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Spain

Spain: Rising United Left tackles new challenges

In June 2013, the United Left trailed just 4.7% percentage points behind the PSOE (16.8% to 21.5%). Click on graph for larger size.

By Dick Nichols

June 21, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The latest opinion polls in the Spanish state have been stirring waves of concern in the ruling elites, of hope on the left and storms of comment in the media.

Nationally, they show the radical federation United Left (IU) within reach of closing the gap on the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). In the June Metroscopia poll IU trailed just 4.7% percentage points behind the PSOE (16.8% to 21.5%).

Europe's 'lefts' and the capitalist crisis

Front de Gauche (France) leader Jean-Luc Melenchon with SYRIZA (Greece) leader Alexis Tspiras.

For more on the developments on Europe's far left, click HERE (see also the pink tabs and the end of the article)

By Francois Sabado

May 20, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The situation of the "lefts" in Europe cannot be understood without starting from the crisis, its multiple dimensions and its effects on the social and political field. Hitting head-on all the organisations and parties linked to the history of the workers’ movement, precipitating ruptures, it obliges political forces to recompose around new axes.

Sortu and Basque left nationalism’s strategic relaunch

For more coverage of the Basque struggle, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols

March 5, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Nearly 10 years after the Spanish high court outlawed its previous political organisations, Basque left nationalism has finally given birth to a new legal party—Sortu (“to create” or “to be born” in Basque). The new arrival is a powerful progressive force for Basque independence—socialist, feminist, ecologically aware and staunchly internationalist.

Its goal is an independent socialist Basque-speaking state that unites the three northern Basque regions in the French department of Pyrenees Atlantiques with the four southern Basque regions covering Navarra and Euskadi (the Basque Autonomous Community) in the Spanish state.

Basque Country: Movement for sovereignty and socialism on the rise

For more coverage of the Basque struggle, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

February 18, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Oskar Matute (pictured above) was elected to the Basque parliament in the election of October 21, 2012, as a candidate for Euskal Herria Bildu (EH Bildu, Basque Country Reunification). He was previously a member of parliament from 2002-2009 with Ezker Batua-Berdeak, a united-left grouping. His is spokesperson for Alternativa, one of the founding members of the EH Bildu coalition, which has achieved spectacular electoral results since its legalisation in May 2011. EH Bildu won 25% of the popular vote in the October 2012 Basque election -- capturing 21 out of 75 seats.

Tristan Parish and Rachel Evans spoke to Oskar Matute about EH Bildu and the Basque battle for independence, dignity and socialism.

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How did EH Bildu form and why did it achieve such good results?

Catalonia: Fight over right to decide political future intensifies

[For more coverage of Catalonia, click HERE, and Spain, HERE.]

By Dick Nichols

February 6, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Political tensions within the Spanish state have reached a new pitch following the January 23, 2013, declaration by the Catalan parliament of Catalonia’s sovereign right to decide its own political future. Antagonism is intensifying between the Catalan and national Spanish governments and polarisation continues to increase among and within all main political forces.

The 135-seat Catalan parliament adopted the “Catalan People’s Declaration of Sovereignty and Right to Decide” by 85 votes to 41 with two abstentions. It was supported by the governing conservative nationalist federation, Convergence and Union (CiU), the independentist Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), the left coalition Initiative for Catalonia-Greens and United and Alternative Left (ICV-EUiA), and by one of the three representatives of the left-nationalist Popular Unity Candidacies (CUP).

United Left national convention: ‘This is the Spanish SYRIZA!’

[For more reports and discussion on political developments in Spain, click HERE.]

By Dick Nichols, Madrid

January 4, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On the last day of the 10th federal convention of the Spain’s United Left (Izquierda Unida, IU), Juan Peña, young IU organisation secretary for the Castilian town of Valladolid, summed up his view of the impact of the indignado (15M) movement on the IU, one of the oldest broad left formations in Europe: “15M brought IU good news and bad news. The good news was that our programmatic proposals hit the mark, shared by the people who poured into the streets. The bad news was that the people thought that these proposals were new, their own.”

Basque Abertzale Left: Towards peace in the Basque Country

On November 14, 2012, reports the weekly news bulletin of the Abertzale Left nº101,15,000 people demonstrated in Bayonne under the slogan of “Hurbildu bakera, Giza eskubide guztiak, euskal preso eta iheslariak Euskal Herrira” (On the path to peace, all human rights, Basque prisoners and refugees to the Basque Country). The biggest demonstration in demand respect for the rights of prisoners and refugees to ever occur on the streets of Bayonne. The demonstration was led by the families of prisoners who carried photos of their loved ones.

By Gorka Elejabarrieta, head of the International Relations Department of the Basque Abertzale (Patriotic) Left

Catalan elections: A stride forward for national and social justice

SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras campaigns for ICV-EUiA leader Joan Herrera campaign central act in Barcelona. Photo by Laura Guerrero.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

November 30, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Most pre-election polls picked the main trends in the November 25 elections for the135-seat parliament of Catalonia. What they underestimated—massively—was the strength of those trends, and for two reasons. It was not clear how large the expected increase in voter participation would be and right until the last minute up to 30% of voters were undecided.

As things turned out these critical elections stirred political passions so much that participation reached a record of just under 70%--5% above the previous high for a Catalan parliamentary contest. From early morning long queues formed at polling stations as 610,000 more people than in 2010 lined up to make their point (an increase of 11%).

Behind the rise of the Galician Left Alternative: Interview with Xosé Manuel Beiras

Xosé-Manuel Beiras.

For more on the Galician Left Alternative, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

Xosé-Manuel Beiras interviewed by Daniel Raventós, translated for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Dick Nichols

Xosé-Manuel Beiras, 76, has been a prominent figure nationalist left politics in Galicia since the 1960s. In 1963 he helped found the Galician Socialist Party (PSG, Partido Socialista Galego), illegal under the Franco dictatorship, and later became its international secretary and then general secretary (1971-77).

In 1982 Beiras participated in the founding of the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG, Bloco Nacionalista Galego), entering its leadership. In 1985 he was elected as a BNG candidate to the 75-seat Galician parliament, and was re-elected in 1989, becoming the BNG’s parliamentary spokesperson. Upon further re-election in 1993 Beiras was also elected as the BNG’s national spokesperson at its seventh national assembly.

Spain: Inspiring rise of the ‘Galician SYRIZA’ (+ AGE program)

For more on the Galician Left Alternative, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols

November 5, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On the morning of October 22, the day after elections to the parliaments of the Basque and Galician autonomous communities of the Spanish state, the TV and radio political pundits were struggling to be wise. Their powers of analysis were not tested so much by the rise of EH Bildu, the Basque left-nationalist coalition—the polls had predicted its vote of 25%. The disorienting new phenomenon was result for the new Galician Left Alternative (Alternativa Galega de Esquerda, AGE).

Just six weeks old and already widely dubbed the “Galician SYRIZA”, AGE won 14% of the vote and nine seats in the 75-seat parliament. The average of poll predictions for AGE before the election was three to four seats and 6 to 7 per cent of the vote.

Spain: As two-party system breaks down, what prospects for a ‘Spanish SYRIZA’?

Demonstrators march to the Spanish parliament against austerity measures announced by the government in Madrid, September 26, 2012.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

October 28, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The economic, social and territorial crisis in the Spanish state is morphing into a crisis of the two-party system that has provided Popular Party (PP) or Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) administrations for the last 30 years. Basque, Catalan and Galician nationalist forces (left and right), and the United Left (IU) and Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) parties are gaining support. However, only a brave gambler would put serious money on the future evolution of this crisis. While the two-party set-up has been severely weakened, a replacement party with enough popular support to impose a different solution has yet to emerge.

Europe: Greece, Spain, Portugal – the arc of resistance to austerity hardens

 On September 25-26-27, 2012, up to 50,000 demonstrators tried to encircle the parliament, calling for the resignation of the government and declaring “democracy kidnapped”. There were violent clashes with police.

Read more by Murray Smith. Read more analysis of Greece, Spain, Portugal and France.

By Murray Smith

October 16, 2012 -- Frontline, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- It sometimes seems as if Europe’s sovereign debt crisis has been going on forever. But in fact it really only manifested itself in 2010, a result of the bailing out of private banks with public money and other public spending due to the crisis. And in May of that year Greece became the first country to ask for help and to receive so-called “aid” – really, it cannot be repeated too often, loans that must be paid back – from the now infamous "Troika", the IMF-ECB-European Commission.

Basque Country: Behind the rise of the EH Bildu left coalition

EH Bildu's main election rally.

By Dick Nichols

October 22, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On October 21, in probably the most powerful performance in the history of Basque politics, the left nationalist coalition Euskal Herria Bildu (EH Bildu, Basque Country Assembly) won 25% of the vote and 21 seats in the elections for 75-seat parliament of the Basque Autonomous Community (Euskadi) in the Spanish state. The rise of the EH Bildu came at the expense of all other parties.

(The seven regions of the Basque Country lie between Spain and France. The three provinces of Euskadi — Biskaia, Gipuskoa and Araba — plus the autonomous community of Navarra form its southern zone, Hegoalde, while three regions within the French department of Pyrenées Atlantiques form its northern zone, Iparralde.)

Over the years since the end of the Franco dictatorship the Basque left nationalist vote has varied greatly, depending whether the party representing it was legal or outlawed, or whether the movement was advocating an election boycott. Its highest previous vote for the Euskadi parliament was the 17.9% (14 seats) won by Eusko Herritarrok (EH, Basque Citizens) in 1998. In the October 21 election an extra 50,000 people voted for EH Bildu.

Farewell Spain? Catalan independence march sends shockwave

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

September 17, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On September 11, the Catalan National Day, politics in the Spanish state suffered a massive shock: up to 2 million people (more than 25% of the population of Catalonia) marched through the streets of Barcelona shouting one word, “independència”. It was a day when countless Catalans discovered that others felt the way they did—it’s time to drop Spain for a state of our own.

Who were they? And why is support for an independent Catalonia—from 1990 to 2008 as low as 15% of the population in some polls—now running at around 50%?

A state of affairs worth fighting for: historiography of the Spanish Civil War

By Doug Enaa Greene

September 24, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

“There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for.”[1]

This was George Orwell’s first impression of revolutionary Barcelona at the end of 1936. In many ways, the phrase, ‘a state of affairs worth fighting for,’ sums up how an entire generation felt about the Spanish Civil War. Whether on the left or right, millions were passionately aroused by the war. Idealistic volunteers from more than fifty countries went to fight on behalf of the Republic. Hitler and Mussolini helped the Nationalist side in their fervent crusade to establish a ‘Catholic Spain.’

Spain: Millions protest economic and political crisis; Audio: Spain's crisis, the popular fightback and its impact on Europe

Huge protest in Barcelona against new austerity measures, July 19. About 3.5 million people took to the streets across Spain on the day. Photo by Tim Gooden.


July 28, 2012 -- Dick Nichols, GLW/Links correspondent in Europe, interviewed by Melbourne 3CR radio's Solidarity Breakfast program on the political and economic crisis in Europe, the mass protests and strikes taking place.

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By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

Radio report: This week in Europe with Dick Nichols -- Greek and French elections

May 12, 2012 -- 3CR Solidarity Breakfast program -- Dick Nichols, Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal's European correspondent, discusses the week's (ending May 12, 2012) developments in Europe on Melbourne community radio 3CR. He discusses the election success of SYRIZA in Greece, the presidential election in France, developments in Spain, and what these mean for the rest of Europe.

Solidarity Breakfast

Spain: Huge general strike could mark turning of tide

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

April 1, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the global economic crisis broke out in 2008, the many-sided protest movement against neoliberal austerity has yet to gain enough strength to force any real retreats from governments doing the bidding of capitalism’s ruling elites.

But the March 29 general strike against the new labour law in Spain — hugely supported and backed by often vast demonstrations in 111 cities and towns — could well point to a turning of the tide.

It lifted social resistance in Europe to a new height and gave millions of people a glimpse of how they might finally make the country’s corrupt and arrogant powers-that-be pay for their crisis.

The right-wing media screamed “flop”, but the behaviour of the finance markets told the real story: on strike day the Madrid stock exchange lost nearly 1% (its eighth straight day of losses) and the premium on Spanish public debt rose further over the Italian debt premium that only recently exceeded it.

Crisis, revolt and the left in Europe

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following presentation is a slightly edited and updated version of a talk given on January 20, 2012, to the eighth national conference of the Australian Socialist Alliance, held in Sydney. The slides mentioned refer to the PowerPoint presentation above, which accompanied the talk. Dick Nichols works in the European office of the Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly, based in Barcelona.

* * *

By Dick Nichols

Slide 1

Thank you, comrades, for the invitation to speak—what a pleasure it is to see old faces, and new ones, too! The class struggle may be more advanced in Europe, but I sorely miss what we have created in the Socialist Alliance, as should become clear later in this talk.

My aim is to sketch the present phase of the class struggle in Europe, assess the gains of our side along with the challenges it faces, and hopefully help us all think about what this might mean for Socialist Alliance and the socialist movement in Australia. But the opinions expressed are my own, of course, not the Socialist Alliance’s: so feel free to disagree vigorously!

Spanish election: Right wins, but will face bolder resistance

The 1.68 million-strong vote for United Left was not just the result of the general disaffection with the major parties, but also of a decision to connect its campaign with the protest movement.

By Dick Nichols

November 29, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- On election night, November 20, it all went as the polls had forecast: the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government was massacred, with its lowest vote in 34 years; the right-wing Popular Party got an absolute majority; and left and left-nationalist forces emerged stronger, led by the United Left (IU) and Amaiur, the Basque left-nationalist coalition (results here).

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