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By Dick Nichols
February 3, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – On January 21, in Bilbao’s hyper-modern Euskalduna Conference Centre, the Basque left pro-independence party Sortu concluded its refoundation congress by finalising the election of its 29-member national council.
The congress had brought together Sortu members from all parts of the divided Basque Country: its four southern districts in the Spanish state, presently covered by the regional administrations of Navarra and the Basque Autonomous Community (Euskadi) and its three northern districts in the French coastal department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.
By Dick Nichols
March 9, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On March 1, all media outlets in the Spanish state were dominated by the images of two men: one was leaving prison near the northern city of Logroño to the cheers of inmates he was leaving behind; the other was trying to convince the Spanish parliament in Madrid to vote him in as prime minister.
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.
For more on politics in Spain, click HERE.
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.
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.
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.
Supporters of the Madrid Now! ticket await the results of the regional and municipal elections in Madrid, May 24, 2015.
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.
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.
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.
More analysis of politics in the Spanish state.
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.”
[See a table containing the results for the European left, Green and left nationalist parties HERE.]
By EH Bildu
May 30, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal
Results in Euskadi (Basque Country in Spanish state)
EH Bildu (EHB) 20.91%
Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) 20.29%
People’s Party (PP) 18.42%
"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).
By Emma Clancy
March 10. 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- The Spanish government’s response to the move by armed Basque pro-independence organisation Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA) to put its weapons beyond use has clearly demonstrated it favours continuing conflict over peace.
On February 21, ETA released a video showing two of its members meeting with representatives of the International Verification Commission. The IVC were inspecting weapons that had been put beyond operational use.
IVC spokesperson Ram Manikkalingam said that day: “The commission is confident that this step is significant and credible.” ETA published a statement on March 1 declaring it had begun the process of putting its entire arsenal beyond use.
The Amsterdam-based IVC is not recognised by the Spanish government. Consisting of six high-profile international experts in conflict resolution, it formed in 2011 to monitor and verify ETA’s permanent ceasefire. Its members have worked on conflict resolution in Sri Lanka, Iraq and Ireland.
March 4, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Speech by Florian Wilde, of Germany's radical left party Die Linke, at the March 1 "Fight the Troika" meeting in Bilbao. It was held the day before a meeting of the European Commission summit on the Spanish economy.
By Dick Nichols
January 19, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- For decades the People’s Party (PP) of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has believed it has a reliable gun in its political holster—unbending opposition to anything that could be portrayed as linked to Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA), the left-nationalist armed organisation responsible for more than 800 deaths in its 50-year-long fight against the Spanish state.
However, since ETA’s declaration two years ago of a permanent ceasefire, this particular weapon has started to backfire on the Spanish state’s ruling conservative party.
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%).
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.
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.
* * *
How did EH Bildu form and why did it achieve such good results?
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.”
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
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.