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national question (Spain)

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.

Basque Country: EH Bildu on the 2014 European election

For more coverage of the 2014 European elections, click HERE.

[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%

Madrid’s Basque stance absurd and untenable

For more on the Basque Country, click HERE. For more on politics in Spain, click HERE.

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.

Basque Country: Huge march advances struggle for peace, national rights

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.

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.

Galicia: Anova's bruising congress a ‘collective apprenticeship’

By Dick Nichols

July 7, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The mainstream media were taken aback: why was the first congress of the Galician left nationalist organisation Anova — the key component along with the United Left (EU in Galicia, IU nationally) in Galicia of the hugely successful Galician Left Alternative (AGE) — so heated and acrimonious, at times reaching the point of “shambles” (the term of the chairperson)?

How come the 16-month-old Anova — vital to AGE winning 14% of the vote in the October 2012 Galician regional elections and now at the point of overtaking the Galician affiliate of the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) in the polls — was having a congress marked by dissent from the rulings of the presiding committee, fierce lobbying of delegates and in-the-corridors distribution of four how-to-vote cards for different tickets for the national coordinating committee?

It was left to Xosé Manuel Beiras, historic leader of Galician left nationalism and Anova’s unanimously re-elected spokesperson, to help the media — and some shell-shocked delegates — grasp what had happened in the Congress Centre of Santiago de Compostela, capital of Galicia, on June 8-9, 2013.

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%).

Sortu and Basque left nationalism’s strategic relaunch

For more coverage of the Basque struggle, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

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.

Basque Country: Movement for sovereignty and socialism on the rise

For more coverage of the Basque struggle, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

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?

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).

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%).

Behind the rise of the Galician Left Alternative: Interview with Xosé Manuel Beiras

Xosé-Manuel Beiras.

For more on the Galician Left Alternative, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

Xosé-Manuel Beiras interviewed by Daniel Raventós, translated for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Dick Nichols

Xosé-Manuel Beiras, 76, has been a prominent figure nationalist left politics in Galicia since the 1960s. In 1963 he helped found the Galician Socialist Party (PSG, Partido Socialista Galego), illegal under the Franco dictatorship, and later became its international secretary and then general secretary (1971-77).

In 1982 Beiras participated in the founding of the Galician Nationalist Bloc (BNG, Bloco Nacionalista Galego), entering its leadership. In 1985 he was elected as a BNG candidate to the 75-seat Galician parliament, and was re-elected in 1989, becoming the BNG’s parliamentary spokesperson. Upon further re-election in 1993 Beiras was also elected as the BNG’s national spokesperson at its seventh national assembly.

Spain: Inspiring rise of the ‘Galician SYRIZA’ (+ AGE program)

For more on the Galician Left Alternative, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols

November 5, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On the morning of October 22, the day after elections to the parliaments of the Basque and Galician autonomous communities of the Spanish state, the TV and radio political pundits were struggling to be wise. Their powers of analysis were not tested so much by the rise of EH Bildu, the Basque left-nationalist coalition—the polls had predicted its vote of 25%. The disorienting new phenomenon was result for the new Galician Left Alternative (Alternativa Galega de Esquerda, AGE).

Just six weeks old and already widely dubbed the “Galician SYRIZA”, AGE won 14% of the vote and nine seats in the 75-seat parliament. The average of poll predictions for AGE before the election was three to four seats and 6 to 7 per cent of the vote.

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.

Basque Country: Behind the rise of the EH Bildu left coalition

EH Bildu's main election rally.

By Dick Nichols

October 22, 2012 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On October 21, in probably the most powerful performance in the history of Basque politics, the left nationalist coalition Euskal Herria Bildu (EH Bildu, Basque Country Assembly) won 25% of the vote and 21 seats in the elections for 75-seat parliament of the Basque Autonomous Community (Euskadi) in the Spanish state. The rise of the EH Bildu came at the expense of all other parties.

(The seven regions of the Basque Country lie between Spain and France. The three provinces of Euskadi — Biskaia, Gipuskoa and Araba — plus the autonomous community of Navarra form its southern zone, Hegoalde, while three regions within the French department of Pyrenées Atlantiques form its northern zone, Iparralde.)

Over the years since the end of the Franco dictatorship the Basque left nationalist vote has varied greatly, depending whether the party representing it was legal or outlawed, or whether the movement was advocating an election boycott. Its highest previous vote for the Euskadi parliament was the 17.9% (14 seats) won by Eusko Herritarrok (EH, Basque Citizens) in 1998. In the October 21 election an extra 50,000 people voted for EH Bildu.

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%?

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