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    ICJ Orders Israel to Halt Its Military Incursion Into Rafah

    The International Court of Justice has no means to enforce its order in the Gazan city, but the ruling added pressure on the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to “immediately” halt its military offensive in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, dealing another blow to the country as it faces increasing international isolation and a drumbeat of criticism over its conduct in the war.The court has few effective means of enforcing its order, and it stopped short of ordering a cease-fire in Gaza, with some of the court’s judges arguing that Israel could still conduct some military operations in Rafah under the terms of their decision.But the order added more pressure on the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has faced domestic and external calls to reach a cease-fire deal with Hamas that would lead to the release of hostages held in Gaza.“The court considers that, in conformity with obligations under the Genocide Convention, Israel must immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” the court’s president, Nawaf Salam, said in reading the 13-2 ruling.The court, based at The Hague, also specified the need for open land crossings, in particular the Rafah crossing, as part of its request for “the unhindered provision” of humanitarian assistance and services. Israel has controlled the Rafah crossing for more than two weeks, and very few aid trucks have entered the enclave since, according to United Nations data.The Israeli government said in a statement that its military “has not and will not” take actions that would lead to the partial or complete destruction of the Palestinian population of Rafah. In effect, it said that the court’s decision has no bearing on Israel’s offensive because the prohibited acts are not occurring. We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Comet Fragment Explodes in Dark Skies Over Spain and Portugal

    A brilliant flash of blue, green and white on Saturday night came from a shard of an as yet unidentified comet that was moving around 100,000 miles per hour, experts said.A bright object broke up in Earth’s atmosphere on Saturday night, illuminating night skies over parts of Spain and Portugal. Experts say it was a fragment of a comet, perhaps only a few feet in size.ESA/PDO/AMS82 – AllSky7 via ReutersOn Saturday, revelers across Spain and Portugal ventured into the temperate springtime evening, hoping for a memorable night. None were expecting a visitor from outer space exploding above their heads.At 11:46 p.m. in Portugal, a fireball streaked across the sky, leaving a smoldering trail of incandescent graffiti in its wake. Footage shared on social media shows jaws dropping as the dark night briefly turns into day, blazing in shades of snowy white, otherworldly green and arctic blue.Rocky asteroids cause sky-high streaks as they self-destruct in Earth’s atmosphere with some frequency. But over the weekend, the projectile was plunging toward Earth at a remarkable speed — around 100,000 miles per hour, more than twice that expected by a typical asteroid. Experts say it had a strange trajectory, not matching the sort normally taken by nearby space rocks.That’s because the interloper wasn’t an asteroid. It was a fragment of a comet — an icy object that may have formed at the dawn of the solar system — that lost its battle with our planet’s atmosphere 37 miles above the Atlantic Ocean. None of the object is likely to have made it to the ground, the European Space Agency said.“It’s an unexpected interplanetary fireworks show,” said Meg Schwamb, a planetary astronomer at Queen’s University Belfast.It is not rare for comets to create shooting stars. “We have notable meteor showers throughout the year, which are the result of the Earth crossing debris clouds of specific comets,” Dr. Schwamb said. For example, the Perseids, which occur every August, are the result of our world’s sweeping through litter left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Spain’s Socialists Win Catalan Vote Dominated by Amnesty for Separatists

    For the first time in over a decade, the regional government in Catalonia may be led by a party opposed to independence.Spain’s governing Socialist party emerged on Sunday as the winner of regional elections in Catalonia that had been widely seen as a litmus test for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s polarizing amnesty measure for separatists.The Socialists are celebrating what they claim is a momentous victory, though they did not clinch enough seats to govern on their own. They most likely face weeks of bargaining, and possibly a repeat election if no agreement is reached. But for the first time in over a decade, they may be able to form a regional government led by an anti-independence party.Addressing supporters late Sunday night at Socialist headquarters in Barcelona, the party leader, Salvador Illa, declared: “For the first time in 45 years, we have won the elections in Catalonia, in terms of both seats and votes. The Catalans have decided to open a new era.”Still, Mr. Illa, who has promised improvements in social services, education and drought management, will need 68 of the Catalan Parliament’s 135 seats to form a government. On Sunday, his party got only 42, meaning he will have to seek support from the pro-independence party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (Catalan Republican Left) and the left-wing Comuns.“Winning does not mean governing,” Toni Rodon, a professor of political science at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, said before the results were in. While Esquerra has supported Mr. Sánchez in the Spanish Parliament, he said, negotiations in Catalonia are not expected to be easy.The Socialists’ main rival was the pro-independence Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), led by Carles Puigdemont, who campaigned from exile in France. Junts came a close second, but with 35 seats would not be able to form a government with other pro-independence parties, which performed badly.We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Leigh Bardugo’s Latest Travels to Renaissance Spain

    In “The Familiar,” the blockbuster fantasist conjures a world of mystical intrigue and romance.THE FAMILIAR, by Leigh BardugoFor those unacquainted with Catholic demonology, a familiar, or “familiar spirit,” as the phrase shows up in the Bible, is an otherworldly creature indentured to a master, usually whoever’s summoned it — a witch or necromancer or, in the case of Aladdin, a lucky rube who finds a bottle in need of a shine.In Leigh Bardugo’s richly drawn novel of magic and eternal love “The Familiar,” the Aladdin of the story is Luzia, a scullion girl working for fallen nobility in 16th-century Spain. Spells and enchantments come to Luzia with ease, initially manifesting as small remedies to household gaffes: A burned loaf of bread is suddenly edible; a ripped seam repairs itself. She’s wildly gifted, but has little control of her abilities.Enter Guillén Santángel, a familiar bound to serve Victor de Paredes, an ambitious tradesman known throughout Madrid for his astonishing luck. The de Paredes family has owned Santángel for three generations, employing him as an invaluable henchman, fixer and bringer of otherworldly good fortune. Known as El Alacrán, the scorpion, Santángel is an indomitable force with a voice like “ashes gone cold” who looks “at once beautiful and like he was dying, as if a sheet had been laid over a particularly handsome corpse.” When de Parades selects Luzia to compete as his “holy champion” in a torneo of magic at the luxurious La Casilla, a contest with life-or-death stakes, Santángel is enlisted to guide her. In the process, he becomes her protector, mentor and friend.Luzia, described by one character as a wolf who has “taken the shape of a girl,” makes for an unlikely sorceress. She lacks formal education, and is as ignorant of her potential as she is of her origins. Luzia’s ancestors were, it turns out, conversos, Jews forced to convert to Catholicism but still considered “the embodiment of everything the Inquisition reviled.” Although her parents are dead, Luzia’s aunt has taught her the “precious, perilous scraps of language” that form the basis of her spells, a music she hears but doesn’t fully understand. At La Casilla, Luzia must hide her origins and her intelligence. She dresses with prim severity in a plain black dress and a white ruff like a Renaissance-era Coco Chanel, hoping to seem less threatening. We are having trouble retrieving the article content.Please enable JavaScript in your browser settings.Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.Thank you for your patience while we verify access.Already a subscriber? Log in.Want all of The Times? Subscribe. More

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    Pedro Sánchez Secures New Term to Lead a Divided Spain

    The Socialist prime minister won a parliamentary vote only after promising amnesty to Catalan separatists, enraging conservatives.Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish progressive leader, secured a second term as prime minister on Thursday after a polarizing agreement granting amnesty to Catalan separatists gave him enough support in Parliament to govern with a fragile coalition over an increasingly divided nation.With 179 votes, barely more than the 176 usually required to govern, Mr. Sánchez, who has been prime minister since 2018, won a chance to extend the progressive agenda, often successful economic policies and pro-European Union posture of his Socialist Party.The outcome was the result of months of haggling since an inconclusive July election in which neither the conservative Popular Party, which came in first, or the Socialist Party, which came in second, secured enough support to govern alone.But the fractures in Spain were less about left versus right and more about the country’s very geographic integrity and identity. Mr. Sánchez’s proposed amnesties have breathed new life into a secession issue that last emerged in 2017, when separatists held an illegal referendum over independence in the prosperous northeastern region of Catalonia.That standoff caused perhaps the worst constitutional crisis for Spain since it became a democracy after the fall of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s.It has since fueled a Spanish nationalist movement once considered taboo in the wake of Franco’s rule.Even before Mr. Sánchez could be sworn in, the prospect of an amnesty brought hundreds of thousands of conservatives and right-wing hard-liners into the streets in sometimes violent protests that have also drawn the American rabble-rouser Tucker Carlson. Spain’s courts have criticized the proposed amnesty as a violation of the separation of powers. European Union officials are watching nervously.Demonstrators gathered in Barcelona, Spain, on Sunday, to protest the government’s proposed law that would grant amnesty to Catalan separatists.Pau Barrena/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesThe parliamentary debate leading to Thursday’s vote in a building protected by barricades was particularly bitter as Mr. Sánchez defended the proposed clemency law from conservative accusations of corruption and democratic illegitimacy.“Every time the national dimension enters the arena, emotions grow and the debate is even further polarized,” said José Ignacio Torreblanca, a Spain expert at the European Council on Foreign Relations, a think tank. Spain was in for “ugly, nasty and dirty” months ahead, he said.The separatism issue has given a “second life” to Carles Puigdemont, former president of the Catalonia region who was the force behind the 2017 secession movement and is now a fugitive in self-exile in Belgium, Mr. Torreblanca said. The hard-right party Vox, which, after a lackluster showing in the elections, has again raised its voice, calling for constant street protests.This seemed very much the situation Spaniards hoped to avoid when they cast most of their votes with mainstream parties in July, signaling that they wanted the stability of a strong center.In the balloting, the Popular Party persuaded many to choose their more mainstream conservatism over Vox but came up short of enough votes to form a government.Mr. Sánchez needed the support of a separatist party to govern — and in return offered amnesties, something he had previously called a red line he would not cross. The alternative was new elections.“The left face a great cost if they go to new elections, so having a government is crucial for them. But pro-independence parties face an important opportunity cost if this government is not in place,” said Pablo Simón, a political scientist at Carlos III University in Madrid. “All of them are very weak, but they need each other.”Carles Puigdemont, who has been in exile in Belgium, speaking by video link at a gathering of his Junts per Catalunya party in 2020.Quique Garcia/EPA, via ShutterstockPolls show that about two-thirds of Spaniards oppose the amnesty, demonstrated by large, and largely peaceful, protests throughout the country, though Vox politicians have attended violent rallies peppered with extremists outside Socialist Party headquarters. This week, Mr. Carlson, the former Fox News celebrity, attended one of the protests in Madrid with the Vox leader, Santiago Abascal, and said anyone willing “to end democracy is a tyrant, is a dictator. And this is happening in the middle of Europe.”Mr. Sánchez and his supporters have pointed out that their coalition — however much the hard right dislikes it — won enough support to govern, as the Constitution dictates. In a lengthy speech on Wednesday, Mr. Sánchez derided the conservatives for their alliance with Vox. He argued that the deal with the Catalan Republican Left and with the more radical Junts per Catalunya, the de facto leader of which is Mr. Puigdemont, was required to promote unity for the country.“And how do we guarantee that unity? You can try the path of tension and imposition, or you can try the path of dialogue, understanding and forgiveness,” Mr. Sánchez said, citing his record of pardoning imprisoned separatist leaders in 2021 as a way to reduce tensions with Catalonia. He said that the conservative hard-line approach had brought the unsuccessful 2017 move for secession in the first place.The conservative Popular Party’s leader, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, attacked Mr. Sánchez as “the problem.”“You and your inability to keep your word, your lack of moral limits, your pathological ambition,” he said. “As long as you’re around, Spain will be condemned to division. Your time as prime minister will be marked by Puigdemont returning freely to Catalonia. History will have no amnesty for you.”The leader of the conservative Popular Party, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, center, at a protest against the amnesty bill in Madrid on Sunday.Thomas Coex/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesBut Mr. Sánchez seemed unaffected and instead mocked the conservatives as having a record of corruption and for being motivated by sour grapes over losing the election, laughing at Mr. Feijóo, who sat in front of him.“I don’t understand why you’re so keen to hold a new election if you won the last one,” Mr. Sánchez said.Mr. Sánchez also took direct aim at the leader of Vox, Mr. Abascal, saying, “The only effective barrier to the policies of the far right is our coalition government.”The amnesty bill would cancel “penal, administrative and financial” penalties against more than 300 people involved in the independence movement from Jan. 1, 2012, to Nov. 13, 2023.But Mr. Sánchez’s Socialists had also agreed to relieve millions of euros in debt to Catalonia, a demand of the separatists, and to give it some control over commuter train services. Mr. Puigdemont’s party had demanded that Catalonia, which is a wealthy region, keep more of its tax revenues, and that referendum talks should restart, though this time abiding by the demands of the Spanish Constitution.Conservatives have vowed to fight the law, which will take many months to work its way through Parliament and must overcome serious hurdles, not least of them the objection of Spanish judges. There is the risk that if the separatists are stymied by the courts, which they consider politically motivated, they could drop out of the coalition, essentially paralyzing Mr. Sánchez’s legislative agenda.“Probably this government will be stuck in Parliament,” said Mr. Simón, the political scientist, adding that grievances over the amnesties in regional governments controlled by conservatives would hurt cooperation and governance as well.There is also the question of whether Mr. Puigdemont could once again pursue an illegal referendum, recreating the trauma of 2017. That would probably embolden the nationalist Vox, whose grave warnings about the destruction of Spain would seem legitimized.“If you activate this extinction or survival mode of Spanish nationalists, then the conservative party may not be the best option because you are frustrated and angry,” said Mr. Torreblanca, the analyst.He added that Spain could be entering a risky scenario in which “those who lose the elections do not accept that they have lost, not so much because the vote was rigged, but because the government is doing things which they considered outrageous.” More

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    Sánchez’s Deal With Catalonia Separatists Creates Turmoil in Spain

    Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s agreement with Catalan separatists will likely keep him in power, but it has provoked an upheaval.Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain sealed a deal to extend amnesty to Catalan separatists on Thursday in exchange for their political support, likely allowing him to stay in power but causing turmoil throughout Spain, doubts in Europe and questions about the country’s stability.Mr. Sánchez, 51, who is currently acting as a caretaker prime minister after inconclusive snap elections he called in July, backed the amnesties related to an illegal referendum that shook Spain in 2017 to receive the critical support of the Junts party, which supports independence from Spain for the northern region of Catalonia.With their support, Mr. Sánchez will likely avoid new elections, win parliamentary backing for another stint as prime minister and solidify his place in the European Union as its standard-bearer for progressive politics.But the proposed amnesties, something Mr. Sánchez had previously said he would never do, triggered an uproar..Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of Spain speaking with the media last month.Virginia Mayo/Associated PressEarlier in the day, Mr. Sánchez’s allies, eager to avoid the appearance that the deal had been struck out of pure political calculation, sought to frame the proposal as instrumental in putting a tense and violent period of Spanish history behind the country.It was “a historic opportunity to resolve a conflict that could — and should — only be resolved politically,” Santos Cerdán, a top negotiator with the Socialist Party, who had performed shuttle diplomacy between Madrid and separatist exiles in Brussels, said after the deal was announced. “Our aim is to open the way for a legislature that will allow us to progress and to build an open and modern society and a better country.”The deal potentially marks a remarkable reversal of political fortune for Mr. Sánchez, who has made a career out of bold, long-shot bets, but who seemed on the brink of a political abyss after his party received a drubbing in local and regional elections in May.But the Junts party is not a reliable partner, and has already made clear it will continue to seek to extract concessions in exchange for its support in close votes in Parliament.The deal, and the violence, come after thousands of protesters angrily surrounded the Socialist Party headquarters in Madrid in past days and called on Mr. Sánchez not to make a deal with the separatists, whom many conservatives consider an existential threat to Spanish nationhood.Protesters holding independence flags in September during a demonstration to celebrate the Catalan National Day in Barcelona.Emilio Morenatti/Associated PressThe mainstream conservative Popular Party, which had been expected to win elections over the summer but fell short of enough votes to form a government, has called for major demonstrations throughout Spain’s major cities on Sunday.It is about “privileging a minority to the detriment of a majority, and ending the equality between Spaniards that is enshrined in the Constitution,” said Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the Popular Party leader, who said that Mr. Sánchez had clearly aligned himself with enemies of the state. “The humiliation to which Sánchez is subjecting our country is complete.”In Brussels, the European commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, sent a letter to Spain’s justice and presidency ministers about the “serious concerns” raised by the amnesty proposal.In regional and local elections in May, Mr. Sánchez’s party took such a shellacking that he pulled the plug on his government, opting to try his chances with an early national election instead. He was expected to lose.But while Mr. Sánchez did not come out on top in the July election, he and his progressive allies won enough support to stun the favored conservative and hard-right parties, depriving them of the necessary parliamentary support to form a government.Mr. Sánchez, who has served as the prime minister since 2018, a position he won in a daring confidence vote, instead had a narrow path to building a government, but it ran right through the issue of Catalan independence, among the most prickly and fraught in Spanish politics.In 2017, leaders of the Catalan separatist movement provoked Spain’s greatest constitutional crisis in decades when they staged an independence referendum that Madrid called illegal.Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s exiled former leader, at a news conference in Brussels. Mr. Puigdemont has been in exile in Belgium.John Thys/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesAfter enormous demonstrations in Barcelona and a tense national climate, the heads of the movement balked. Their leader, who was president of Catalonia at the time, Carles Puigdemont, fled the country and has remained in self-imposed exile in Belgium since. His allies have faced convictions.But on Thursday, Mr. Sánchez won the support of seven lawmakers from the Junts party that Mr. Puigdemont essentially leads, in exchange for the Socialist Party proposing a new law granting amnesty to him and everyone else in the failed independence referendum. The new law could affect many separatists who have been convicted or are currently facing trial for pro-independence activities.The specifics of the agreement have not yet been made public, and it is expected to be proposed in the Spanish Parliament next week. The deal was not a given, and required more than two months of negotiations between Sánchez’s Socialist party, his own, more progressive allies, and the Catalan and Basque independence movements that, despite a lackluster showing in July’s election, retained enough leverage to force a deal.Mr. Puigedemont said on Thursday at a news conference in Brussels that he would still support the cause of independence, and he celebrated the deal, saying that it took the issue out of the judiciary and brought it back in the public sphere where it belonged.“It is a way to return to politics,” he said, “what is politics.”Rachel Chaundler More

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    ¿Qué significa para España la derrota electoral de la extrema derecha?

    Una de las pocas certezas de los resultados de las elecciones fue que los españoles se están alejando de los extremos políticos.El statu quo liberal y moderado de Europa respiró con más tranquilidad el lunes luego de que Vox, un partido nacionalista de España, se tambaleara en las elecciones generales del domingo con lo que, por el momento, se contuvo el auge de los partidos de extrema derecha en el continente, que parecía que tendrían buenos resultados incluso en España, un bastión progresista.“Un alivio para Europa”, se leía en un titular de La Repubblica, el diario liberal de Italia, donde el año pasado la líder de extrema derecha Giorgia Meloni se convirtió en primera ministra. Meloni, en un mensaje en video divulgado este mes, les dijo a sus aliados de Vox que “la hora de los patriotas ha llegado”.Sin embargo, en vez de que Vox se tornara en el primer partido de extrema derecha en formar parte de un gobierno de España desde el final de la dictadura de Francisco Franco hace casi 50 años, como habían estimado muchas encuestas, se hundió. Los malos resultados del partido en las urnas también afectaron a los conservadores de centroderecha, quienes a su vez obtuvieron resultados más limitados de los que se esperaban y que dependían del apoyo de Vox para formar gobierno.Como resultado, ningún partido o coalición obtuvo de manera inmediata los escaños necesarios del Congreso para gobernar, lo que llevó a España a un embrollo político ya conocido y le dio nueva vida al presidente del gobierno, Pedro Sánchez, que hace solo unos días lucía agonizante. De pronto, Sánchez parece mejor posicionado para formar otro gobierno progresista en las próximas semanas y así evitar nuevas elecciones.“La democracia encontrará la fórmula de la gobernabilidad”, dijo el lunes a los líderes de su partido, el Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE), según el diario El País.Lo que quedó claro es que los votantes españoles rechazaron al partido Vox, que perdió casi la mitad de sus escaños en el Congreso, lo que indica un anhelo evidente de alejarse de los extremos y regresar al centro político.Los políticos proeuropeos interpretaron el resultado como una señal alentadora de que las elecciones europeas del próximo año también se pueden ganar desde el centro, lo que significa un revés para las fuerzas de extrema derecha que han logrado avances en Suecia, Finlandia, Alemania, Francia e Italia, así como en Estados Unidos.La campaña de Vox repitió las opiniones nacionalistas de la extrema derecha adoptados de manera casi uniforme en otros países, con una oposición a la migración y a los derechos de la comunidad LGBTQ, la promoción de los valores cristianos tradicionales y la reafirmación del nacionalismo frente a la injerencia de la Unión Europea.Pero muchos de esos temas no lograron cautivar a los votantes españoles, o incluso los asustaron, y los resultados electorales fueron contrarios a la tendencia política de Europa.Los resultados, por el contrario, revelaron que el ascenso de Vox estuvo más relacionado con la respuesta nacionalista al impulso independentista de 2017 en Cataluña. Sánchez logró sosegar ese tema durante sus cinco años en el cargo al otorgar indultos y reducir las penas para los independentistas.Pedro Sánchez, líder del PSOE y presidente del gobierno español, en Madrid el domingoNacho Doce/ReutersEsas medidas tuvieron un costo político para él entre los españoles enfadados con los independentistas catalanes, pero conforme esa crisis comenzó a pasar a segundo plano, lo mismo le sucedió a Vox. Al final, el mensaje del partido les interesó a muchos menos electores en estos comicios que en 2019.“Cataluña ha sido uno de los principales impulsores del ascenso de Vox”, dijo Juan Rodríguez Teruel, politólogo de la Universidad de Valencia.Pero los resultados del domingo también mostraron que la cuestión catalana aún no está superada del todo. El lunes quedó claro que los partidos independentistas pequeños de esa región podrían ser la clave para permitir un nuevo gobierno de Sánchez, como lo hicieron en la votación anterior.Entre esos partidos están, de manera decisiva, los aliados independentistas de Carles Puigdemont, el expresidente regional de Cataluña que lideró el movimiento independentista fallido y todavía está prófugo, en un exilio autoimpuesto en Bélgica.“Puigdemont podrá hacer presidente a Sánchez”, se lee en parte de un titular del diario español El Mundo.El lunes comenzó de inmediato un complejo juego del gato y el ratón, porque unas autoridades españolas solicitaron una nueva orden de detención contra Puigdemont.“Un día eres decisivo para la formación de un gobierno español y al día siguiente España ordena tu arresto”, tuiteó el lunes.Gabriel Rufián, integrante del Congreso de los Diputados por Esquerra Republicana, un partido independentista catalán, dijo en una entrevista antes de las elecciones que Sánchez no tendría más remedio que dialogar con los independentistas.“Hace cuatro años, en la campaña electoral, prometió ir a buscar a Puigdemont a Waterloo y detenerle”, dijo Rufián sobre Sánchez. “No podía. Era absurdo”. Y añadió: “Meses después se sentó en la mesa de negociación con nosotros. Fue por la presión política, porque necesitaba gobernar su país”.El domingo por la noche, tras la votación, resumió su mensaje en una frase: “O Cataluña o Vox”. Pero su partido también perdió apoyo con el viraje de los electores españoles hacia el centro.Está por verse qué significará el resurgimiento del debate sobre Cataluña para España, los independentistas y Vox.Vox se fundó hace una década, cuando su líder, Santiago Abascal, se separó del Partido Popular (PP), un partido de centroderecha que por mucho tiempo ha albergado a partidarios de la monarquía, libertarios a favor del matrimonio igualitario, católicos ultraconservadores y españoles que repudian los movimientos independentistas del norte.El partido creía en una España unificada pero, en las décadas que siguieron al régimen de Franco, las expresiones a favor de esa postura —incluso ondear la bandera española—, se consideraban un tabú del nacionalismo.Sin embargo, animado por el impulso independentista en Cataluña, Vox estaba dispuesto a cruzar esa línea. Un buen número de votantes españoles apoyaron al partido.Los nacionalistas de Vox —que hicieron un llamado a que el movimiento independentista catalán fuera detenido por cualquier medio— atrajeron apoyo. Para las elecciones de 2019, se habían convertido en la tercera fuerza más grande del país.En un breve discurso el domingo por la noche tras los malos resultados de su partido, un Abascal que lucía abatido reconoció que Sánchez ahora tenía el apoyo para bloquear la formación de un nuevo gobierno, y también podría formar gobierno si se aliaba de nuevo con la extrema izquierda y los partidos independistas, o lo que describió como “el apoyo del comunismo, el separatismo de golpista y el terrorismo”.“Vamos a resistir”, insistió, y afirmó que su partido estaba preparado para ser parte de la oposición o “para una repetición electoral”.Pero los analistas creen que es probable que unas nuevas elecciones solo debiliten aún más a Vox. La influencia regresó a Cataluña, y más específicamente al partido de línea dura Junts per Catalunya, fundado por Puigdemont.“No haremos presidente a Sánchez a cambio de nada”, dijo en la sede del partido el domingo por la noche Míriam Nogueras, líder de Junts.Otros miembros de su partido, que fueron indultados por Sánchez, han sugerido que una amnistía y un referéndum de independencia puede ser el precio que exigen.Sin embargo, algunos políticos de izquierda y dirigentes locales que desconfían de Vox han expresado su preocupación por la posibilidad de que el aumento de la tensión con Cataluña sea exactamente lo que necesita la extrema derecha para resurgir.El viernes por la noche, Yolanda Díaz, líder de la plataforma de extrema izquierda Sumar que obtuvo 31 escaños, dijo en un mitin en Barcelona que quería “dialogar con Cataluña. Queremos un acuerdo. Salid a votar por el dialogo, por un acuerdo, por una Cataluña mejor”.Yolanda Díaz, líder de la plataforma de extrema izquierda Sumar, en un mitin en Barcelona el viernesMaria Contreras Coll para The New York TimesEl lunes, su partido contactó a Puigdemont y a Junts para intentar persuadirlos de respaldar al gobierno.En Barcelona, antes de las elecciones del domingo, a lo largo de una calle importante que se cubrió con banderas catalanas durante las protestas de 2017, solo había una a la vista.“La situación de España y la irrupción de la extrema derecha es una consecuencia de lo que ha pasado aquí en Cataluña”, dijo Joaquim Hernández, de 64 años.“Al no hacer el referéndum mantienes la tensión y el enfrentamiento que beneficia a los partidos independentistas y a Vox”, dijo, “porque Cataluña es desafortunadamente un argumento que utilizan los nacionalistas para ganar votos”.Rachel Chaundler More

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    What the Collapse of Spain’s Far Right Means Going Forward

    About the only thing clear from Spain’s muddled election results was that Spaniards were turning away from the political extremes.Europe’s liberal and moderate establishment breathed easier on Monday after Spain’s nationalist Vox party faltered in Sunday’s elections, stalling for now a surge from far-right parties around the continent that seemed on the brink of washing over even the progressive bastion of Spain.“A relief for Europe,” read a front-page headline in the liberal La Repubblica in Italy, where the hard-right leader Giorgia Meloni became prime minister last year and predicted “the hour of the patriots has arrived” in a video message to her Vox allies this month.But instead of Vox becoming the first hard-right party to enter government in Spain since the end of the Franco dictatorship nearly 50 years ago, as many polls had predicted, it sank. The party’s poor returns at the polls also took down the underperforming center-right conservatives who had depended on Vox’s support to form a government.As a result, no single party or coalition immediately gained enough parliamentary seats to govern, thrusting Spain into a familiar political muddle and giving new life to Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, who only days ago seemed moribund. Suddenly, Mr. Sánchez appeared best positioned to cobble together another progressive government in the coming weeks to avoid new elections.“This democracy will find the governability formula,” he told the leaders of his Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party on Monday, according to El País.What is clear for now is that Spanish voters rebuked the Vox party, which lost nearly half its seats in Parliament, signaling a clear desire to turn away from the extremes and back toward the political center.Pro-European politicians took the result as an encouraging sign that next year’s European elections would also be won in the center, dealing a setback to the far-right forces that have made gains in Sweden, Finland, Germany, France and Italy, as well as in the United States.Vox’s campaign parroted nearly uniform hard-right, nationalist views espoused in other nations, with opposition to migration and L.G.B.T.Q. rights, promotion of traditional Christian values and the assertion of nationalism over meddling from the European Union.But many of those issues failed to draw Spanish voters, or even scared them, and the country’s election results went contrary to Europe’s political winds.Instead, the results made clear that the rise of Vox had more to do with the nationalist response to a 2017 explosion of secessionist fervor in Spain’s Catalonia region. Mr. Sánchez managed to defuse that issue during his five years in office by delivering pardons and weakening penalties for the secessionists.Pedro Sánchez, Spain’s Socialist leader and prime minister, in Madrid, on Sunday.Nacho Doce/ReutersFor that he paid a political price among Spaniards angered by the Catalans, but as long as the issue seemed on the back burner, so did Vox. Ultimately, the party’s message had far fewer takers in this election than it did in 2019.“Catalonia has been one of the main drivers of the rise of Vox,” said Juan Rodríguez Teruel, a political scientist at the University of Valencia.But Sunday’s results also showed that the Catalan issue was not quite dead yet. On Monday, it became clear that the small independence parties of that region may very well hold the key to unlocking a new government for Mr. Sánchez, just as they did in the last vote.Critically, those parties include the pro-independence allies of Carles Puigdemont, the former regional president of Catalonia who led the failed secessionist movement and is still on the run, living in self-imposed exile in Belgium.“Puigdemont could make Sánchez president,” read a headline in the daily Spanish newspaper El Mundo.A complicated cat-and-mouse game was immediately underway on Monday, with Spanish prosecutors issuing a new arrest warrant for Mr. Puigdemont.“One day you are decisive in order to form a Spanish government, the next day Spain orders your arrest,” he tweeted on Monday.Gabriel Rufián, a member of Parliament with the Republican Left of Catalonia, a pro-Catalan independence party, said in a pre-election interview that Mr. Sánchez had no choice but to deal with the secessionists.“Four years ago in the electoral campaign, Sánchez promised to search for Puigdemont in Waterloo and arrest him. He could not. It was absurd,” he said. “Months later he sat down at the negotiating table with us. It was because of political pressure, because he needed to govern his country.”On Sunday night, after the vote, he boiled his message down simply to “Either Catalonia or Vox.” But his party lost support, too, in Spaniards’ turn to the center.What a revival the Catalonia issue would mean now for Spain, the secessionists and Vox remains to be seen.Vox was established a decade ago when its leader, Santiago Abascal, split from the Popular Party, long a big center-right tent that included monarchists, libertarian supporters of same-sex marriage, ultraconservative Catholics and Spaniards who detested the independence movements of the north.The party believed in a unified Spain; however, overt expressions of that view — even waving the national flag — in the decades after the Franco regime were considered taboo signs of nationalism.But spurred by Catalonia’s push for independence, Vox was more than willing to cross that line. A surge of Spaniards followed it.The nationalists in Vox — who called for the Catalan movement to be put down by any means necessary — soaked up support. By the 2019 elections, they had grown to the third largest party in the country.In a short speech Sunday night after his party’s drubbing, a downcast Mr. Abascal acknowledged that Mr. Sánchez now had the support to block a new government, and could also be sworn in again with the support of the far-left and the separatist parties, or what he called “the support of communism, coup separatism and terrorism.”“We’re going to resist,” he insisted, saying that his party was prepared to be in the opposition or “repeat elections.”But analysts said new elections would likely only weaken Vox further. The leverage had shifted back to Catalonia, and more specifically to the more hard-line Together for Catalonia party, founded by Mr. Puigdemont.“We will not make Sánchez president in exchange for nothing,” Míriam Nogueras, a leader of the Together for Catalonia party, said at her headquarters Sunday night.Others in her party, who were pardoned by Mr. Sánchez, have suggested that further amnesties and a referendum on independence may be the price they demand.But left-wing politicians and locals wary of Vox worried that increased tension with Catalonia was exactly what the far right needed for a resurgence.“We want dialogue with Catalonia. We want an agreement. Go out and vote for dialogue, for an agreement, for a better Catalonia,” Yolanda Díaz, the leader of the hard-left Sumar party, which won 31 seats, told a rally in Barcelona on Friday night.Yolanda Díaz at a Sumar rally in Barcelona on Friday.Maria Contreras Coll for The New York TimesOn Monday, her party reached out to Mr. Puigdemont and the Together for Catalonia party to convince them to back the government.On the eve of Sunday’s election in Barcelona, along a main thoroughfare that was blanketed in Catalan flags during the 2017 protests, there was only one visible“The situation in Spain and the eruption of the extreme right is a consequence of what happened here in Catalonia,” said Joaquim Hernandez, 64.“By not having the referendum, you keep the tension and the confrontation that benefits the independence parties and Vox,” he said, “because Catalonia is unfortunately an argument that the nationalists use to win votes.”Rachel Chaundler More