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United Left (Spain)

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Spain: Socialist Party leader’s shock rebirth unnerves establishment

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 31, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The plan had seemed so well organised. Its first stage was successfully executed on October 1 last year when the ruling elite in the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) got the party’s 250-strong Federal Political Committee (FPC) to force the resignation of general secretary Pedro Sánchez (see account here).

 

Sánchez’s crime had been his refusal, after the inconclusive June 26 general election last year, to allow the formation of a minority People’s Party (PP) government through PSOE abstention. He had also proposed to have this refusal put to the PSOE membership for endorsement and to have a new primary for the position of general secretary.

 

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.

 

Spanish state: big issues for Podemos left unresolved by congress

 
 

By Dick Nichols

March 11, 2017 Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal In the end the close result that participants and commentators alike were expecting never happened: at the second congress (“citizens’ assembly”) of the radical Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos, held in Madrid on February 11-12, the proposals and candidate list of outgoing general secretary Pablo Iglesias easily defeated those of outgoing political secretary Iñigo Errejón.

 

Podemos Congress: The three main positions at Vistalegre II

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.

 

Spanish general election: snapshot of a big disappointment

 

 

Spain's June 26 national elections saw the right-wing Popular Party win 137 seats (up 14 from the December 2015 elections), while the left-wing United We Can coalition won an addition two seats (up to 71), failing to overtake the Spanish Socialist Workers Party as the biggest party on the left.

 

By Dick Nichols

 

July 1, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The key question about the result of the June 26 Spanish general election is also the most difficult to answer: why did 1.09 million people, who in the December 20 elections voted for Podemos, the United Left (IU) and the three broader progressive convergences Together We Can (Catalonia), Podemos-Commitment (Valencian Country) and In Tide (Galicia), not vote for the combined Podemos-IU ticket United We Can and these convergences at this poll?

 

The election saw an increased vote for the ruling People's Party (PP) while the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) held off the seemingly unstoppable charge of United We Can and allies towards supplanting it as the leading force of the left.

 

Spanish general election: United We Can knocking at the door

 

 

The United We Can campaign is generating enormous enthusiasm and by far the biggest rally crowds of any of the parties in the lead up to the June 26 general elections in the Spanish state.

 

By Dick Nichols

 

June 21, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal a much shorter version of this article was published in Green Left Weekly — The Spanish and European establishments have, at the time of writing, less than a week to lock the door against the advance of the progressive alliance United We Can (Unidos Podemos) in the June 26 general elections in the Spanish state.

 

How are they doing? As matters stand, not very well.

Spain: Can the Left’s economic plan turn back austerity?

 

 

The left-wing coalition Unidos Podemos (United We Can), is currently polling over 25% and looks set to surpass the vote of the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE).

 


By Dick Nichols

 

June 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal a much shorter version of this article was first published at Green Left Weekly — United We Can — the joint ticket made up of Podemos, the United Left (IU), the green party Equo and three broader alliances in Catalonia (Together We Can), Galicia (In Tide) and the Valencian Country (A la Valenciana) — is campaigning in the June 26 Spanish general election on a plan to reverse economic austerity.

 

Spain: As Podemos and United Left join forces, is a left government in sight?

 

 

United Left (IU) spokesperson Alberto Garzón and Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 31, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal a much shorter version of this article was first published at Green Left Weekly — Five months after the December 20 election in Spain failed to produce a government, the country is returning to the polls in the most polarised contest since the end of the Franco dictatorship in 1977.

 

The stakes could not be higher. The “second round” election on June 26 could open the door to the final breakdown of the two-party system and the beginning of a deep-going democratisation of the Spanish state and politics: or it could drive all parties defending the status quo into a last-ditch alliance against the forces for radical change.

 

Podemos and the crisis of the Spanish state

 

People hold up banners during a Podemos march in Madrid in January 2015

 

March 13, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from SpectreZine -- Early in February Australian Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal correspondent Dick Nichols, who reports from Catalonia, was interviewed by the Dutch Socialist Party monthly Spanning. Spanning of course published it in Dutch. Below is an edited version of the original interview published on March 1.

 

Spanish state: Basque leader Otegi freed as Podemos-PSOE war intensifies

 

Basque independence movement leader Arnaldo Otegi at a welcoming party in his home town of Elgoibar following his release from prison on March 1.

 

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.

 

After Spanish elections: establishment in funk over Podemos

 

Supporters of left-wing political force Podemos celebrate the strong showing for their party in the December 20 general elections

 


 By Dick Nichols

 

February 12, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In an article that appeared in the January 24 edition of the Spanish daily El País, Pablo Iglesias, secretary-general of the radical Spanish political force Podemos, spells out his view of the kind of government the Spanish state needs after the December 20 general election produced a broadly left social majority but no clear majority coalition in the 350-seat Spanish parliament.

 

The governing conservative People's Party (PP) won 123 seats and the right-populist Citizens 40. On the left, the main opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) won 90 seats, while Podemos and the three people’s unity alliances in which it participated in Catalonia, Galicia and the Valencian Community won 69. The other seats went to the United Left-Popular Unity (IU-UP), and Catalan, Basque and Canary Island nationalist forces.

 

Decisive for determining what sort of government Spain will get — or if it will have to go to early elections — is which way the PSOE will jump in the wheeling-and-dealing presently taking place among the parties.

 

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias on a 'government of change' for Spain

By Pablo Iglesias, translated by Dick Nichols

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The result of the December 20 election put an end to Spain's political shift-system, and opened up the historical possibility of our country having a government not exclusively dominated by the old party machines that have shared power over the last decades.

For the first time, Spain could have a pluralist and progressive government disconnected enough from past practices to: guarantee the introduction in its first 100 days of a program of immediate emergency social support; lead the constitutional change that the citizens are calling for; provide democratic solutions and new formulae of coexistence to meet the territorial crisis; and with fresh blood purge the parasitism from our institutions.

Catalogna: il premier si suicida per consentire la formazione di un governo a favore dell’indipendenza

 
[English at http://links.org.au/node/4600 ] di Dick Nichols, traduzione di Giuseppe Volpe ZNet Italy

 

19 gennaio 2016 – Il 9 gennaio il titolo di prima pagina di La Vanguardia, il quotidiano filo-sistema della Catalogna, diceva: “Insieme Per Il Sì e CUP esauriscono le opzioni di accordo: il fallimento dei negoziati apre la via alle elezioni il 6 marzo”.

 

I dialoghi all’interno della maggioranza filo-indipendenza del parlamento catalano – composta dalla convenzionale coalizione Insieme Per Il Sì e dall’anticapitalista Candidature Popolari Unite – Appello Costituente (CUP-CC) – erano alla fine crollati dopo più di tre mesi di incontri. Questa maggioranza era emersa dalle elezioni “plebiscitarie” catalane del 27 settembre, convocate come sostituto del referendum in stile scozzese che è sempre stato respinto dai maggiori partiti spagnoli, il Partito Popolare (PP) al governo e il Partito Socialista Spagnolo dei Lavoratori (PSOE).

 

Nonostante l’intervento all’ultimo minuto delle tre organizzazioni di massa del nazionalismo catalano – il Congresso Nazionale Catalano (ANC), l’Associazione delle Municipalità per l’Indipendenza (AMI) e il movimento per la cultura catalana Omnium Cultural – il CUP-CC continuava a rifiutarsi di accettare il premier pro tempore Artur Mas come capo del primo governo filo-indipendenza della Catalogna.

 

Catalonia: Premier falls on sword to allow pro-independence government to form

 

Artur Mas announced he would be stepping down from the role of premier of Catalonia on January 9 in order to help pave the way for the formation of the region's first pro-independence government

 

By Dick Nichols

 

January 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On January 9, the front-page headline of La Vanguardia, Catalonia's establishment daily read: “Together For Yes and the CUP exhaust options for agreement — failure of negotiations opens the way for elections on March 6.”

 

Talks within the pro-independence majority in the Catalan parliament — composed of the mainstream Together For Yes coalition and the anti-capitalist People's Unity Candidacies-Constituent Call (CUP-CC) — had finally collapsed after over three months of meetings. This majority had emerged from Catalonia's September 27 “plebiscitary” elections, called as a substitute for the Scottish-style referendum that has always been refused by Spain's major parties, the ruling People's Party (PP) and the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE).

 

Despite the last-minute intervention of the three mass organisations of Catalan nationalism — the Catalan National Congress (ANC), the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI) and the movement for Catalan culture Omnium Cultural—the CUP-CC was still refusing to accept acting premier Artur Mas as head of Catalonia's first pro-independence government.

 

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