What We’re Watching: Canada freezes protesters’ assets, Spanish right in turmoil
Canadian protesters see accounts frozen. Authorities have started blocking accounts of people linked to Canada’s trucker convoy and protests in accordance with the Emergencies Act invoked last week by PM Justin Trudeau. Royal Canadian Mounted Police froze more than 200 financial products, including bank and corporate accounts, linked to vaccine mandate protesters who have brought chaos to Ottawa and US border crossings in recent weeks. Opposition leaders and a Canadian civil rights group question the legality of the move, which Trudeau says is necessary for restoring order. American truckers and President Joe Biden, meanwhile, will be watching closely as a similar convoy gets underway in the US this week. Plans are reportedly in place to set up perimeter fencing around the US Capitol building ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1 for fear of similar protests plaguing the nation’s capital.
Spanish conservatives implode. Spain’s center-right Popular Party was on an upswing in May 2021 after obliterating the left in Madrid’s regional election. But thanks to a messy public fight between the PP’s somewhat unpopular leader and the Madrid regional president, who controls the base, the party has seen those gains wiped away in recent polls. Who benefited? The far-right Vox Party, which could now be on the cusp of overtaking the PP as the main opposition party in the eyes of Spanish voters. Vox’s big boss Santiago Abascal, who recently played host to fellow EU far-right leaders such as Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán and French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen, increasingly sees himself as Spain’s next leader. Could the PP get relegated to junior coalition partner? Such a move would trigger a political earthquake in the last Western European country to overthrow a far-right dictatorship (in 1975), currently run by a fragile leftwing coalition government backed by Basque and Catalan separatists. Buckle up for turbulent months ahead in Spanish politics.