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Catalonia

Catalonia and the Spanish state on collision course

1.8 million people (25% of the population of Catalonia), took part in this year’s September 11 Diada demonstration. More pictures HERE.

Click for more on political developments in Catalonia and the Spanish state.

By Dick Nichols

September 17, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This year’s September 11 Catalan national day (Diada) demonstration, in support of the Catalan parliament’s planned November 9 popular consultation on Catalan statehood, was the biggest since the present cycle of mobilisations for the country’s right to national self-determination began four years ago.

Spain: Podemos and the dynamic reorganisation of the left

Click for more on Podemos and politics in Spain.

By Mario Candeias

September 3, 2014 -- The Bullet, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission-- It is no longer enough to win over civil society, occupy public spaces, take to the streets, carry out symbolic actions, prevent evictions or to win plebiscites. In Spain movements for "real democracy" are setting a course to capture institutions – albeit with the aim to recreate these institutions in a constitutive process in the interests of "real democracy".

We are witnessing a dynamic reorganisation of the political sphere – from the left. Even before the European parliamentary elections at the end of May a shift was evident that would bring the Izquierda Unida (United Left, IU) party a tripling of its votes. It now has six members in the European Parliament (MEPs) in Strasbourg.

Catalonia: ‘Let’s Win Barcelona’ lays down unity challenge for left

The school hall in which the launch of "Let's Win Barcelona" took place was packed, with over a thousand forced to watch proceedings from outside and 5000 more looking on via video link

Click for more on political developments in Catalonia and the Spanish state.

By Dick Nichols

Spanish state: Eruption of Podemos sparks turmoil left and right

By Dick Nichols

July 1, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The five seats (7.9%) won by the platform Podemos (“We Can”) in the May 25 European election was an earthquake in Spanish politics. It stunned all political trends, including Podemos itself.

Spanish king abdicates: circuit breaker or fuse igniter?

By Dick Nichols

June 9, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier version of this article appeared at Green Left Weekly -- On Monday, June 2, as news spread of the abdication of the Spanish king, Juan Carlos of Borbon, a strange rustling sound could be heard across Barcelona. Hard to work out at first, it soon became clear what it was. It was the city—the capital of Catalonia—laughing.

In the city’s thousands of bars, people were hooting with glee at the wave of tweets that the king’s decision to abdicate in favour of his son, Felipe, was provoking. One showed a melancholy Prince Charles of Wales emitting the thought bubble: “Even the bloody Spanish do this better than us.”

Spanish state: ‘We must continue to widen the cracks that have begun to open up’

By Josep Maria Antentas, translated by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.

First published in Spanish at Dominio Publico.  More analysis of politics in the Spanish state.

May 26, 2014 -- Six years have passed since the “official” start of the crisis, when Lehman Brothers collapsed in September 2008. Four years since [then president Jose Luis Rodriguez] Zapatero announced the first big package of cuts in May 2010. Three years since 15M (the May 15 Movement) exploded onto the streets. Two years since the large demonstration for independence in Catalonia on September 11, 2012.

European elections: Hope in the gloom as left gains in Greece, Spain, Ireland

Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras (centre). Syriza outpolled all other parties in Greece.
For more coverage of the 2014 European elections, click HERE.

[See a table containing all the results for the European left, Green and left nationalist parties at the end of the article.] 

By Dick Nichols

May 30, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly, an earlier version of this article appeared at Green Left Weekly -- The result of the May 25 European parliamentary poll was dominated by the victories of the xenophobic and racist National Front (FN) in France (26%, 24 MEPs, Members of the European Parliament) and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain (26.8%, 24 MEPs). It has set off a wave of mainstream media angst across the old continent.

Spain: Left unity elusive in European poll pre-selections

"Before the crisis: Vote for your rights. United Left, your voice in Europe."

By Dick Nichols

March 26, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- As the May 25 European elections approach, a question that concerns left and progressive people in the Spanish state is just how many left alternatives will end up running against the “parties of government”—the ruling conservative People’s Party (PP) and the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE).

Balearic Islands (Spain): Attack on language rights provokes indefinite teachers’ strike, citizens' revolt

By Dick Nichols

October 1, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The school year should have already begun on the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera, near the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula), but it hasn’t. Since September 16, high school and primary teachers have been on an indefinite strike.

On September 30, after an earlier mass meeting of the cross-union Teachers’ Assembly voted to stay out, the strike entered its third week.

The day before, the Balearic Islands saw their biggest ever demonstrations, when at least 100,000 came out to support the teachers and to protest against the education and language policy of the regional People’s Party (PP) government of Jose Ramon Bauzá and his education minister Joana Maria Camps.

Catalonia: Showdown with Spanish state looms after huge protest

[For more coverage of Catalonia, click HERE. For more on Spanish politics, click HERE.]

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

September 16, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On September 11, Catalonia’s national day (the Diada), around 1.6 million Catalans linked arms to form the Via Catalana (Catalan Way), a 400-kilometre human chain demanding a referendum on independence for the country.

Catalonia: Left unites to pay homage to Andreu Nin

Andreu Nin.

By Dick Nichols

June 21, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It took 76 years and one day since his abduction on the orders of Stalin during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), but on June 17, 2013, all parties of the Catalan left came together in Barcelona to recognise the contribution to the Catalan and Spanish working people of revolutionary fighter Andreu Nin.

At midnight on June 16, 1937, Nin, the general secretary of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), was abducted by Stalinist agents outside the POUM’s headquarters. He was then taken to a secret prison near Madrid, where he was tortured and then murdered once it was clear he would never “confess” to being in the pay of Hitler. His remains have still to be discovered.

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%).

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%).

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.

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%?

Spain: 'Hot' autumn of protest brews

Protest in Madrid against austerity and constitutional changes, September 6.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

September 11, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Spain the signs are unmistakable: a “hot autumn” of political and social conflict is brewing in the run-up to the November 20, 2011, general election. Polling night will reveal how much the growing social resistance, brought onto the streets since May largely by the 15-M movement of “indignants”, has shaken up the political scene.

As things stand, the most likely result is a repeat of the wipe-out suffered by the governing social-democratic Spanish  Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) at the May elections for local council and regional governments (known as “autonomous communities”).\

A September 7 the Barometro Cope opinion poll has the right-wing opposition Popular Party (PP) winning  45.1% of the vote and 51.1% of seats.It would trounce the PSOE, which is widely blamed for Spain’s 5 million unemployed. The poll shows the PSOE would win only 31.1% of votes and 36.6% of seats.

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