? And is is sustainable for prominent ex-RTÉ figures like Dee Forbes, Rory Coveney and Breda O'Keeffe to avoid appearing at the committee? The spiralling cost of the National Children's Hospital means renewed analysis of the Government's ability to plan and deliver big projects.And as the Social Democrats get ready for their conference this weekend, the panel takes stock of the party's fortunes. Plus the panel pick their favourite Irish Times pieces of the week:What's in and what's out of the new CSO consumer basket.Replacing Ireland's small embassy building in Washington And has Trump awoken Europe's sleeping beast?
Head-to-head: The Yes and No arguments ahead of the family and care referendums01:02:17At this point we are definitively into the campaign for the two referendums on family and care due to take place on March 8th. The data from the recent Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll showed substantial majorities in favour of both proposed amendments to the Constitution, but also showed a majority of voters that felt they knew very little about the issues that are involved, which might mean that the debates that take place over the course of the campaign itself could possibly change a lot of people’s minds. The opinion pages of the Irish Times have already played host to a range of differing views on the subject, but two weekly columnists have been particularly forthright – Justine McCarthy has argued strongly in favour of the changes and Michael McDowell has been equally forceful against them. They joined host Hugh Linehan to give their thoughts ahead of March 8th.
Sinn Féin poll slump: ‘tide not gone out for them just yet’31:06Pat Leahy and Cormac McQuinn join Hugh Linehan to look back on the week in politics:The latest Irish Times/Ipsos B&A poll shows support for Sinn Féin took a significant dent, down six points – its lowest level in three years. As Pat explains, a lack of clarity around immigration and the misstep that was the ill-judged motion of no confidence in Justice Minister Helen McEntee last December are just two reasons why the party are losing ground to smaller parties and Independents.And data from the poll also threw up some interesting insights into what way voters will vote in both proposals in the upcoming referendums recognising non-marital families and care in the Constitution, and how much they know actually about what they are voting for.Former taoiseach John Bruton passed away this week, the panel discuss the profound consequences of his time leading government, not least the beginning of runaway economic success and the road to the Good Friday Agreement.Plus, they pick their favourite Irish Times articles of the week, on diverse topics: Ukraine war updates, Dublin traffic transformation and Dee Forbes.
Will immigration hand the White House back to Trump?30:37Washington Correspondent Keith Duggan talks to Hugh Linehan about the seemingly inevitable rematch between US President Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump. What issues will dominate the campaign? It's early days, but the flow of immigrants at the southern border seems certain to play to former president Trump's advantage. On the other hand, voters are not yet listening to President Biden's warnings of a threat to democracy should Trump win.
Britain and Ireland will change. It's time to get ready28:58In the past decade relationships between the different parts of the UK and Ireland have changed. The push for Scottish independence, growing support for Irish reunification and the Brexit process have all challenged the status quo. But what comes next? Common Ground is a new initiative by The Irish Times that will seek to elevate debate around the future of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. On today’s podcast Common Ground editor Mark Hennessy talks to Hugh about the big questions the residents of these islands will grapple with in the years ahead.