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 Catalonia’s right to self-determination began four years ago.
Since the two-party political establishment in the Spanish state ― the People’s Party (PP) of prime minister Mariano Rajoy and the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) ― got less than 50% in the May 25 European elections, its nightmares have been getting scarier. The spectre disturbing their sleep is Podemos, the political expression of the indignado movement that in May 2011 exploded against austerity and corruption and for “real democracy”.
If anyone can get the different forces of the Catalan left to unite in support of a common cause, it is Ada Colau. The spokesperson of the anti-eviction Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH) until early May, Colau is almost certainly the most popular and respected social activist in the Spanish state. On June 26, Colau launched Let’s Win Barcelona platform for next year's May municipal elections in the Catalan capital.
The five seats and 7.9% won by the new Podemos (“We Can”) ticket in the May 25 European election was an earthquake in Spanish politics. Podemos was inspired by the indignado movement that exploded across the Spanish state in 2011 against austerity and for “real democracy”. The movement was driven by mass popular assemblies, which provided a striking counter-point to the frequently corrupt “politics as usual”.
An old truism says that in periods of crisis, politics speeds up. That is being strikingly confirmed in the Spanish state after the June 2 abdication of King Juan Carlos. So too is its corollary ― that institutions that seemed solid and long-lasting suddenly look out-of-date and fragile.
As news spread of the abdication of the Spanish king Juan Carlos on June 2, 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. Probably the favourite in my local bar of young and old unemployed, read: “With Mariano Rajoy [Spanish prime minister] in charge, even the king gets to lose his job.”
“Riot police were on standby as tens of thousands took to the streets in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities across Spain on Monday to demand a vote on whether to rid Spain of its royal family,” Al Jazeera reported on June 3.
Willy Meyer, who was elected to European parliament in the May poll as lead candidate for United Left (IU), has demanded a binding referendum to allow the people of Spain to choose between the current model of a parliamentary monarchy or a republic. The call came after the June 2 announcement of Spain's King Juan Carlos that he would abdicate in favour of his son, Felipe.
The European parliamentary poll on May 25 was dominated by the victories of the xenophobic and racist National Front (FN) in France (26%, 24 Members of the European Parliament) and the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in Britain (26.8%, 24 MEPs) — triggering a fit of mainstream media angst. The angst is understandable. Five years after the 2009 European elections, the political basis for the European Commission’s austerity drive has been severely weakened. This has rendered “governance” of the 28-member European Union even more difficult. Far right strengthens
The Spanish congress met in Madrid on April 8 to hear a petition from the parliament of Catalonia: that the power to hold a non-binding referendum on its political future be granted to Catalonia under Section 150 of the Spanish constitution.