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Spain: Huge advance for left in local/regional elections, but 'Spanish SYRIZA' sorely needed

In Barcelona, central St. James Square was packed with chanting, whooping and confetti-throwing supporters of the winning Barcelona Together and its leader, housing rights activist Ada Colau.

By Dick Nichols

July 1, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On Saturday, June 13, the squares in front of scores of town halls across the Spanish state were jam-packed with enthusiastic crowds: tens of thousands were gathering to celebrate the inauguration of the progressive administrations created by the leftward swing in the May 24 local government elections for the country’s 8122 councils.

Basque Country: History made as pro-Basque coalition forms government in Navarre

Uxue Barkos, leader of Geroa Bai.

By Duroyan Fertl

June 23, 2015 -- Hintadupfing, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Regional elections held in Spain on May 24 have installed an historic pro-Basque state government in the autonomous community of Navarre for the first time, bringing to an end 16 years of rule by the pro-Spanish, centre-right Navarrese People's Union (UPN).

The UPN won only 15 seats, down four from 2011, while its ally, the right-wing Spanish People’s Party (of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy), won two, half of its quota in 2011.

Instead, Uzue Barkos, leader of the pro-Basque coalition Geroa Bai (“Yes to the Future”) – itself a coalition of centre-left Basque nationalist association Zabaltzen and the centre-right Basque Nationalist Party (EAJ-PNV) – approached other pro-Basque parties to negotiate a coalition government after her party won nine seats.

Greece-Troika negotiations: last turns of the screw?

Two years after its closure by the previous right-wing government, Greek public broadcaster ERT was back on air on the morning of June 11, 2015. 

For more analysis and discussion on SYRIZA's struggle against austerity, click HERE

By Dick Nichols

June 15, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For a while in late May, it looked as if the negotiations over the terms for releasing the last €7.2 billion owed Greece under its second bailout package with the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (the “Troika”) just might have some chance of success.

Basque Country: Historic day for Iruñea/Pamplona

June 13, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It was an historic day in the Basque Country's capital, Iruñea/Pamplona. For the first time a pro-independence left mayor was elected with the support of four progressive and nationalist parties.

Euskal Herria Bildu's candidate Joseba Asiron will now form government to run the city for the next four years after 20 years of repressive pro-Spanish right-wing unionist mayors. Thousands gathered outside the city hall to celebrate.Thanks to Basque Info.

Spain: 'The elections sent us a message: we have to rebuild the United Left'

Alberto Garzón in his office at the Congress. Photo by Marta Jara.

June 1, 2015 -- Transform!, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Alberto Garzón, a Izquierda Unida (IU, United Left) candidate in Spain's November general election, was interviewed by eldiario.es in his office at the Spanish Congress. The interview was conducted by Aitor Riveiro.

Spain: Madrid and Barcelona show -- the greater the unity on the left, the bigger the win

Supporters of the Madrid Now! ticket await the results of the regional and municipal elections in Madrid, May 24, 2015.

For more on politics in Spain, click HERE. See also Spain: 'Barcelona Together' and the fight for people-first city councils"

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

May 27, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Once the results of Spain’s May 24 local and regional elections became known the main lesson for the anti-austerity and anti-capitalist left was simply and starkly obvious: the more united and more involving of ordinary people its election campaigns were, the greater its gains and the greater the losses for the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE)—its main rival for the popular and working-class vote—and for the ruling conservative People’s Party (PP).

Where the two main poles of the radical left in the Spanish state—Podemos and the United Left (IU)— managed to merge their forces in projects organised not as alliances between party apparatuses but as participatory citizens’ electoral campaigns, the results were at times little short of astounding.

Spain: Leftist Ada Colau wins Barcelona mayor, traditional parties lose support

Ada Colau, who won the May 24 Barcelona mayoral elections, with Podemos leader Pablo Iglasias.

By Stuart Munckton

May 25, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Popular left-wing activist activist Ada Colau has won Barcelona's May 24 mayoral elections. Running on the ticket of "Barcelona Together", which united several left groups and grassroots activists, Colau came first with 25% of the vote.

Spain: How did the radical new mayor of Barcelona win Spain’s second city?

Ada Colau.

May 25, 2015 -- Revolting Europe, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Former anti-eviction activist Ada Colau was elected the new mayor Barcelona in the municipal elections on May 24. Ahead of the victory of the radical campaigner, who was backed by a coalition including Podemos and United Left, she spoke to Il Manifesto newspaper.

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Spain: 'Barcelona Together' and the fight for people-first city councils

Conversation in the Reina Sofia Museum Square, Madrid, attended by various left coalitions standing in the May 24 municipal polls.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

May 21, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A commentator for the mainstream Barcelona daily La Vanguardia reported in its May 9 edition on a conversation in a lift that he had overheard between two “executives of a certain age”.

They were talking about an opinion poll giving the radical, movement-based ticket “Barcelona Together” and its mayoral candidate, housing rights activist Ada Colau, the lead in the March 24 contest for the Barcelona City Council. On that day elections will also be held in all municipalities in the Spanish state, as well as in 13 of the country’s 17 autonomous communities (states).

Executive A: “Have you seen that [incumbent Barcelona mayor Xavier] Trias is losing?”

Executive B: “Yes, Colau is winning.”

Reino de España: 24 M, prólogo para australianos

[English at http://links.org.au/node/4417]

Por Dick Nichols, Barcelona

17/05/2015 -- Sinpermiso -- Si algunas personas que conozco del sector más cínico o desencantado del espectro de la izquierda española reflexionasen sobre el tema de nuestro debate de esta noche --- "democracia de base y los movimientos contra el capitalismo: lecciones de España"- podrían tener la tentación de hacer un comentario bastante cáustico, tal vez algo como:

"¿Democracia de base?” ¿Cual? Sin embargo, el movimiento indignado de las plazas -que comenzó hace cuatro años (el 15 de mayo de 2011), cuando millones de personas se concentraron en más de 80 ciudades y pueblos, fue en buena medida una expresión de esa democracia de base, aunque más o menos se haya evaporado por ahora.

"¿Movimientos contra el capitalismo”? ¿Dónde están? Si no estamos hablando de grupos revolucionarios marginales, no hay movimientos contra el capitalismo dignos de tener en cuenta. Lo que tenemos es un montón desigual de movimientos de resistencia, por lo general sin éxito, contra diferentes aspectos de la austeridad capitalista.

Lessons from Spain: grassroots democracy and the movements against capitalism

"Podemos, whose decision-making process is based on online voting by a passive mass membership of 300,000, is a highly centralised operation that is in many ways the polar opposite of the grassroots democracy of 15M."

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

May 11, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- If some people I know from the more cynical or disillusioned end of the Spanish left spectrum were to reflect on the topic of our discussion tonight---“Grassroots democracy and the movements against capitalism: lessons from Spain”—they might be tempted to make a rather acid commentary, maybe something like this:

Spain: Will fall of former IMF boss destroy People’s Party?

For more on politics in Spain, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

April 27, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On April 16, a central member  of the Spanish economic and political establishment came crashing down. Rodrigo Rato, former deputy prime minister in the 1996-2004 People’s Party (PP) government of José María Aznar and head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) from 2004 to 2007, was detained on suspicion of tax evasion, concealment of assets  and fraud. At the same time it became public that Rato had also taken advantage of a 2012 government amnesty for tax cheats.

Although the former treasurer is no longer in detention, TV coverage of Rato being pushed into a police car like any other suspect continues to dominate comment in the bars and on the social media. Many commentators judge that his detention marks a turning point in Spanish politics.

Global campaign: ‘Free Otegi, bring Basque prisoners home’

By Emma Clancy

March 28, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- An international campaign for the release of jailed Basque pro-independence leader Arnaldo Otegi was launched at a conference in the European Parliament in Brussels on March 24.

A statement calling for Otegi’s release was announced at the conference, which has been endorsed by international figures including former Latin American presidents, Nobel Prize winners, political representatives and former political prisoners.

The initial signatories include Senator José Pepe Mújica, president of Uruguay until his term ended in March; Fernando Lugo, president of Paraguay until he was ousted in a constitutional coup in 2012; and José Manuel Zelaya, former Honduran president deposed in a right-wing military coup in 2009.

The statement has also been signed by Nobel Peace Prize winners Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel and Mairéad Maguire.

Spain: Podemos leads left gains in Andalusia poll

Podemos’s lead candidate Teresa Rodriguez.

Click for more on Podemos and politics in Spain.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

March 25, 2015 -- Green Left Weekly, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The March 22 regional elections in Andalusia, Spain’s most populous and second-poorest region, opened this year's critical election calendar.

This election cycle includes local government and 13 regional elections on May 24 and a September 27 poll in Catalonia that will double as an independence referendum. It will culminate in national Spanish elections in November.

The future course of politics in the Spanish state and Europe will greatly depend on the results of these contests.

Eyewitness Greece: The SYRIZA factor in European politics

Click for more on SYRIZA

By Dick Nichols

The following talk -- “The Greek elections -- what next? SYRIZA and the fight against austerity” – was presented to the Department of Political Economy and the Australia-Greece Solidarity Campaign, March 10, 2015, at the University of Sydney’s New Law School. Dick Nichols is Green Left Weekly’s and Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal’s European correspondent, based in Barcelona, and a member of the Australian Socialist Alliance. Nichols is currently touring Australia presenting an eyewitness account of the SYRIZA election victory.

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March 12, 2015 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- What does SYRIZA’s victory means for politics in Europe, at both all-European and national levels? Both are closely intertwined, and since SYRIZA’s January 25, 2015, electoral victory there have been having increasingly rapid feedback effects.

Eric Toussaint: SYRIZA, Podemos and the way towards power for the people

Click for more on SYRIZA, Podemos, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador

By Eric Toussaint, translated by Adam Clark-Gimmig

February 18, 2015 -- Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Experience proves that left-wing movements can come to be in government, but nevertheless not hold power. Democracy, in other words the exercise of power by the people and for the people, requires much more.

The problem is currently being faced in Greece with SYRIZA, and will have to be faced in Spain with Podemos (if that party wins the general elections in late 2015), as it was faced in the past, in Venezuela with the election of Hugo Chávez as president in December 1998, in Bolivia with Evo Morales in 2005, in Ecuador with Rafael Correa in December 2006, or several decades earlier with Salvador Allende in Chile in 1970 |1|.

Podemos: Politics by the people

Andrew Dolan interviews Eduardo Maura of Podemos

February 2015 -- Red Pepper, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Less than a year after its formation, a populist left-wing party is claiming more than 200,000 members and topping the opinion polls in Spain. Its leader, Pablo Iglesias, has the highest approval rating of any Spanish politician and opinion polls show Podemos, which was only launched in January 2014, surpassing one or both of the major two parties and even entering government at the next election.

Podemos (We can) first put its popular support to the test in May’s European elections. It secured nearly 1.25 million votes (8 per cent) and five MEPs, a remarkable achievement for a newly-formed party with no established infrastructure, little money and limited mainstream media coverage.

SYRIZA: 'For us, "structural reforms" are the fight against corruption and corporate tax evasion'

For more on SYRIZA, click HERE

[February 25, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Paul Mason, writing on the February 24 SYRIZA government letter to the Eurogroup, outlining the reforms it intends to carry out, comments: "As flagged before it looks like [the Greek government] will be allowed to carry out the humanitarian aspect of Syriza’s so-called Thessaloniki Programme – i.e. anti-poverty measures. This, plus one of the most aggressive anti-tax avoidance offensives ever planned in the western world, is the centrepiece of Yanis Varoufakis’ plan.

["If the Greek government is allowed to use €10bn in an earmarked fund to recapitalise the banks, then the issues that remain are ones that demarcate the radical left from the centre: privatisations, trade union rights, universal healthcare, pensions and the minimum wage...

Vincenç Navarro: Why Podemos is a big threat to Spain's political establishment

Pablo Iglesias, Credit: La Veu del País Valencià (CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Pablo Iglesias. Credit: La Veu del País Valencià (CC-BY-SA-3.0).

Click for more on Podemos and politics in Spain.

January 28, 2015 -- EUROPP – European Politics and Policy, London School of Economics, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal  -- Following SYRIZA’s victory in the Greek election on January 25, a number of commentators have turned their attention toward Spain, where the left-wing Podemos party, which originally emerged from the Indignados protest movement, has been receiving strong polling numbers since the end of 2014.

Here Vicente Navarro writes on the growth of Podemos and his role in shaping the party’s economic program. He argues that the anti-austerity and pro-democracy narrative put forward by Podemos has deeply resonated with the Spanish electorate, and that the party now poses a major threat to Spain's political establishment.

Spain needs its own SYRIZA

Alexis Tsipras and Pablo Iglesias. 

Click for more on Podemos and politics in Spain.

February 2, 2015 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The victory of SYRIZA in the January 25, 2015, general election in Greece has led to widespread discussions across the Europe on the way forward for the left. In Spain, the rapid rise in the polls of the Podemos party has excited many. The following is one viewpoint on the meaning of the SYRIZA win for the Spansih left.

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By Manel García Biel

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