Madrid (EFE) – Spain’s acting head of government and socialist leader, Pedro Sánchez, seems to remain confident about his renewed inauguration. He refuses to meet with the president of the conservative Popular Party (PP), Alberto Núñez Feijóo, until the Spanish Congress is constituted on 17 August, and King Felipe VI proposes who should form the government.

Sánchez communicated his stance in a reply to a letter sent on Sunday by Feijóo, in which he asked to meet with Sánchez next week to discuss and avoid a political “blockade and the ungovernability” of Spain. The socialist leader not only rejected a meeting, but also reminded Feijóo of the deadlines set by the Spanish Constitution for forming a government.

The Socialists don’t believe Núñez Feijóo is able to form a government. If Feijóo takes steps to do so before the king calls for consultations, the sources consulted by EFE assure that Sánchez will not stand in the way of Felipe VI’s decision to propose him as a candidate. Crucial to this decision would be the time frame, because if two months pass without anyone being inaugurated, parliament will be dissolved and a new ballot will be held. (30 July)

German right-wing AfD candidates want to make Europe a “fortress”

Magdeburg (dpa) – German right-wing party AfD has filled the top spots on its list of candidates for the European elections with politicians who want to turn Europe into a “fortress” against migrants. This was needed “to protect our homeland, and we are doing this together with our European partners,” said party co-leader Alice Weidel at the party’s European Election Assembly in the East German city of Magdeburg on Saturday. According to the President of Germany’s domestic intelligence service, Thomas Haldenwang, “right-wing extremist conspiracy theories” were spread at the event.

Saxon MEP Maximilian Krah was elected as the top candidate with 65.7 percent approval. His candidacy was also supported by the party’s far-right camp. Krah is considered controversial within the AfD. In the European Parliament, the right-wing group Identity and Democracy (ID), suspended him for three months at the beginning of the year, due to an allegation that Krah had manipulated the parliamentary group’s awarding of a PR contract. Krah accused his internal party opponents of having waged an anonymous smear campaign against him for months. The lawyer has been a member of the European Parliament since 2019.

Haldenwang told German press agency dpa that while it was true that the list of candidates and the election program had not yet been finally voted on, “it is already clear that people who have stood out in the past with positions that are not compatible with our liberal democratic constitution will be part of the AfD delegation in the upcoming European Parliament.” Haldenwang added that “so far, the AfD’s European Election Assembly, which we are handling as a suspicious case, once again proves our assessment that there are strong anti-constitutional tendencies within the party, whose influence continues to increase.”

The AfD Federal Executive Committee wants to elect a total of at least 30 candidates. The top 15  were filled by Sunday evening, after which the European Election Assembly was halted and is to be continued next Friday. The election program will only be decided after the lists have been drawn up.

It is possible that the program will only be discussed at an additional meeting, which would have to take place in January at the latest. Only then will it become clear whether the AfD will demand to radically reform the European Union so that more decisions will be taken at a national level again. However, the “Dexit” camp, which advocates Germany leaving the EU, could also prevail. Another point of contention is likely to be the stance on NATO.

The “Solidarity Magdeburg” alliance protested against the AfD meeting in Magdeburg on Saturday. (30 July)

Belgium does not suspend development aid to Niger, but stops military cooperation

Brussels (Belga) – Unlike France and the European Union, Belgium will not suspend development aid to Niger, Minister of Development Cooperation Caroline Gennez said in a radio programme on Sunday. “We support the local population in terms of development cooperation. Our projects are about education for girls, about sustainable agriculture, about health care,“ the minister said.

This is in contrast to France and the EU, among others, who directly supported Niger’s government. The total budget is 65 million euros, to be invested in livestock, public health, education and climate from 2022.

Belgium also cooperated with the military of Niger. For example, Belgian soldiers trained some of the local forces to assist them in the fight against jihadists. However, that cooperation will be suspended, Gennez emphasized.

On Wednesday, a coup took place in Niger, ousting democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoum from power. General Abdourahamane Tchiani proclaimed himself the new leader. After Mali and Burkina Faso, Niger is the third Sahel country to experience a coup since 2020. (30 July)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.