The Soapbox: No-confidence motion in Spain, judicial changes in Israel, potential ban in EU

The Soapbox is a weekly column by WSN covering major news developments at NYU’s campuses and study away sites abroad. Global consciousness for a global university.


Susan Behrends Valenzuela

The Soapbox is a weekly news column rounding up stories worth reading for a global university. (Staff Illustration by Susan Behrends Valenzuela)

Yezen Saadah, News Editor

In Spain, government votes against no-confidence motion

On Wednesday, the Spanish parliament, led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, dismissed a no-confidence motion tabled against it by the far-right Vox party. Vox announced the motion, which would have removed Sánchez from power, in December 2022 after the government reformed sedition and embezzlement laws. The reforms aimed to retain support from Catalans following Catalonia’s secession push in 2017.

The no-confidence motion was defeated 201-53, with 91 abstentions. Vox leader Santiago Abascal chose Ramón Tamames, an independent candidate, to serve as an alternative prime minister in the case of a successful vote. On Wednesday, Tamames pledged that his first act as prime minister would have been to call for a national election on May 28, coinciding with the country’s local elections.

Sánchez called Vox’s “bizarre” attempt to overthrow the government a “flop,” claiming that the only goal of the motion was “to push Spain back 50 years,” according to the Associated Press. He also condemned the country’s conservative Popular Party — which made up the 91 abstentions from the vote — for not voting against the motion, while the party’s parliamentary spokesperson, Cuca Gamarra, said the abstention was a gesture of respect.

Before the vote, parliament members debated Vox’s motion on Tuesday and Wednesday. During these discussions, Vox politicians also criticized the government’s sexual consent law reform — which closed a legal loophole reducing convicted rapists’ sentences — with Abascal, the Vox leader, calling the nation’s ruling coalition “the worst government in its history.” Abascal also said he was “worried” by the Popular Party’s abstention during the vote since the party also voted against Vox’s previous no-confidence motion in 2020, according to The Guardian.

Although Vox lost its no-confidence vote, Abascal said the party was still successful.

“We’ve accomplished our mission,” Abascal said to The Guardian. “There were more than enough reasons for this vote of no confidence, but political and electoral calculations weren’t among them.”

In Israel, protests continue as the government begins judicial overhaul

The Israeli government approved legislation that will make it more difficult to oust a prime minister on Thursday, with 61 out of 108 legislative members voting in favor of the new law. 

An Israeli jurist voiced concerns that the change was put forward to protect the position of current prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the face of corruption trials, according to Reuters. Netanyahu was indicted for bribery and fraud after a three-year investigation in 2019. His trial is still ongoing, and he has denied all allegations against him.

Protesters have criticized Netanyahu, who was re-elected as prime minister last November in Israel’s fifth election in nearly four years — along with his far-right government — calling the coalition the most extreme in the country’s history.

After Thursday’s vote, thousands of Israeli citizens, including Israeli military personnel, organized demonstrations against the government. Israel’s allies, including the United States, also expressed concern over Neyanyahu’s justice system overhaul.

The new law also states that Gali Baharav-Miara, Israel’s attorney general, no longer has the power to deem Netanyahu unfit for office. Right-wing opposition groups are worried over the judiciary’s ability to overturn government decisions, as well as its left-wing bias against minority groups, according to Middle East Eye. 

In Germany, government deliberates EU plan to ban CO2-emitting cars

The German government has expressed concern about the European Union’s plan to allow sales of new cars with internal combustion engines, so long as they only run on climate-neutral fuels. The proposal references a planned law set to ban the sale of new carbon dioxide-emitting cars by 2035. Manufacturers also fear the European Union’s plan could result in the loss of 26 to 46 million electric car sales and the burning of 135 billion more liters of fossil petrol by 2050. 

Germany’s pro-business Free Democratic Party argues that even with the change to the plan, restrictions on CO2-emitting cars will destroy German manufacturing industries. The party believes the change will force automakers and businesses to manufacture completely new engines, potentially causing harm to the industry. It also claims that “some of the questions around climate-neutral mobility remain unanswered.”

Climate advocates like clean transportation NGO Transport & Environment, however, told the Guardian that the changed proposal will “derail the decarbonisation of the new fleet while allowing more conventional oil to be used in the existing fleet post-2035: a win-win for Big Oil.”

Germany’s Green Party was the only one in parliament’s three-party governing coalition to stand against the policy change.

“You can’t have a coalition of progress where only one party is in charge of progress and the others try to stop the progress,” Germany’s vice-chancellor, Robert Habeck, said to the Guardian.

Contact Yezen Saadah at [email protected].