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Dick Nichols

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Spanish state: Forward Andalusia refounded as home of the Andalusist left

 

 

By Dick Nichols

July 21, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On June 26, in a theatre with a panoramic view of Granada’s Alhambra, the refoundation congress took place of Forward Andalusia, a political force with the ambition to be “an instrument for the emancipation of the Andalusian people” (words of newly elected spokesperson Teresa Rodríguez). The congress adopted three documents, on political line, feminism and organisation, completing a six-month-long reconstruction of Forward Andalusia as common home of the Andalusist left.

Launched last December by the coalition’s four affiliate organisations — Andalusian Spring (PA), Andalusist Left (IA), Defending Andalusia (DA) and Anticapitalists Andalusia — this process took the form of a “bottom-up” public discussion called “Andalusia Doesn’t Surrender!” Over 2000 participants across the eight provinces of Spain’s southernmost mainland region got involved in the exchange, which took place in 26 local organising centres. 

Spain: PSOE ‘pardons’ Catalan political prisoners to better fight Catalan rights

 

 

By Dick Nichols

July 1, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Who is that attacking Catalonia’s Catholic bishops and the Spanish Confederation of Employer Organisations (CEOE), Spanish big capital’s peak body? An anarchist? An indignado? No, try the other end of the political spectrum: it’s Pablo Casado, leader of the conservative opposition People’s Party (PP).

Ever since news of the impending pardon of the nine Catalan leaders imprisoned over the October 1, 2017 independence referendum became public knowledge in late May, the PP leader has been up in arms, determined to stop anyone, no matter how rich or how holy, from approving Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez’s plan for early release of those who flouted Spain’s unity.

On June 21, the PP leader sounded the direst of warnings about this decision of the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos (UP). The goal of the criminal alliance supporting the pardon — Sánchez, UP and “the nationalists” — was the destruction of Spain and the PP.

Spanish state: behind the hard right’s win in the Community of Madrid

 

 

By Dick Nichols

May 11, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — It is far too early to be confident about whether the overwhelming victory of the right and far right in the May 4 Community of Madrid election is a harbinger of things to come in the Spanish state.

That the result marks a turn of the political tide is, of course, the hope and forecast of the victorious right-wing People’s Party (PP) and the racist far-right Vox. Just as inevitably, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the forces to its left—the Greens-like More Madrid and the radical Unidas Podemos (UP)—desire and predict that this apparent surge of reaction will prove to be a short-lived, Madrid-specific, nightmare.

Irrespective of which of the tendencies revealed on May 4 turn out to be long-lasting or fleeting, we need to register them and ask why they emerged.

Forming government after the Catalan elections: Who is left? Who is right?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

March 19, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The standard political terms “right” and “left” originally grouped supporters and opponents of the French monarchy according to their place in the National Assembly born of the 1789 Revolution: monarchists sat to the right of the speaker, revolutionaries to the left. Since then, the terms have been used to classify parties and elected representatives according to their attitude to the prevailing political order. 

These necessary words must be used with great care when that order is constituted by a multinational state that denies the right of self-determination to its various peoples, as in the case of the Kingdom of Spain. Politics in states like Spain is a minefield because it operates on a double axis: it moves “left and right” along the scale of social and class interests but also “up and down” the scale running from full recognition to total rejection of the right of stateless peoples to choose their relation to the regime ruling over them.

Catalan elections analysed: what now after Spanish unionist assault repelled?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

February 25, 2021 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The February 14 elections in Catalonia took place in a phantasmagorical setting created by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ruling of the High Court of Justice of Catalonia that they had to go ahead despite the danger of an increased infection rate in a country where 20,000 have already died of the pandemic.

As a result, 25% of the 90,000 citizens chosen by ballot to staff polling stations requested exemption; candidates gave rousing speeches to vacant halls while thousands of eyes watched on over Zoom, and the TV debates between the lead candidates were weird combinations of robotic set speeches and uncontrollable screaming matches.

With COVID-19 still raging in a half locked-down country, it was inevitable that the abstention rate would surge and decide the main issue in the elections: would the independentist majority in the Catalan parliament withstand the onslaught of Spanish unionism, this time carried out under the banner of the Party of Socialists of Catalonia (PSC), the Catalan affiliate of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE)?

Spain: a budget for an ecological, feminist and socially just recovery?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

November 20, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The Spanish government of Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) prime minister Pedro Sánchez and Unidas Podemos (UP) second deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias launched their 2021 draft budget with great fanfare on October 27. For the proud parents, their newborn fiscal package — the first since 2018 — will inaugurate “a new epoch that definitively leaves behind the phase of neoliberalism and cuts to the public sector” (Iglesias): it will also “mark a turning point in our economic model” (Sánchez).

Not that the birth was painless: up until the day before the draft budget was to go before cabinet UP was tweeting that it could not be adopted because they did not agree. UP only relented after stitching up late-night deals with the PSOE on relaxing conditions for access to the Minimum Living Wage and adopting a law to allow rent control by regional and local government.

The COVID-19 crisis in the Spanish state: "We can't go on living as per usual"

 

 

Interview with Dick Nichols

March 28, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — As the Spanish state attempts to deal with its spiralling COVID-19 death toll—over 4000 as of March 27 and second only to Italy in Europe—Federico Fuentes spoke to Dick Nichols, Green Left’s Weekly’s European correspondent based in Barcelona, about the debates engulfing country, the government's response, including its "nationalisation" (or not) of private hospitals, and how, among all the anguish, people’s solidarity is shining through.

Spain: Storm clouds gather as PSOE-UP government formed

 

 

By Dick Nichols

January 13, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — By the narrowest of margins (167 votes to 165 with 18 abstentions), the 350-seat Spanish Congress invested Pedro Sánchez as prime minister of a coalition government of the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the more radical Unidas Podemos on January 7. No Spanish prime minister has ever been elected by so low and so close a vote, with eight of the parliament’s eighteen parties in favour, eight against and two abstaining.

The January 4-7 investiture sessions of PSOE candidate Sánchez took place amid scenes of hysterical vituperation and attempted sabotage by the formerly governing People’s Party (PP), the ultra-right Vox and the neoliberal Citizens. The leaders and MPs of this triple-headed Spanish-patriotic bloc strove to outdo each other in their abuse of Sánchez and the “social-communist” PSOE-UP coalition. 

The PSOE candidate finally won office due to the 18 abstentions of what the right called the "secessionist coup-plotters" and the "terrorists” — the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the Basque left-independentist EH Bildu. Their vote guaranteed Sánchez the relative majority needed to win office after he failed to achieve an absolute majority in the first round  on January 5.

Danish Red-Green Alliance congress: organising for climate and social justice

 

 


By Dick Nichols

 

October 28, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — This year’s Annual Meeting (congress) of Denmark’s Red-Green Alliance (RGA), its 30th, took place in Copenhagen on October 5-6 in a political context that contrasted strongly with that of its predecessor, held in April 2018.

 

Eighteen months ago the 300-plus delegates of the RGA (known in Denmark as the Unity List—the Red-Greens) were preparing for a general election they hoped would lift the RGA into the role of main challenger to the Social Democrats for hegemony over what in Danish politics is called the "red bloc". Composed of the Social Democrats, the Socialist People’s Party (SF), the Social Liberals and the RGA, the red bloc has historically competed against its "blue" rival—the Liberals, Danish People’s Party (DF), Conservatives and Liberal Alliance—for the majority support that decides whether Social Democrats or Liberals will head the Danish government.

 

Catalonia after the sentence: the tsunami of protest driving Spanish politics

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

October 28, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The emotional gap between the 75%-80% of Catalans who uphold their country’s right to self-determination and the Spanish elites and parts of Spanish society that just want to see it wiped out was already enormous before October 14. But on that day, when the Spanish Supreme Court condemned nine Catalan political and social movement leaders to a total of 99.5 years jail, it probably became unbridgeable.

 

Since October 14, in bars, restaurants and public transport across Catalonia, there has been practically no other topic of conversation than the Spanish court’s vindictive sentences against the twelve leaders of the October 1, 2017 independence referendum and the torrents of protest that the verdict has provoked.

 

An immediate indicator of the profound indignation the verdict caused was that every last social, recreational, scientific, artistic and sporting organisation— from the most to the least political, from Barcelona Football Club to the Catalan Association for the Defence and Study of Nature— immediately issued statements condemning the sentences.

 

Punishment without crime: the judgment against the Catalan leaders analysed

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

October 22, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The unanimous verdict of the seven Supreme Court judges that set off the still expanding wave of protest that has engulfed Catalonia was calculatedly vindictive. The nine Catalan leaders—seven former ministers and social movement leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart—were found guilty of “sedition” for preparing the October 1, 2017 Catalan referendum of self-determination. For this eighteenth-century crime, long deleted from the penal codes of many other European states, they were sentenced to jail terms ranging from 9 to 13 years.

 

The harshest sentence was handed out to former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras as “leader of the sedition”. Former ministers Raül Romeva (foreign affairs), Dolors Bassa (social welfare) and Jordi Turull (minister of state) came next with 12 years: along with Junqueras they were also found guilty of “embezzlement”.

 

Former Catalan parliament speaker Carme Forcadell incurred 11.5 years jail for allowing the chamber to vote on the referendum’s enabling law after being instructed by the Spanish Constitutional Court not to do so.

 

Denmark’s Red-Greens: what answers when the climate crisis shakes up politics?

 

 

Interview with Red-Green Alliance MP Søren Søndergaard

 

October 14, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Former metal worker Søren Søndergaard, who presently represents the outer Copenhagen electorate of Gladsaxe in the Danish parliament, has a long history in radical left politics. In the 1980s, he was part of the daily leadership of the Socialist Workers Party, one of the three founding organisations of the Red-Green Alliance (RGA), known in Denmark as the Unity List—the Red-Greens.

 

Søndergaard was a member of the Danish Parliament from 1994 to 2005 and Gladsaxe Town Council from 2006 to 2007, He also served as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

 

In 2007, Søndergaard was elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the People’s Movement against the European Union (EU). After resigning this position in 2014, he won election to the Danish parliament in 2015 as an RGA MP for Gladsaxe: he was re-elected in the June 5 general election this year.

 

Spanish general election: can a divided left keep out the right?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

September 30, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On September 17, Spain’s acting Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and winner of the April 28 general election, informed King Philip that he didn’t have enough support to form government. If nothing changed by the September 23 deadline for a proposal for government, new elections would be held on November 10.

 

Talks with the radical force Unidas Podemos (UP), a coalition of the United Left (IU) and Podemos, had collapsed and consequently the other two sources of support promised the PSOE—the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV)—also withdrew their backing for Sánchez’s investiture. In over four months of languid negotiations, the acting prime minister had managed to add only one vote to the PSOE’s 124 in the 350-seat Spanish Congress—that of the Regionalist Party of Cantabria (PRC). 

 

Catalan sovereignty movement: disoriented or preparing to fight back?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

September 22, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Below is a fragment of a conversation I had the day after 600,000 came out in Barcelona on September 11 to celebrate this year’s Catalan National Day (the Diada).

 

Occupying the Plaça d’Espanya and the surrounding streets, the vast crowd demanded the acquittal of the 12 Catalan social movement and political leaders presently awaiting a Spanish Supreme Court verdict on charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement, the release of the nine of them who have been in preventive detention for up to nearly two years, and an independence referendum.

 

Most of all, however, it called for a united strategy from the leaderships of the tension-ridden Catalan sovereignty and independence movement. Let the political parties—Together for Catalonia (JxCat), the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the People’s Unity List (CUP)—and the mass organisations—the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium Cultural—get their act together and show a way forward.

 

Ada Colau re-elected as Barcelona mayor—but at what price?

 

 

By Dick Nichols

June 30, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Compare these two scenes, which took place in Barcelona’s central St James Square after the election of the city’s mayor, the first four years ago and the second on June 15.

On June 13, 2015, successful candidate Ada Colau, former spokesperson of the Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH) and leader of the radical mass-meeting based movement Barcelona Together (BeC), takes ten minutes to lead the city’s 41 newly elected councillors in their traditional walk across the square from the town hall to the Catalan government building on the other side. An enormously enthusiastic crowd presses in on all sides to greet her, to endless shouts of Si, se puede! (“Yes, we can!”)—a celebration of the conquest of Barcelona Council by BeC’s anti-establishment, participatory, ecological and feminist. radical municipalism.

Fast forward to June 15, 2019. This time the newly successful Colau crosses the square to a chorus of whistles, boos, and ugly sexist abuse from a small group. The councillors wearing their red sashes of office walking with her is also one representative short. Missing is Joaquim Forn, leader in the council of Together for Catalonia (JxCat), party of exiled Catalan ex-president Carles Puigdemont.

Spanish elections: The right defeated and Catalonia’s right to decide re-asserted

 

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

May 12, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — How strongly would the filthy brown tide of reactionthe vote for the racist, xenophobic, islamophobic, anti-feminist, homophobic, pro-gun and above all anti-Catalan outfit Vox—run at the Spanish April 28 general election?  That question was on everyone’s lips in the last week of the campaign.

 

Spanish state: candidate preselection turmoil as ‘existential’ election looms

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

March 26 
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — According to Josep Borrell, outgoing Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) foreign minister and self-appointed scourge of the movement for Catalan sovereignty, the April 28 general elections will be «existential» for the Spanish state. For People’s Party (PP) opposition leader Pablo Casado they will be a "referendum on the secessionist menace".

 

This shared judgment of Spain’s "parties of government" would only have been heightened by the resounding success of the March 16 Madrid demonstration "Self-Determination is not a Crime: Democracy is Deciding". The rally, organised by the Catalan National Assembly, Òmnium Cultural and the platform Women and Men of Madrid for the Right to Decide, brought into the capital up to 120,000 supporters of the right to self-determination of the nations of the Spanish state. The size and spirit of the demonstration marked an important step ahead down the long road to a democratic alternative to Spanish state unionism.

 

Spanish state: an early election about breaking the Catalan struggle

 

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

February 25, 2019 Links International Journal of Socialist RenewalPedro Sánchez, prime minister of Spain’s minority Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government, announced on February 15 that the country would vote on April 28.  The election comes 15 months short of a full term and only nine months after the previous People’s Party (PP) government of Sánchez’s predecessor Mariano Rajoy fell to a PSOE censure motion in the Spanish Congress.

 

The censure motion was supported by the rest of the all-Spanish left (Podemos and the United Left), the alliances in which they participate in Galicia, Catalonia and the Valencian Country (respectively In Tide, Together We Can and A La Valenciana) and by nearly all nationalist forces, left and right.

 

These were the conservative Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) and the left pro-independence Basque alliance EH Bildu, the conservative Catalan European Democratic Party (PDECat) and the centre-left Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC) and the New Canary Islands group.

 

Once in government, Sánchez, with only 84 PSOE seats in the 350-seat Congress, had to negotiate support for his legislative program bill by bill. Nonetheless, he had been saying before the announcement that his government would run its full term. Why did he change his mind?

 

Spain’s ‘socialist’ government to US: ‘Coup against Maduro? We’re in!’

 

 

 

By Dick Nichols

 

February 9, 2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — On February 15, 2003, in the face of the looming US-led war against Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, the Spanish state saw the biggest demonstrations in its history. Part of a worldwide anti-war outpouring, about four million people turned out on the day, with 1.3 million in Barcelona, a million in Madrid and half-a-million in Valencia.

 

Leaders of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) were among those at the head of these oceanic demonstrations, which directly targeted the conservative Spanish People’s Party (PP) government of prime minister José María Aznar.

 

Renewed Sortu sets 2026 as target date for sovereign Basque Republic

 

 

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.

 

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