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Catalonia

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.

 

‘Racist’ Catalan president vows to build republic as Spain vetos ministers

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 24, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On May 14, 199 days after the Catalan pro-independence bloc re-won a majority at the December 21 elections imposed by the Spanish government, the parliament of Catalonia finally voted in a new president. Quim Torra, MP for Together For Catalonia (JxCat)—headed by exiled outgoing president Carles Puigdemont—was invested as head of government by 66 votes to 65 with four abstentions. On the first round of the investiture, held on May 12, the same vote was inadequate because an absolute majority of 68 was required.

 

The conservative Catalan nationalism of Quim Torra

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 24, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Is new Catalan president Quim Torra just another right-wing xenophobe, as claimed by Pedro Sanchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the equivalent in the Spanish state of Marine Le Pen in France, Gert Wilders in the Netherlands, Italy’s Matteo Salvini, Hungary’s Victor Orban and their counterparts in Denmark, Sweden and Finland?

 

As the battle over Catalonia’s right to self-determination increasingly gets fought out on the European stage it is vital for any democrat to answer this question correctly.

 

Catalan Spring: Which way forward for the independence movement?

 

 

Introduction and translation by Richard Fidler

 

April 27, 2018
Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left  — The Spanish state’s prosecution of Catalan independence leaders suffered a serious setback April 5 when a German court rejected Spain’s request that former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont be extradited to face a charge of “rebellion,” subject to a jail term of up to 30 years.

 

The Schleswig-Holstein regional court freed Puigdemont, saying it could find no evidence that he was guilty of “high treason,” the equivalent for rebellion in German law. And the judges asked Spanish Supreme Court judge Pablo Llarena to provide more information on his further charge against Puigdemont of embezzlement for using public funds to finance the October 1 referendum on independence.

 

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.

 

National struggle and class struggle: complementary or contradictory?

 

 

Introduction by Richard Fidler

 

November 23, 2017 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left — A major item on the agenda of the upcoming convention of Québec solidaire (QS), to be held in the Montréal suburb of Longueuil December 1-3, will be a proposal for fusion with another pro-independence party, Option nationale (ON). This will entail revisiting the relationship between the parties’ support for Quebec independence (basically the entire program of ON) and Québec solidaire’s attempt to link the national question with its social justice program.

 

The current struggle for national self-determination in Catalonia quite naturally suggests parallels with the issues posed in the Quebec pro-sovereignty movement. In recent weeks, two leaders of Québec solidaire — Manon Massé, a party spokeswoman and member of Quebec’s National Assembly, and André Frappier, a member of the QS National Coordinating Committee — have visited Catalonia as invited guests of the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), a left pro-independence party that is now contesting the December 21 Catalan election.

 

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”.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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