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Spanish state: Forward Andalusia refounded as home of the Andalusist left

 

 

By Dick Nichols

July 21, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On June 26, in a theatre with a panoramic view of Granada’s Alhambra, the refoundation congress took place of Forward Andalusia, a political force with the ambition to be “an instrument for the emancipation of the Andalusian people” (words of newly elected spokesperson Teresa Rodríguez). The congress adopted three documents, on political line, feminism and organisation, completing a six-month-long reconstruction of Forward Andalusia as common home of the Andalusist left.

Launched last December by the coalition’s four affiliate organisations — Andalusian Spring (PA), Andalusist Left (IA), Defending Andalusia (DA) and Anticapitalists Andalusia — this process took the form of a “bottom-up” public discussion called “Andalusia Doesn’t Surrender!” Over 2000 participants across the eight provinces of Spain’s southernmost mainland region got involved in the exchange, which took place in 26 local organising centres. 

Andalusism 

Ten draft “commandments” guided the discussion, with the first laying the foundation for the rest: 

Andalusia is a nation and as such enjoys the right to govern itself in a free and sovereign way. Andalusism is the response of the Andalusian working class to its condition of subordination and economic, political, and cultural dependence. It is the political form taken in our land by the struggle for emancipation from capitalism.

According to the draft, Andalusism should be understood as a cultural and political liberation movement of Spain’s impoverished southern “periphery”, with its roots in the region’s historical confluence of different peoples (of Arabic, African, Spanish, Jewish, Roma and other descent). Generations of struggles — against aristocratic landlords, predatory mining and agribusiness capitalists and all forms of Spanish-state centralism — have forged Andalusism as popular, progressive, humanist, and inclusive.

Forward Andalusia’s “Andalusism for the 21st Century” sees itself as part of the Andalusist movement’s third wave. The first wave was associated with the name of Blas Infante, “father of the Andalusian nation” and author of The Andalusian Ideal (1915), who was murdered by the Francoists at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. Four well-known quotes give a feel for the spirit of Blas Infante’s work, which has echoes of Cuban independence leader José Martí’s identification of humanism and the struggle of the oppressed nation and its poorest people:

“The dismal sight of the rural day labourer (jornalero) has been burned into my consciousness since childhood. I have seen him bearing his hunger through the streets of the village, his misery fused with that of the winter afternoons.”

“My nationalism does not admit, rather it deems grotesque, the self-praise of a nation or an individual. My nationalism follows other paths: it is human before it is Andalusian.” 

“I believe that it is by birthplace that Nature points out to Life’s soldiers the location where they are to fight for her. I want to work for the Cause of the spirit in Andalusia because I was born there. Had I found myself elsewhere, I would fight for this Cause with equal fervour.”

“Here is the problem. Andalusia needs spiritual leadership, political orientation, an economic cure, a plan for culture, and a force that provides ministry and salvation.”

The second wave of Andalusism emerged with the struggle against the Franco dictatorship of the 1970s and the post-dictatorship transition. Its two high points were December 4, 1977, and February 28, 1980. On the first date between one-and-a-half and two million Andalusians took part in mass protests demanding that the region be granted a Statute of Autonomy, like the Basque Country (Euskadi) and Catalonia. During the protest, 19-year-old unionist Manuel José García Caparrós was gunned down by the police while planting the Andalusian flag on the Spanish government office in Málaga. While García Caparos has since been declared a “favourite son of Andalusia”, those responsible for his death — and the deaths of 300 others during the so-called transition to democracy — have never been brought to justice.

On February 28, 1980, a referendum proposal on whether to begin the process of developing a Statute of Autonomy under article 151 of the Spanish constitution was supported by 87% of those voting (participation 64.2%). February 28 is now the Day of Andalusia.

Forward Andalusia envisages that the third wave would combine Andalusism’s still unfulfilled demands, such as for land reform, with commitments to feminism and LGBTI+ rights, anti-racism, anti-fascism and internationalism, and ecological sustainability and food sovereignty. A powerful public sector would act as guarantor of universal social rights and as the heart of an economy that would overcome Andalusia’s chronic dependence on tourism, agribusiness and real estate, the root cause of its endemic poverty and inequality.

Forward Andalusia’s overarching political goal would be to bring an Andalusian constituent assembly into being to determine the country’s future. Meanwhile, the formation “would not participate in governments led by neoliberal forces, including the PSOE [Spanish Socialist Workers Party], yet never allow the right wing [People’s Party, Citizens and Vox] to govern.”

Given that Forward Andalusia is not independentist, this orientation would entail a radically democratic restructuring of the Spanish state and economy along federal or confederal lines, to be driven by collaboration between Andalusism and like-minded movements in Spain’s other regions.

Forward Andalusia — old and new

But why did Forward Andalusia need to be refounded? Basically, because Podemos Andalusia and the United Left in Andalusia (IU), two of the forces in the original Forward Andalusia created as an electoral alliance for the December 2018 Andalusian elections, had re-embraced the perspective of taking part in PSOE-led governments. 

The coalition went into the 2018 Andalusian elections pledged not to repeat IU’s painful experience as junior partner in the 2012-15 PSOE-led administration of the region. By 2020, Podemos and IU had abandoned this position, explicitly in the case of the Spanish state and implicitly for Andalusia. They also resisted Forward Andalusia operating as a fully autonomous organisation responsible only to its members in Andalusia.

At the end of 2019, the central Podemos leadership of former general secretary Pablo Iglesias reached an agreement for governing Spain with the PSOE. This accord, also supported by IU, was opposed by the Podemos Andalusia leadership, at the time headed by Teresa Rodríguez and Anticapitalists, then an internal Podemos current. However, the membership of Podemos Andalusia voted overwhelmingly to support participation in a plebiscite that was organised from central Podemos without time for presentation of alternatives or membership discussion. 

To resolve this contradiction, Teresa Rodríguez reached a public “amicable divorce settlement” with Iglesias: while resigning from the organisation’s leadership she and the other Podemos members elected to the Andalusian parliament on the Forward Andalusia ticket (11 out of 17) would retain their seats.

IU next began demanding that Forward Andalusia be removed from the Spanish interior ministry’s list of registered political parties (Anticapitalists and IU had previously registered the name to prevent theft by rivals). In the absence of any discussion of the coalition’s orientation in the new political context, Anticapitalists Andalusia and its two smaller Andalusist affiliates refused this request. They also pressed ahead with building Forward Andalusia as a party-movement open to people not belonging to the founding affiliates.

The tension between these positions erupted last October, when the IU minority in the Andalusian parliamentary caucus connived with the other parties to have the parliament’s speakership panel expel Rodríguez and seven other Forward Andalusia MPs from their own caucus. The grounds were their supposed “defection” from Podemos. They were then reclassified as “unassigned”, with a loss of parliamentary rights and resources.

To justify this coup, and to help those voting on the expulsions overcome fears that they might be violating the MPs’ constitutional rights (the opinion of the parliament’s lawyers), IU persuaded a majority of the Anti-Defection Pact of Spanish registered political parties to redefine “defection” to fit the Andalusian case. Elected representatives were now to be classified as “defectors” on the mere word of their party (for Andalusia, that of the new Podemos leadership), being banished into parliamentary limbo on its say-so. At the very least, IU enjoyed the acquiescence of the Iglesias leadership of Podemos in this operation.

IU also won strong backing from Citizens, which has been bleeding elected representatives to the PP since being reduced to a rump at the November 2019 Spanish general election. For its part, the PP, which governs Andalusia with Citizens, was happy enough to see Rodríguez and Co expelled. However, in June, with an increasing number of Citizens’ MPs in regional parliaments clamouring to get on board the PP as their own party foundered, the PP just walked away from the pact.

The expelled Forward Andalusia MPs appealed their expulsion to Spain’s Constitutional Court, which agreed in May to admit their case for hearing but denied them provisional reinstatement to their former caucus.

Regionalism rising

The refounding of Forward Andalusia responded to a deeply felt but frustrated impulse — the need for an autonomous Andalusian left force not subordinated to any Spain-wide organisation. Rodríguez described this frustration:

Now decisions as to what we’ll do will be taken 100% by the assemblies of Forward Andalusia. When we were Podemos Andalusia it would happen that we took certain decisions in assembly, which later could not be implemented because of prohibitions from further up the line. We will never again be an Andalusian point of reference for a [Spanish] State party.

Now, Rodríguez hoped, there would be “no more betrayals, no more splits, no more shit”.

The refounding of Forward Andalusia has taken place in a context dominated by the struggle between the Catalan right to self-determination and Spanish state unity, sacred for the Spanish establishment and for the PP, PSOE, Citizens and Vox. 

It comes after the vote for “nationalist” and “regionalist” forces — the so-called “Third Spain” — increased to a record level at the December 2019 general election. Next, in 2020 regional elections in the Basque Country (Euskadi) and Galicia (Galiza), several hundred thousand left-independentist voters deserted Podemos and IU — running together as Unidas Podemos (UP) — and overwhelmingly voted in favour of EH Bildu and the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG).

It also follows More Madrid, the green party set up by former Podemos leader Iñigo Errejón, becoming the lead left force in the May 4 Madrid regional election. Its all-Spanish spin-off More Country, which has been seeking collaboration arrangements with regional forces, has since been rising in the polls.

However, Andalusism, which enjoyed up to 10% support in the 1980-90s — with seats in the Andalusian, Spanish and even Catalan parliaments — has so far been the big exception to this trend, holding only one seat in Spain’s parliament. This is the position of Forward Andalusia senator Pilar González, the former leader of the Andalusist Party (PA). A junior partner to the PSOE in Andalusia’s government between 1996 and 2004, PA voted to dissolve in 2015 after years of paltry results due to the PSOE adopting some of its “Andalusism lite” décor (basically, more patriotic ceremonial and more flamenco).

In 2016, ex-members opposed to PA’s dissolution launched Andalusia By Itself (Andalucía Por Sí), This formation has eight mayoralties and some 100 local councillors, but has continued to produce PA’s poor results in Andalusian and Spanish elections. 

Greetings and resolutions

The greetings to the congress showed that many of Spain’s other regional forces judge that the anomaly of Andalusism’s near-zero presence in the Parliament of Andalusia and the Spanish congress might be ending with Forward Andalusia’s rebirth. They came from MPs of the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the People’s Unity List (CUP), Valencian vice-premier Monica Oltra (of the Valencian regionalist force Commitment), former Navarra premier Uxue Barkos (of the centre-left Navarran regionalist Geroa Bai), BNG leader Ana Pontón and representatives of regionalist parties in Aragon and the Canary Islands. Mónica Garcia, More Madrid’s lead candidate in the May 4 Madrid elections and Raúl Camargo of Anticapitalists’ confederal organisation also sent greetings.

The congress heard greetings from the full range of Andalusia’s trade union confederations — from the majority Workers Commissions (CCOO) and General Union of Workers (UGT) to the anarcho-syndicalist General Confederation of Labour (CGT) and the Andalusian Workers Union (SAT) — from social and environmental movements and various well-known cultural figures, as well as from the workers in struggle to prevent the closure of Airbus Industries factory in Puerto Real (Cadiz province). 

International greetings came from Portugal’s Left Bloc, the Polisario Front, the Hirak People’s Movement of the Rif, France’s New Anticapitalist Party and France Unbowed, Brazil’s Party of Socialism and Freedom and a member of Germany’s Die Linke.

Five reporters gave summaries of the three documents adopted (at the time of writing the documents are not publicly available). Speaking to the political resolution, José Ignacio García (“unassigned” MP in the Andalusian parliament) said that it was built on five guiding ideas:

1. To organise social conflict. Wherever there was a member of Forward Andalusia, he or she had to be “a beacon casting light on concerns so as to explain that individual problems require collective solutions”.

2. To build implantation. Forward Andalusia had to “reach into every corner of our land”.

3. To understand that Forward Andalusia cannot win alone: “against the 1% which daily expropriates the wealth created by the majority” it had to build alliances in Andalusia, Spain, and internationally.

4. There was no other organisation in Andalusia that was in opposition both to the Andalusian government and the central Spanish government. Forward Andalusia “must develop its programmatic alternative to both”, and:

5. There could be no Andalusism without a perspective of working-class emancipation.

The two speakers to the document on feminism stressed the depth of discrimination and sexism to which women in Andalusia are subject, and the need to create a feminism “that speaks with an Andalusian voice”.

The discussion of the refounded organisational principles appears to have been the most intense of all. According to the reporter, debate focussed on the core structure the organisation should have, given general acceptance that the assembly (mass-meeting) must be the basic decision-making nucleus. But at what level? Given Forward Andalusia’s still uneven development and the variegated character of Andalusia, should the local nucleus be shire-based, town-based or neighbourhood based? The document as amended allowed for flexibility in this choice.

The congress elected an interim coordinating body of two representatives per province that would meet monthly and from which a secretariat would be elected, but the discussion stressed that the supreme decision-making body would be the annual Andalusia-wide assembly. Other issues covered included the role and responsibilities of full-timers and elected representatives and limits on the terms of office of the latter.

Closing speech

In her closing speech, Teresa Rodríguez drew a parallel between flamenco as music of resistance of the Roma people against Spanish power and the spirit of Andalusia: its culture is “a weapon of resistance against neoliberal globalisation, and a shield against fascism which wants bullfighting and hunting to be put on the school syllabus while our children forget that Cordoba and Seville were for centuries cultural capitals of Europe…

“Our identity — mestizo, open, modern, libertarian and working-class — is a shield against the exclusionary, reactionary, freedom-destroying, elitist character of the rancid and backward Spanish patriotism of the extreme right.” Against oppressive Spanish chauvinism, Rodríguez counterposed not an Andalusian “fatherland” but an Andalusian “motherland” built upon the principle of care.

She also recalled the working-class and feminist roots of Andalusism — the brutally repressed 1888 strike against the Rio Tinto Company and the 1918 Malaga strike against price rises, led by women workers — to underline that Forward Andalusia had not “just arrived from Mars”.

Central to the speech was the rejection of the failed economic model of “sun, beach and brick” [real estate] which still forms the basis of the PP-PSOE consensus about where Andalusia’s comparative advantage lies: “It is a model that is predatory for our environment and ruinous for decent employment and affordable rents.” 

Calling for a “15M [indignados revolt] of the tourism sector” and stressing how the closure of Airbus Puerto Real was taking place even though Andalusia had more MPs in the Spanish congress than any other regions, Rodríguez insisted that this failure was because “we do not have a voice of our own”.

Against the spectre of environmental collapse (“which will affect the south more than the north”) Andalusia had to refuse to be the dumping ground for Spanish industry’s toxic waste and adopt a land reform that would make possible sustainable agriculture and decent jobs for rural workers (“irrespective of whether they are called María Carmen or Mahomed”).

Creating the alternative to social and environmental crisis had to be based on the understanding that “Andalusia has never had a process of industrialisation worthy of the name” and that only public, ecology-directed investment (a genuine Green New Deal) could transform the region’s economy.

The political battleground

The new Forward Andalusia is coming out onto a Spanish political playing field that will present it with big challenges.

Most immediately, Podemos and IU are intent on throttling any chance of the organisation leading a left Andalusist revival. A legal challenge against any electoral use of the name Forward Andalusia has been threatened by IU spokesperson Inmaculada Nieto, even as IU itself has asked the Andalusian parliament to allow it to drop the name for what remains of the Forward Andalusia caucus — its own six-members — changing it to “Unidas Podemos for Andalusia” (this was announced as the new name of the IU-Podemos coalition on February 28, Day of Andalusia).

As for the political battlelines, IU Andalusia coordinator Toni Valero gave an indication of what to expect in the July 5 El Independiente:

We call them the Andalusia-style CUP because Teresa’s project is one with a clearly nationalist profile very restricted to minority milieus. What she’s putting forward draws a lot from a nationalism whose key is confrontation with Madrid. This David-versus-Goliath dynamic is a classic, with a touch of idealism and fantasy.

The next Andalusian elections will provide an acid test of whether the hundreds of thousands of Andalusians who vote to the left of the PSOE can be induced to see Forward Andalusia the way Valero wants them to, or whether they will see it as a banner of resistance and hope. 

The big plus for IU in this fight is its extensive implantation at the local government level, heritage of the years of anti-Francoist resistance of the Communist Party of Andalusia (PCA), IU’s leading affiliate. The most recent evidence of the usefulness of this machine was the September 20, 2020 petition of 800 elected representatives organised by IU in support of its version of events within Forward Andalusia. 

If polling to date can be trusted, the new Forward Andalusia starts behind UP in the struggle for the left-of-PSOE vote. According to the Centre of Andalusian Studies June election barometer, UP would win 9.2% of the vote and 9-10 seats in the 109-seat Parliament of Andalusia, while Forward Andalusia would win 3.6% and only 0-2 seats.

IU tactics in the fight to keep Forward Andalusia marginal will follow the line and tone of Valero’s comment, combined with insistence on the need for a “useful vote” against the right. UP’s main problem will be to discredit a Forward Andalusia election platform that was its own for the 2018 poll and, if the Constitutional Court brings down an unfavourable finding in time, to spin its squalid operation to “reclassify” the Forward Andalusia caucus majority.

Teresa Rodríguez downplays the legal confrontation and continues to insist on the underlying political differences, telling the online daily Vivaestepona on July 5:

Actually, we want to get out of the conflict dynamic. If they want to continue locked into the legal business, good luck to them. What we would like is to be able to debate with UP about the problems that arise when you govern with the PSOE or the importance of Andalusia having a voice of its own.

Strategy against Spanish centralism

Forward Andalusia has a confederal vision of how Spain should be restructured as a plurinational state. The question then arises of how to move from the present political scene, marked most of all by the conflict between the Spanish establishment and the Catalan struggle for self-determination, to the goal of a confederal Spain (or Iberia, if the Portuguese would want to join such a process)? What path, what alliances will bring that horizon closer? Who are its friends and enemies?

Fundamental, of course, is unconditional recognition by all nations in the Spanish state of each other’s right to self-determination, irrespective of the economic, social and political differences among them (economic and political weight of elites, degree of use of local language, degree of independence sentiment) and irrespective, too, of any “traditional enmities” or jealousies cultivated by Spanish-patriotic centralism. This is the case, to take two examples, with Euskadi’s and Navarra’s envied special taxation arrangement, with the central government, and the Valencian Country’s and Aragon´s supposed dislike of all things Catalan.

Essential, too, is acceptance of the principle of respect by all for the demands of each nation or region, and of the principle that it alone should vote on any proposal that affects it. This is especially the case because Spain’s various “peripheral” political formations each have a different program of demands in relation to the Spanish state, ranging from increasing funding, to federal or confederal restructuring, to a Scottish-style referendum allowing the chance of independence.

Obviously, if a political force representing a nation or region denies any one of these principles, it automatically becomes a potential ally of Spanish centralism, manipulable with special favours against another people seeking to exercise its right to decide its relation to Spain. 

The Spanish state and its government of the day uses its resources to play a permanent game of divide-and-rule in relation to the demands of “the regions” and “the periphery”. The war operates on two fronts: in favour of the predominant all-Spanish parties (PP and PSOE) against the regionalist-nationalist bloc taken as a whole, and within that bloc in favour of those forces just looking to get a better deal from “Madrid” against those espousing sovereignty and independence.

Since everyone, including pro-sovereignty and pro-independence forces, is always seeking more funds for their region, opportunities to set one region against another are permanent. At the present time, with the Catalan independence movement still undefeated, the PP leading in Spain-wide opinion polls and €140 billion in Next Generation EU funds becoming available for the so-called “ecological and digital transition”, the PSOE-led Spanish government is set to play this game with unprecedented intensity. Its main calculation is where each euro should best be invested to: (1) undermine the pro-independence majority in Catalonia; (2) recover the PSOE’s majority over the PP in Andalusia; and (3) convince enough voters across the state that the PSOE has a better project for Spain than the right.

To take a salient example: should the electric car batteries plant envisaged for Spain go to Catalonia (where the car construction will take place), Extremadura (where the lithium for the batteries will be mined), or to Andalusia (to compensate for the impending closure of Airbus Puerto Real and to help the local PSOE win back votes lost to the PP)?

What alliances?

For more than three decades after the end of the Franco dictatorship, the basic alliance for any Spanish government depending on support from one or more regional forces was to rely on the “good” Catalans of the conservative nationalist Convergence and Union (CiU) against the “bad” Basques, tainted by the military terrorist operations of Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA). 

Those roles flipped with the rise of the mass movement for Catalan sovereignty and independence, culminating in the October 1, 2017 Catalan independence referendum, a political earthquake that continues to shape Spanish politics. This was especially visible in the months before and after the referendum. In a June 22, 2017 Spanish Congress vote calling on the then-PP government to respect the results of the October 1 referendum, the Canary Island parties either opposed or abstained (the vote was lost 92 to 250). 

Then, after the referendum, the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), ruling in Euskadi and trying to act as mediator between the Catalan government of premier Carles Puigdemont and the central Spanish government of prime minister Mariano Rajoy, pressured the Puigdemont government not to make its October 27, 2017 declaration of independence. By 2019, the PNV had broken completely with the Puigdemont-led Together for Catalonia (JxCat), which insisted on the legitimacy of October 1 and the need to preserve the unilateral option for achieving Catalan independence. The PNV transferred its allegiance to the Catalan European Democratic Party (PDECat), only to see it wiped out in the February Catalan election.

Inevitably, the regionalist and independentist parties in the Spanish state tend to ally according to their positions on the left-to-right social axis, producing the now-dead alliance between the PNV and the Catalan conservatism of CiU, or the alliances for European elections between the ERC, BNG and EH Bildu. However, such affinities cannot determine the attitude of any democratic force to the struggle for the right to self-determination nor, most crucially and immediately, to the Catalan movement, present vanguard of that struggle.

In her closing address, Teresa Rodríguez said at one point that Forward Andalusia stood for the struggle of those of the “South” against those of the “North”. This point had been made in a comical way before the congress in a promotional video in which four Andalusians — a waiter, a student, a country woman and a pensioner — spoke as if they were from Madrid and as if it were Madrid and not Andalusia that was the peripheral and deindustrialised region, waiting for essential infrastructure and peopled by folkloric characters whose accent was the butt of jokes in the rest of Spain.

Such was the storm of reaction on social networks that Rodríguez made a clarification in an interview in the June 28 edition of el diario.

These things sometimes happen, you make a mistake and express things badly. It isn’t a small mistake. I got the preposition [against] wrong, but the issue is important. What I wanted to put on the table is that in addition to the left-right distinction and that which 15M brought us — those above versus those below — the north-south distinction also exists. And, in fact, in the norths there are also souths. There’s a north-south distinction that is not merely geographic but more socioeconomic, geostrategic and centre-periphery. These contradictions exist and as such they have to be faced and addressed. They are not those of the people of the south versus those of the north. In my speech I got drawn into a badly constructed analogy.

Nonetheless, in her Vivaestepona interview, in response to the interviewer’s remark that “Madrid makes the news, but Catalonia sets the political agenda”, Teresa Rodríguez said:

We call it Madrilonia. We are close to a new deal of elites, in this case the Spanish and Catalan elites, who are putting their money on an asymmetric federalism. It’s a solution that’s of no use to us. In fact, when it was proposed [in 1977] before the approval of the Constitution, the Andalusian people came out onto the streets to say that we wanted to be treated the same way. In this case, we must again put on the table that we have no use for an agreement that ends the Catalan conflict by way of more resources and a special relationship, without proposing at the general level a kind of democratic confederation process, that would be reasonable, a constituent process at all levels that would give voice to the rest of the State’s peoples to defend our legitimate demands.

There is little doubt that a sizeable body of Catalan big business is pressuring for the “territorial conflict” with the Spanish state to be resolved by having the Spanish PSOE-UP government offer Catalonia a deal on resources and transfer of powers that is “too good to refuse”. The goal is to pressure the ERC-Junts coalition Catalan government, despite being committed to negotiating an independence referendum, to either accept this sort of deal as best achievable or to split, forcing an early election on the issue.

In any case, given continuing Spanish state denial of the Catalan right to self-determination, the strategy of the PSOE-UP government will be to build up such pressure with the goal of “persuading” a large enough slice of the Catalan population to resign itself to the deal. Hundreds of thousands will be required to adopt the viewpoint that “there is no alternative” and that persisting along the road to independence would be impossibly uncertain and difficult. The “referendum” offered would be to accept or reject such a deal, with no mention of independence.

However, according to all polling, 75-80% of Catalans want to be able to vote on whether their country should be independent. The more they feel that this right is actively supported by the other peoples of the Spanish state, including from Andalusia, the greater the chance of them rejecting the “asymmetric federalism” that the deal would represent, and which Teresa Rodríguez criticises.

More critically still, keeping the Catalan movement alive and fighting is the only way that there is any chance of bringing closer the horizon of a confederal structure for Spain. If the Spanish establishment gets away with “solving” the Catalan conflict along PSOE lines, it will have no incentive whatsoever to reopen the territorial debate. It will only consider a genuine federal or confederal solution — in which each nation gets to vote on the proposals that affect it — if it concludes this is as an unavoidable lesser evil, if it faces the loss of Catalonia and even Euskadi.

Hopefully, the new Forward Andalusia, born of an enthusiastic refoundation congress, will set an inspiring example of building solidarity and strong ties with all peoples whose right to self-determination is being denied by the Spanish-chauvinist establishment and its parties. 

Dick Nichols is European correspondent of Green Left. An initial version of this article has appeared on its web site. Readers with Spanish can follow the proceedings of the congress here (opening session) and here (closing session).

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