On Foreign Policy, Inside Spain reports that US anti-missile warships will be based at Rota as part of a NATO-wide missile defence system in Europe: the agreement was announced on 5 October at NATO headquarters in Brussels by the Spanish Prime Minister, the US Defence Secretary and the NATO Secretary General. And the first Spanish soldier was killed by a sniper’s bullet in Afghanistan since Spain’s armed forces began serving with the NATO-led operation in January 2002. On the Domestic Scene the conservative Popular Party (PP) of Mariano Rajoy won a sweeping victory in the 20 November elections, scoring its best ever result. The socialists got their worst results since the return to democracy in 1975. The PP increased its number of seats in the lower house of parliament from 154 in 2008 to 186, giving it an absolute majority in the 350-seat Congress, while the socialists dropped from 169 to 110. The hard-line United Left (IU) increased its number of seats from two to 11, and Progress and Democracy Union (UPyD) won five seats, four more than in 2008. The other winner was Amaiur, a Basque left-wing coalition in favour of independence, which entered parliament with seven seats, two more than the more moderate Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). The PP is now firmly in control of Spain at the central, regional and local government levels, and also faces some key issues in the Basque Country as a result of the historic announcement last month by the Basque terrorist group ETA to end its violent struggle for independence of the Basque Country after killing, since 1959, more than 829 people. The Economy does not bring good news: the number of unemployed reached almost 5 million, more than double the EU-27 rate, despite a very good tourist season in the summer. And the European Banking Authority gave the five largest Spanish banks in terms of assets until next June to recapitalise themselves to the tune of €26.1 billion, one-quarter of the total amount in new capital demanded of 70 EU banks, or face restrictions on dividends and bonuses. On a brighter note, a dozen companies –including Talgo, RENFE, Indra and OHL– won a €6.7 billion contract to build and operate a high-speed railway, the largest ever international deal won by Spanish firms, on the Muslim pilgrim route between Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia. The high-speed lines will run trains at 320km an hour.
Our highlights include Robert S. Litwak, of the Woodrow Wilson Centre, who was in Madrid to participate in a Seminar on International Terrorism, writing on global terrorism and nuclear proliferation: ‘effective strategies on the state level are the prerequisite for meeting threats from non-state actors’, he argues, ending with the idea that ‘if successfully implemented, state-focused strategies will not end non-state threats, but they will take us far in achieving that ultimate goal’. Within our Europe area, the Institute’s analyst Alicia Sorroza looks at the economic and financial crisis in Europe and its effects on the changing map of the interests involved in the EU-China relationship. As part of the Energy Programme’s production, our last highlight examines the different emerging energy alternatives for the transport sector; the author, Heikki Willstedt Mesa, asks himself if the US and the EU are moving in different directions.
Also within International Terrorism, an ARI by Sam Mullins summarises the findings from a recent empirical study of all publicly-confirmed cases of Islamist terrorism involving Australians. The domestic situation of Australian Muslims is briefly described, followed by an overview of Islamist terrorism cases to date; also the background characteristics of offenders and details of radicalisation are discussed, followed by an examination of the national counter-terrorism strategy.
Lastly, back in our Europe area, the European Commission’s Progress Report on Turkey is described by İlke Toygür in her analysis as ‘following a ritual, since “progress” is not that visible’. And as part of a wider project on national and regional parliaments and the EU developed by the Manuel Giménez Abad Foundation, the Centre for Political and Constitutional Studies, the Ebert Foundation and the Real Instituto Elcano, we present a document by Daniel Ruiz de Garibay on the relationship between national parliaments and the European Parliament.
Finally, we would like to announce to our readers that, starting in January 2012, and replacing our monthly Newsletter and our monthly Boletín, we will produce and distribute a single publication that will present to our readers, once a month, the Institute’s recent production and news. You will receive the first issue of the new publication around mid-January; if you wish to unsubscribe, you will have a chance to do so at any time at: bbdd[@]rielcano.org.