Spain

Spanish state: How and why the Rajoy government fell

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

June 5, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On June 1, the Spanish government of the ruling People’s Party (PP) of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy fell to a no-confidence motion brought against it in the 350-seat Spanish congress by the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), led by its federal secretary Pedro Sánchez.

 

The vote was 180 to 169 with one abstention. This result installed Sánchez as the new prime minister of Spain. It was the first time since a multiparty-system replaced the Francisco Franco dictatorship 40 years ago that a no-confidence motion has succeeded.

 

Key to the final result was the decision of the conservative Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), governing the Basque Autonomous Community (Euskadi), to support the PSOE motion. Without its five votes the motion would have been lost because an absolute majority of 176 was needed for its adoption. Previously, the two Catalan nationalist parties with a presence in the Congress — the centre-left Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the conservative nationalist Catalan European Democratic Party (PDECat) — had flagged their support.

 

'If we stop, the world stops': Behind the millions-strong women’s strike that shook the Spanish state

 

 

By Julian Coppens and Dick Nichols

 

March 20, 2018 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On an International Women’s Day (IWD) in which demonstrations took place in an unprecedented 177 countries, the Spanish state stood out as the place where the mobilisation for women’s equality was biggest — at least five million, the greatest mobilisation for women’s rights in history. Why?

 

There are many causes. To begin with, the #MeToo campaign of women film stars, media personalities and political figures coming out against sexual harassment by creeps in positions of power had a big impact in Spain, where machismo is all-pervasive. Yet that campaign wouldn’t by itself have produced the explosion of protest from women of all generations and all walks of life that took place in 120 cities and towns across the peninsula on March 8.

 

This was the biggest Spanish mobilisation of women ever, and on an oceanic scale that recalled the May 15, 2011 protests and square occupations that launched the indignado movement and made it such a potent factor in politics.

 

Three central issues facing the Catalan independence movement

 

 

Introduction and translation by Richard Fidler

 

March 16, 2018
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the LeftAlthough parties supporting Catalonia’s independence from the Spanish monarchy won a majority of deputies in the autonomous community’s December 21 election, they have been unable to elect a Generalitat, or government, due in part to internal disagreements but primarily to blockages by the Spanish government and its courts.

 

A major obstacle is the fact that prominent leaders of the pro-independence forces are either imprisoned — four, including ANC leader Jordi Sànchez and ERC leader Oriol Junqueras, facing their 150th night in jail — or in European exile: former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont and four of his former ministers, as well as former CUP leader Anna Gabriel.

 

Spain’s ‘transition to democracy’ as a passive revolution

 

 

By Doug Enaa Greene

 

March 10, 2018 — 
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — After decisively defeating the Second Spanish Republic in 1939, the triumphant dictatorship of Francisco Franco presided over a regime of unbridled state terror, concentration camps and murder. Resistance survived during the long years of repression, but Franco was never beaten. By the time of Franco's death in 1975, the bourgeoisie recognized that fundamental reform was needed to deal with a militant labor movement, the leftist opposition and a mounting economic crisis. To that end, the post-Franco government began a process of “liberalization.” However, the Spanish bourgeoisie would not have been able to make the transition from fascism to a constitutional monarchy without the willing collaboration of the left-wing parties who renounced any other alternative in the interests of “national reconciliation.”

 

Catalan election shapes up as Europe’s critical battle for democracy

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

November 10, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On November 2, judge Carmen Lamela of Spain’s National High Court—direct descendant of the Franco-era Court of Public Order—took the war of the Spanish state against the Catalan pro-independence government to a new level of judicial violence.

 

It was not enough that Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, the two leaders of the Catalan mass pro-independence organisations the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Catalan cultural and language association Omnium Cultural, were already in jail. It was not enough that the Catalan government had been sacked on October 27 under article 155 of the Spanish constitution.

 

Now the deposed ministers had to be humiliated: facing charges of rebellion (up to 30 years jail), sedition (up to 15 years jail) and misuse of public moneys, eight of the ministers were sent into preventive detention supposedly to prevent them destroying evidence and fleeing the Spanish state.

 

Catalonia braces to resist Spanish state war on its self-rule

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

The Spanish People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has decided to impose direct rule on Catalonia under article 155 of the Spanish constitution. This clause allows the central government to take over the powers of a regional government if it “does not carry out its constitutional and legal obligations or acts in a way that seriously damages Spain’s general interest".

 

Rajoy announced the package enforcing the intervention on Saturday, October 21. The main measures are: sacking Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont, deputy premier and treasurer Oriol Junqueras and all other ministers and having their departments run from Madrid; prohibiting the Catalan parliament from appointing any replacement Catalan premier or adopting any legislation unacceptable to the Spanish government; and holding elections when the Catalan political and social situation has "normalised", in six months at most.

 

Spanish state to Catalonia: 'Surrender or we'll take you over'

 

 

A meeting of one of the many local Committees to Defend the Referendum t
hat have sprouted up across Catalonia.

 

By Dick Nichols

 

October 16, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Catalonia’s Premier Carles Puigdemont officially declared an independent Catalan republic on October 10, only to announce the immediate suspension of independence to allow for negotiations with the conservative Spanish People’s Party (PP) government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The declaration of independence formalised the result of the October 1 referendum held under extreme police repression: in it 90% of those voting (43% of the electorate) said ‘Yes’ to independence.

 

The harsh reply from Madrid came two days later: Catalonia had to abandon all thought of secession or see its self-rule erased under article 155 of the Spanish constitution. The Catalan government was formally notified by fax that it had until 10am Monday, October 16 to make clear whether it had declared independence or not and, if it had, until 10 am Thursday, October 19 to abandon independence and "return within the framework of the constitution".

 

Moreover, only a clear written Yes or No would be accepted--"any statement different from a simple negative or affirmative reply will be considered as affirmative."

 

The fight for independence in Catalonia: What lessons for Quebec?

 

 

‘We are the grandchildren of the grandparents you bashed' October 3 demonstration 
outside the Spanish National Police headquarters in Barcelona

 

Introduction by Richard Fidler

 

October 16, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — Following the October 1 referendum in Catalonia — held in the face of massive repression resulting in hundreds of injured — the people shut down production and massed in cities and towns across the autonomous state on October 3 to protest the Spanish government’s attempt to deny them the elementary democratic right to vote on their constitutional and political future.

 

Catalan referendum: a ‘democratic tsunami’ rises against Spanish state siege

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

September 24, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The most critical week in modern Catalan history began today, September 24. With one week to go to the October 1 referendum on independence, the battle lines in what will be a decisive clash have formed. On the one side, the 80% of Catalan people who support their right to decide their country’s future; on the other, the 10,000 Spanish National Police and paramilitary Civil Guard charged with stopping the October 1 vote.

 

Since the middle of last week, the two sides have been engaged in intensifying skirmishes that will end in one of three scenarios: the humiliation of the central Spanish government of People’s Party (PP) prime minister Mariano Rajoy (if the Catalan majority manages to vote); a setback for the movements for Catalan sovereignty and independence (if the police operation succeeds in closing polling stations); or a confused outcome due to some people getting into polling centres while others are kept outside by the “forces of order”.

 

Catalonia referendum: resisting the Spanish government siege

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

September 20, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In 1713-14, it took the troops of Spain’s Borbon monarchy 14 months of siege before taking Barcelona and ending Catalan self-rule. In September 2017, Catalonia is again under siege, this time from the central Spanish People’s Party (PP) government.

 

Under prime minister Mariano Rajoy the Spanish state is concentrating all its firepower on stopping the Catalan government’s October 1 independence referendum. On that day, if this siege is successfully resisted, Catalan citizens will vote on whether “Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic”.

 

Since September 6, the day its parliament adopted its referendum law, Catalonia has experienced a “shock and awe” offensive aimed at forcing the pro-independence government of premier Carles Puigdemont to submit to the central Spanish administration. The adoption of the law by the parliamentary majority of 62 Together For The Yes (JxSí) and 10 People’s Unity List (CUP) MPs was the culmination of an eight-year process that has seen over one million people mobilise every Catalan National Day since 2012.

 

The Catalan national struggle and the left in the Spanish state—a dossier

 

 

 

Introduction and translations by Dick Nichols

 

September 10, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The June 9 decision of Catalonia’s pro-independence Together For The Yes (JxSí) government to hold a referendum on whether the country should become “an independent state in the form of a republic” has created a raft of differences within the Catalan and all-Spanish left. The decision came after all efforts at a negotiating a Scottish-style referendum with the Spanish government had come to naught.[1]

 

Besides the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and its regional affiliates, nearly all left currents in Spain support the right to self-determination of the peoples of the Spanish State[2]: they differ, however, over how that right should be concretely exercised.

 

Catalonia terror attacks: 500,000 march for tolerance as Spanish establishment blames independence movement

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

September 4, 2017
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal After the August 17-18 terror attacks on Barcelona’s Rambla and in the seaside town of Cambrils, the half-million-strong march in the Catalan capital on August 26 expressed the profound desire in Catalan society to stay tolerant, open and un-militarised in the face of the terrorist threat. But it expressed more than that.

 

The struggle for Catalan independence: an interview with People’s Unity List (CUP) joint national spokesperson Quim Arrufat

 

 

August 7, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Born in the rural Seu d’Urgell in 1982, People’s Unity List (CUP) joint national spokesperson Quim Arrufat became a well-known and respected figure in Catalan politics during his time as one of the CUP’s first three MPs in the Catalan parliament (2012-2015).

 

In an October 2012 interview with the Catalan web site Vilaweb, he described his organisation, which is committed to Catalan independence and socialism, as “urban Zapatistas”.

 

Spain: Debate erupts in Podemos around agreement to join PSOE government

By Dick Nichols

August 6, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On September 26 last year, José García Molina, the secretary-general of Podemos in the central Spanish autonomous community (state) of Castilla-La Mancha, announced that his party’s agreement keeping the regional Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government in office had «died of disappointment and shame».

According to García Molina, the agreement had expired «waiting for one of its signatories to breathe life and inspiration into it, waiting for justice to be done to what had been presented and signed, but most of all it died from shame at realising some people’s lack of commitment to their promises and undertakings.» This was despite the Castilla-La Mancha government’s claim that of the 72 points agreed with Podemos as a basis for its support, 49 had been completed and 19 were in the process of being implemented.

Basque leader Arnaldo Otegi: 'Independence will provide us with the tools for advancing alternative social policies'

 

 

 

 

 

Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (or ETA, “Basque Homeland and Freedom”) a Basque independence movement on April 8 put a definitive end to its campaign of establishing an independent socialist Basque state through armed struggle. In a statement bearing the organisation’s seal and initials, the group declared itself a disarmed organisation, praising the work of Basque civil society and existing Basque institutions in supporting the peace process, while condemning the Spanish and French authorities for what they perceived to be “stubbornness” in not allowing the group to lay down its weapons. 

 

 

 

Showdown in Catalonia: Can the independence referendum actually happen?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

June 26, 2017
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Nothing alarms Spain’s establishment more than the prospect of the unity of the Spanish state being threatened by the desire for self-determination of the peoples that live within its borders. “Spain: One, Great and Free” — the catchcry of the Francisco Franco dictatorship (1939-1975) — is still the guiding principle and ruling emotion of this elite, even under the regionalised “state of autonomies” created by the 1978 post-dictatorship constitution.

 

This reality explains why prime minister Mariano Rajoy, head of the People’s Party (PP) government, announced at its inauguration on August 30 last year that “Spain’s most serious challenge” is the possibility of secession by Catalonia. So the June 9 announcement by Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont of the date and question of his government’s promised referendum on Catalonia’s future relation with Spain inevitably had the Madrid establishment media (dubbed “the cavern” in progressive circles) in a frenzy.

 

Spain: Socialist Party leader’s shock rebirth unnerves establishment

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 31, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The plan had seemed so well organised. Its first stage was successfully executed on October 1 last year when the ruling elite in the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) got the party’s 250-strong Federal Political Committee (FPC) to force the resignation of general secretary Pedro Sánchez (see account here).

 

Sánchez’s crime had been his refusal, after the inconclusive June 26 general election last year, to allow the formation of a minority People’s Party (PP) government through PSOE abstention. He had also proposed to have this refusal put to the PSOE membership for endorsement and to have a new primary for the position of general secretary.

 

New Catalan political space: one hurdle cleared on the road to left unity

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 7, 2017 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –– The struggle to build a Catalan political force inspiring the level of support and activism needed to implement radical social change took a step forward in Barcelona on April 8, when the new “political subject” provisionally called Un País en Comú (“A Country Together”) held its founding congress.

 

Un País en Comú, whose final name will be decided by membership referendum, is the third Catalan progressive unity project with en comú (“together” or “in common”) in its title. The first, in June 2014, was the broad activist coalition that under the name of Barcelona En Comú won the May 2015 Barcelona city council election. In defeating the ruling conservative nationalist Convergence and Union (CiU) the new formation made former housing rights activist Ada Colau the city’s mayoress and a reference point for radical politics across the Spanish state.

 

Catalonia: What Un País en Comú stands for

 

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 7, 2017 
–– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –– This appendix to the article “New Catalan political space: one hurdle cleared on the road to left unity” tries to summarise the essential content of the first draft of Un País en Comú.

 

Spanish state: big issues for Podemos left unresolved by congress

 
 

By Dick Nichols

March 11, 2017 Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal In the end the close result that participants and commentators alike were expecting never happened: at the second congress (“citizens’ assembly”) of the radical Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos, held in Madrid on February 11-12, the proposals and candidate list of outgoing general secretary Pablo Iglesias easily defeated those of outgoing political secretary Iñigo Errejón.

 

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