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Spanish general election: can a divided left keep out the right?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

September 30, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On September 17, Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and winner of the April 28 general election, informed King Philip that he didn’t have enough support to form government. If nothing changed by the September 23 deadline for a proposal for government, new elections would be held on November 10.

 

Talks with the radical force Unidas Podemos (UP), a coalition of the United Left (IU) and Podemos, had collapsed and consequently the other two sources of support promised the PSOE—the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV)—also withdrew their backing for Sánchez’s investiture. In over four months of languid negotiations, the acting prime minister had managed to add only one vote to the PSOE’s 124 in the 350-seat Spanish Congress—that of the Regionalist Party of Cantabria (PRC). 

 

Ada Colau re-elected as Barcelona mayor—but at what price?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

June 30, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Compare these two scenes, which took place in Barcelona’s central St James Square after the election of the city’s mayor, the first four years ago and the second on June 15.

On June 13, 2015, successful candidate Ada Colau, former spokesperson of the Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH) and leader of the radical mass-meeting based movement Barcelona Together (BeC), takes ten minutes to lead the city’s 41 newly elected councillors in their traditional walk across the square from the town hall to the Catalan government building on the other side. An enormously enthusiastic crowd presses in on all sides to greet her, to endless shouts of Si, se puede! (“Yes, we can!”)—a celebration of the conquest of Barcelona Council by BeC’s anti-establishment, participatory, ecological and feminist. radical municipalism.

Fast forward to June 15, 2019. This time the newly successful Colau crosses the square to a chorus of whistles, boos, and ugly sexist abuse from a small group. The councillors wearing their red sashes of office walking with her is also one representative short. Missing is Joaquim Forn, leader in the council of Together for Catalonia (JxCat), party of exiled Catalan ex-president Carles Puigdemont.

Spanish elections: The right defeated and Catalonia’s right to decide re-asserted

 

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 12, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — How strongly would the filthy brown tide of reactionthe vote for the racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, anti-feminist, homophobic, pro-gun and above all anti-Catalan outfit Vox—run at the Spanish April 28 general election?  That question was on everyone’s lips in the last week of the campaign.

 

Spanish state: candidate preselection turmoil as ‘existential’ election looms

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

March 26 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — According to Josep Borrell, outgoing Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) foreign minister and self-appointed scourge of the movement for Catalan sovereignty, the April 28 general elections will be «existential» for the Spanish state. For People’s Party (PP) opposition leader Pablo Casado they will be a "referendum on the secessionist menace".

 

This shared judgment of Spain’s "parties of government" would only have been heightened by the resounding success of the March 16 Madrid demonstration "Self-Determination is not a Crime: Democracy is Deciding". The rally, organised by the Catalan National Assembly, Òmnium Cultural and the platform Women and Men of Madrid for the Right to Decide, brought into the capital up to 120,000 supporters of the right to self-determination of the nations of the Spanish state. The size and spirit of the demonstration marked an important step ahead down the long road to a democratic alternative to Spanish state unionism.

 

Spanish state: an early election about breaking the Catalan struggle

 

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

February 25, 2019 Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalPedro Sánchez, prime minister of Spain’s minority Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government, announced on February 15 that the country would vote on April 28.  The election comes 15 months short of a full term and only nine months after the previous People’s Party (PP) government of Sánchez’s predecessor Mariano Rajoy fell to a PSOE censure motion in the Spanish Congress.

 

The censure motion was supported by the rest of the all-Spanish left (Podemos and the United Left), the alliances in which they participate in Galicia, Catalonia and the Valencian Country (respectively In Tide, Together We Can and A La Valenciana) and by nearly all nationalist forces, left and right.

 

These were the conservative Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the left pro-independence Basque alliance EH Bildu, the conservative Catalan European Democratic Party (PDECat) and the centre-left Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the New Canary Islands group.

 

Once in government, Sánchez, with only 84 PSOE seats in the 350-seat Congress, had to negotiate support for his legislative program bill by bill. Nonetheless, he had been saying before the announcement that his government would run its full term. Why did he change his mind?

 

Spain’s ‘socialist’ government to US: ‘Coup against Maduro? We’re in!’

 

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

February 9, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On February 15, 2003, in the face of the looming US-led war against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the Spanish state saw the biggest demonstrations in its history. Part of a worldwide anti-war outpouring, about four million people turned out on the day, with 1.3 million in Barcelona, a million in Madrid and half-a-million in Valencia.

 

Leaders of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) were among those at the head of these oceanic demonstrations, which directly targeted the conservative Spanish People’s Party (PP) government of prime minister José María Aznar.

 

When feminism sets the political agenda

 

 

By Nazaret Castro

 

July 6, 2018
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Equal TimesOn 14 June, the women of Argentina made history: in a very narrow vote (129 in favour, 125 against), and a denouement that left the public on tenterhooks until the very end, the Congress of Deputies approved a bill to decriminalise abortion, processed, to everyone’s surprise, by the country’s conservative president, Mauricio Macri. It is now up to the Senate to decide whether the bill will become law, but the women’s movement nonetheless felt they had secured a victory: they had shown that pressure from below is able to sway a vote that for many years seemed to be a lost cause.

 

Spanish state: what does the Sánchez cabinet portend?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

June 20, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — At the June 8 ceremonial hand-over of portfolio briefcases from outgoing People’s Party (PP) ministers to their incoming Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) substitutes, the contrasts were pretty dramatic. A bunch of reactionary lifetime political operators and religious obscurantists were giving way to what new PSOE prime minister Pedro Sánchez boasted was a “progressive”, “feminist” and “Europeanist” alternative.

 

The PSOE leader replaced deposed prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s 15-member ministry of ten men and five women with an 18-member team of 11 women and seven men, easily the most “feminist” in Europe and pushing Sweden (12 women and 11 men) into a distant second place. It also featured two gay ministers, former National High Court senior judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska as interior minister and Máxim Huerta, TV presenter, journalist and novelist, as culture minister.

 

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.

 

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