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Spain

Spanish Civil War veteran José Almudéver on fighting fascism


 

February 10, 2017 —  Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — February 6 marked the 80th anniversary of the start of the “Battle of Jarama” during the Spanish Civil War, as left-wing and democratic forces fought to stop the fascist forces of General Franco taking power.

Alongside the Battle of Madrid, the Battle of Jarama is commonly associated with the participation of the International Brigades — volunteers, often organised by Communist parties, who travelled from around the world to Spain to join the anti-fascist fight in defence of the 1931-39 Spanish Republic.

Following Franco’s failure to take Madrid in October-November 1936, the fascist forces attempted a military offensive in February 1937 on the western flank of the Spanish Republic forces, alongside the river Jarama. While the offensive failed, and the counter-offensives by the Republican forces effectively turned the battle into a stalemate, the battle itself became synonymous with the military, political and moral contribution of the International Brigades to the anti-fascist struggle.

Holding the frontline at Jarama were thousands of volunteers from Britain, Ireland, United States, Italy, France, Belgium and many others who came from around the world to defend Spanish democracy against Franco, Hitler and Mussolini.

Among a handful of surviving International Brigadiers remaining today is José Almudéver Mateu.

Renewed Sortu sets 2026 as target date for sovereign Basque Republic

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

February 3, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – On January 21, in Bilbao’s hyper-modern Euskalduna Conference Centre, the Basque left pro-independence party Sortu concluded its refoundation congress by finalising the election of its 29-member national council.

 

The congress had brought together Sortu members from all parts of the divided Basque Country: its four southern districts in the Spanish state, presently covered by the regional administrations of Navarra and the Basque Autonomous Community (Euskadi) and its three northern districts in the French coastal department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

 

Catalonia versus the Spanish state: the battleground in 2017

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

January 17, 2017 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal –– 2017 will be the year of showdown between Catalonia and the Spanish state over whether the Catalan people have a right to vote on how their country should relate to Spain.

 

Spain: the civil war in the Socialist Party and the challenges for Podemos

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

November 16, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In the end, on October 29, it all worked out pretty well for Mariano Rajoy. After patiently implementing his motto that “all things come to he who waits”, the leader of the minority conservative People’s Party (PP) was that day confirmed as Spain’s prime minister for a second four-year term.

 

Two days later, Rajoy was sworn in by King Philip and normal operations were resumed in the institutions of the Spanish state after ten months of tension and turmoil springing from the inconclusive general elections of December 20 and June 26.

 

These had converted the two-party system into a four-party game, with newcomers Podemos (on the left) and Citizens (on the right) drawing millions of voters away from the PP and the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), Spain’s other traditional “party of government”. No party had a majority and the second election was called because the PSOE’s attempt to form a government with Citizens failed because of the opposition of the PP, Podemos and the rest of the left, as well as of Basque and Catalan nationalist forces.

 

European financial system: next crash just around the corner?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

November 1, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The trials of major European banks, starting with “venerable institutions” like the Monte dei Paschi di Siena (the world’s oldest bank) and Deutsche Bank (Germany’s largest), have raised the spectre of another 2008 — a “Lehman Brothers times five” in the words of one finance market analyst.

 

Spain: Socialist Party bosses behead leader to allow conservatives to rule

 

 

Socialist Party (PSOE) leader Pedro Sanchez

 

By Dick Nichols

 

October 13, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In late September and early October two heavy political bomb blasts shook the already unstable foundations of the Spanish state.

 

Catalonia and Spanish state: million-strong rally brings showdown closer

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

September 22, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On September 11, Catalonia’s national day (the Diada), between 870,000 and a million-plus came out to show their support for Catalan sovereignty and—for the majority of those present—for Catalan independence from the Spanish state.

 

The fifth annual mass mobilisation for Catalan statehood since 2012, again organised by the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and the Catalan cultural association Òmnium Cultural, confirmed that this social movement remains by far the largest in Europe.

 

It continues to pose a threat to the Spanish state and will also become an increasingly critical issue for a European Union that continues to reel under the blows of Brexit, its brutal handling of refugees and economic stagnation in many major regions.

 

Spain: Podemos MP on understanding transversality

 

 

 

Podemos MP in Andalucia Juan Antonio Gil de los Santos

 

By Juan Antonio Gil de los Santos

 

August 10, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — When the 15-M movement broke out onto the streets across Spain in 2011, it didn’t coalesce into a series of political parties on either end of the political spectrum. In fact, there was a common declaration that stood out among all of the indignados: “They don’t represent us”.

Spanish general election: snapshot of a big disappointment

 

 

Spain's June 26 national elections saw the right-wing Popular Party win 137 seats (up 14 from the December 2015 elections), while the left-wing United We Can coalition won an addition two seats (up to 71), failing to overtake the Spanish Socialist Workers Party as the biggest party on the left.

 

By Dick Nichols

 

July 1, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The key question about the result of the June 26 Spanish general election is also the most difficult to answer: why did 1.09 million people, who in the December 20 elections voted for Podemos, the United Left (IU) and the three broader progressive convergences Together We Can (Catalonia), Podemos-Commitment (Valencian Country) and In Tide (Galicia), not vote for the combined Podemos-IU ticket United We Can and these convergences at this poll?

 

The election saw an increased vote for the ruling People's Party (PP) while the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) held off the seemingly unstoppable charge of United We Can and allies towards supplanting it as the leading force of the left.

 

Spanish general election: United We Can knocking at the door

 

 

The United We Can campaign is generating enormous enthusiasm and by far the biggest rally crowds of any of the parties in the lead up to the June 26 general elections in the Spanish state.

 

By Dick Nichols

 

June 21, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal a much shorter version of this article was published in Green Left Weekly — The Spanish and European establishments have, at the time of writing, less than a week to lock the door against the advance of the progressive alliance United We Can (Unidos Podemos) in the June 26 general elections in the Spanish state.

 

How are they doing? As matters stand, not very well.

Spain: Can the Left’s economic plan turn back austerity?

 

 

The left-wing coalition Unidos Podemos (United We Can), is currently polling over 25% and looks set to surpass the vote of the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE).

 


By Dick Nichols

 

June 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal a much shorter version of this article was first published at Green Left Weekly — United We Can — the joint ticket made up of Podemos, the United Left (IU), the green party Equo and three broader alliances in Catalonia (Together We Can), Galicia (In Tide) and the Valencian Country (A la Valenciana) — is campaigning in the June 26 Spanish general election on a plan to reverse economic austerity.

 

Spain: As Podemos and United Left join forces, is a left government in sight?

 

 

United Left (IU) spokesperson Alberto Garzón and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 31, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal a much shorter version of this article was first published at Green Left Weekly — Five months after the December 20 election in Spain failed to produce a government, the country is returning to the polls in the most polarised contest since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1977.

 

The stakes could not be higher. The “second round” election on June 26 could open the door to the final breakdown of the two-party system and the beginning of a deep-going democratisation of the Spanish state and politics: or it could drive all parties defending the status quo into a last-ditch alliance against the forces for radical change.

 

Podemos and the crisis of the Spanish state

 

People hold up banners during a Podemos march in Madrid in January 2015

 

March 13, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from SpectreZine -- Early in February Australian Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal correspondent Dick Nichols, who reports from Catalonia, was interviewed by the Dutch Socialist Party monthly Spanning. Spanning of course published it in Dutch. Below is an edited version of the original interview published on March 1.

 

Spanish state: Basque leader Otegi freed as Podemos-PSOE war intensifies

 

Basque independence movement leader Arnaldo Otegi at a welcoming party in his home town of Elgoibar following his release from prison on March 1.

 

By Dick Nichols

 

March 9, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On March 1, all media outlets in the Spanish state were dominated by the images of two men: one was leaving prison near the northern city of Logroño to the cheers of inmates he was leaving behind; the other was trying to convince the Spanish parliament in Madrid to vote him in as prime minister.

 

After Spanish elections: establishment in funk over Podemos

 

Supporters of left-wing political force Podemos celebrate the strong showing for their party in the December 20 general elections

 


 By Dick Nichols

 

February 12, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In an article that appeared in the January 24 edition of the Spanish daily El País, Pablo Iglesias, secretary-general of the radical Spanish political force Podemos, spells out his view of the kind of government the Spanish state needs after the December 20 general election produced a broadly left social majority but no clear majority coalition in the 350-seat Spanish parliament.

 

The governing conservative People's Party (PP) won 123 seats and the right-populist Citizens 40. On the left, the main opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) won 90 seats, while Podemos and the three people’s unity alliances in which it participated in Catalonia, Galicia and the Valencian Community won 69. The other seats went to the United Left-Popular Unity (IU-UP), and Catalan, Basque and Canary Island nationalist forces.

 

Decisive for determining what sort of government Spain will get — or if it will have to go to early elections — is which way the PSOE will jump in the wheeling-and-dealing presently taking place among the parties.

 

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on a 'government of change' for Spain

By Pablo Iglesias, translated by Dick Nichols

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The result of the December 20 election put an end to Spain's political shift-system, and opened up the historical possibility of our country having a government not exclusively dominated by the old party machines that have shared power over the last decades.

For the first time, Spain could have a pluralist and progressive government disconnected enough from past practices to: guarantee the introduction in its first 100 days of a program of immediate emergency social support; lead the constitutional change that the citizens are calling for; provide democratic solutions and new formulae of coexistence to meet the territorial crisis; and with fresh blood purge the parasitism from our institutions.

On Greece, Syriza, Podemos and the Democracy in Europe Movement – Yanis Varoufakis interview in El Mundo

Ex-finance minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis

January 23, 2016 -- thoughts for the post-2008 world -- Why did you resign the very next day after the ‘no’ victory in the Greek referendum?

Yanis Varoufakis - Because the Prime Minister told me, on the night of that magnificent result, that it was time to surrender to the troika. Not what I had entered politics for and certainly not what the mandate that the 62% NO vote we had just received stipulated.

Did the European leaders press Tsipras to get rid from you? Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup of finances ministers, has admitted that he did so…

They knew that I would never sign up to a new non-viable, toxic loan agreement. That was clear from the beginning. I was elected to negotiate a viable agreement. And since it is the finance minister who signs these agreements on behalf of the state, it was essential to the troika that I should be removed.

Why do you think you are so uncomfortable (and considered even dangerous) for the EU leaders?

Because I was an obstacle to the maintenance of their permanent denial regarding their failed fiscal reform programs.

What has been your major mistake during the time you were Greece Finance Minister?

Catalogna: il premier si suicida per consentire la formazione di un governo a favore dell’indipendenza

 
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4600 ] di Dick Nichols, traduzione di Giuseppe Volpe ZNet Italy

 

19 gennaio 2016 – Il 9 gennaio il titolo di prima pagina di La Vanguardia, il quotidiano filo-sistema della Catalogna, diceva: “Insieme Per Il Sì e CUP esauriscono le opzioni di accordo: il fallimento dei negoziati apre la via alle elezioni il 6 marzo”.

 

I dialoghi all’interno della maggioranza filo-indipendenza del parlamento catalano – composta dalla convenzionale coalizione Insieme Per Il Sì e dall’anticapitalista Candidature Popolari Unite – Appello Costituente (CUP-CC) – erano alla fine crollati dopo più di tre mesi di incontri. Questa maggioranza era emersa dalle elezioni “plebiscitarie” catalane del 27 settembre, convocate come sostituto del referendum in stile scozzese che è sempre stato respinto dai maggiori partiti spagnoli, il Partito Popolare (PP) al governo e il Partito Socialista Spagnolo dei Lavoratori (PSOE).

 

Nonostante l’intervento all’ultimo minuto delle tre organizzazioni di massa del nazionalismo catalano – il Congresso Nazionale Catalano (ANC), l’Associazione delle Municipalità per l’Indipendenza (AMI) e il movimento per la cultura catalana Omnium Cultural – il CUP-CC continuava a rifiutarsi di accettare il premier pro tempore Artur Mas come capo del primo governo filo-indipendenza della Catalogna.

 

Catalonia: Premier falls on sword to allow pro-independence government to form

 

Artur Mas announced he would be stepping down from the role of premier of Catalonia on January 9 in order to help pave the way for the formation of the region's first pro-independence government

 

By Dick Nichols

 

January 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On January 9, the front-page headline of La Vanguardia, Catalonia's establishment daily read: “Together For Yes and the CUP exhaust options for agreement — failure of negotiations opens the way for elections on March 6.”

 

Talks within the pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament — composed of the mainstream Together For Yes coalition and the anti-capitalist People's Unity Candidacies-Constituent Call (CUP-CC) — had finally collapsed after over three months of meetings. This majority had emerged from Catalonia's September 27 “plebiscitary” elections, called as a substitute for the Scottish-style referendum that has always been refused by Spain's major parties, the ruling People's Party (PP) and the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE).

 

Despite the last-minute intervention of the three mass organisations of Catalan nationalism — the Catalan National Congress (ANC), the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) and the movement for Catalan culture Omnium Cultural—the CUP-CC was still refusing to accept acting premier Artur Mas as head of Catalonia's first pro-independence government.

 

'If we've come so far, this can't go wrong' -- Interview with CUP deputy in Catalan parliament

Antonio Baños (pictured) was the lead candidate for the left-nationalist People's Unity Candidacies—Constituent Call (CUP) in the September 27 Catalan elections. Read more about the Catalan struggle here.

 

Antonio Baños, journalist and author of The Catalan Rebellion, was the lead candidate for the anti-capitalist left nationalist People's Unity Candidacies—Constituent Call (CUP) in the September 27 Catalan elections. The CUP scored a major success at the poll, increasing it presence from three seats to ten in the 135-seat Catalan parliament (for further analysis, see here).

Presently involved in negotiations with the the winning pro-independence ticket Together For Yes, Baños outlines the CUP's view of the present stage of the Catalan independence process.  For Baños, the new road to independence is too complex to be reduced to the debate over whether Catalan premier Artur Mas should continue in that role—opposed by the CUP--and therefore prefers that negotiations with Together For Yes and other organisations and groups focus on how to start disobeying the laws of the Spanish state and the decisions of its Constitutional Court, and on how to shield Catalan institutions from attacks from Spain.

Baños insists: "If we've come this far, this can't go wrong.”

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