Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said that the new session of the Catalan Parliament will begin on 17th January 2018, but this by no means will solve the ongoing political crisis in Catalonia. The announcement was made on Friday after discussions between Madrid and the parties in Catalonia. Despite whisperings of abstentionism, it is overwhelmingly likely that all pro-independence parties will take their seats and this will cause an ongoing headache for the Madrid government. The election solved nothing and now the prospects of a solution seem further away than ever. The ball is in Rajoy’s court.
In countries across the Western world policy-makers are looking to improve workers’ standard of living in the face of more globalised labour markets and pressure from corporate powers to do the reverse. In New Zealand the government has opted to support the people who generate the wealth of their society- the workers. The country’s Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway has announced that the minimum wage will be raised to 16.50 NZD an hour (11.60 USD), in a move expected to benefit 164,000 workers. Although the Ardern government may be in its early stages, this marks an important departure from the years of National Party rule and will hopefully set a tone for the next few years.
Elections to the Generalitat have thrown up a result that will only continue the ongoing political crisis. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy dissolved the Catalan parliament back in October by invoking Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. Regional elections were scheduled to take place as a result of this invocation and Rajoy hoped that this would undermine the ability of separatists to claim that they were acting on behalf of the Catalan people. The election results, however, have thrown a spanner in the works as the Catalan people have endorsed parties opposed to the status quo.
The United Nations General Assembly has convened an emergency session in New York to, among other things, vote on a motion tabled by Yemen and Egypt to condemn the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The result was expected to be overwhelming and so it was. The vote was 128 in favour, 9 in opposition and 35 abstentions. The 9 opposed were Guatemala, Israel, Nauru, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Palau, Togo, Honduras and the US. Countries that abstained included Argentina, Australia, Canada, Mexico and Poland. The vote matches the overwhelming vote of the UN Security Council on Monday that was vetoed by the United States. The fallout will be one to watch.
The Austrian Supreme Court has ruled that existing laws making provision for civil partnerships and civil marriages violate non-discrimination rules. As a consequence same-sex couples have been permitted to get married and heterosexual couples have been allowed to enter into civil partnerships. The court case was brought by a lesbian couple who had been prohibited from entering into a same-sex marriage, however the Supreme Court ruled that the distinction between civil unions and marriages couldn’t be legally upheld. According to Reuters, the court said in its ruling “people living in same-sex partnerships have to disclose their sexual orientation even in situations, in which it is not relevant”. The ruling will allow for same-sex marriages to take place from 2019.