Barcelona

By the narrowest of margins (167 votes to 165 with 18 abstentions), the 350-seat Spanish Congress invested a coalition government of the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the more radical Unidas Podemos (UP) on January 7.

No Spanish prime minister has ever been elected by so low and so close a vote: eight of the parliament’s eighteen parties voted in favour, eight against and two abstained.

On November 12, largely in reaction to the rise of the right-wing Vox, Socialist Workers' Party leader Pedro Sánchez and Unidas Podemos' Pablo Iglesias stitched up a pre-agreement for government in less than 48 hours, writes Dick Nichols.

The final act in a week of protest in Catalonia, against the vindictive jail terms imposed on nine Catalan leaders by the Spanish Supreme Court on October 14, was a general strike and vast demonstration in the capital, Barcelona.

Infuriated by the verdict, frustrated with the strategy of the established independence movement (seen as “getting nowhere”), and most of all, outraged by police violence, young Catalans, who had never been on a barricade in their lives, decided that “direct action” was the only solution, writes Dick Nichols.

After the Spanish Supreme Court sentenced nine political and social Catalan leaders on October 12 to a total of 99.5 years jail for organising the October 1, 2017 independence referendum, the struggle for the country’s right to self-determination entered a new phase.

The 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 do not want to know anything about it, was already very wide 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 most likely became unbridgeable, writes Dick Nichols from Barcelona.

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 on September 17 that he lacked the support to form a government. As a result, another general election will be held on November 10.

Occupying the Plaça d’Espanya and surrounding streets on September 11, 600,000 people came out in Barcelona to celebrate Catalan National Day (the Diada).

The vast crowd demanded the acquittal of jailed Catalan social movement and political leaders, presently awaiting a Spanish Supreme Court verdict on charges of rebellion, sedition and embezzlement.

So intense is Unidas Podemos’ desire to sit around the cabinet table with Spain's social democratic government that leader Pablo Iglesias managed to convince Together We Can, the Catalan coalition in which UP participates, to abandon its main policy — a negotiated referendum as condition for supporting a PSOE-led administration, writes Dick Nichols.

In the May 26 European elections, Spanish social democratic party PSOE made gains, largely at the expense of the left wing Podemos. The PSOE delegation is now the largest S&D presence in the European parliament and will be the backbone of ongoing attempts to break the back of the Catalan sovereignty movement, writes Dick Nichols.

The electoral defeat of the right in Spain on April 28 is a cause for celebration for all progressive people, writes Dick Nichols.

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