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Catalonia

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 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.

* * *

By Manel García Biel

Rebellious Catalan vote rocks Spanish establishment

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

By Dick Nichols

November 12, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On November 9, 2.305 million residents of Catalonia defied a November 4 Spanish Constitutional Court ban and voted on what future political status they wanted for their country, which is presently one of the 17 “autonomous communities” (regional governments) within the Spanish state.

This “participatory process” presented voters with the same ballot paper as the original non-binding consultation that had been adopted by the Catalan parliament on September 26. That too had been suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court on appeal by the national government of People’s Party (PP) Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

After this first legal veto the Catalan minority government of right-nationalist party Convergence and Union (CiU) adopted a substitute ballot for November 9, one that had more the status of a mass survey of public opinion than a formal plebiscite.

Catalan national struggle enters critical stage

On the day after the Constitutional Court decision, the squares of Catalonia’s towns were full to the brim with protesters.

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

By Dick Nichols

October 12, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On September 29, the normally sluggish Spanish legal system had an attack of extreme speed. Its Usain Bolt-like behaviour was sparked by the regional government of Catalonia formally decreeing the long-awaited November 9 non-binding consultation of Catalan opinion [referendum] on the future political status of the region.

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.”

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