A central pillar of the Spanish economic and political establishment came crashing down on Paril 16. Rodrigo Rato, former deputy prime minister in the 1996-2004 People’s Party (PP) government of Jose Maria Aznar and head of the International Monetary Fund from 2004 to 2007, was detained on suspicion of tax evasion, concealment of assets and fraud.
On November 9, 2.305 million residents of Catalonia defied a November 4 Spanish Constitutional Court ruling and voted on what future political status they wanted for their country, now one of the 17 “autonomous communities” (regions) within the Spanish state. Because of their rebellion — festive but determined — it was not just another voting day. Initiative for Catalonia-Greens (ICV) co-coordinator Joan Herrera called it “the biggest demonstration in the history of this country”.
Millions of residents of Catalonia will indicate their preference for the future political status of their country, one of the 17 “autonomous communities” (regional governments) within the Spanish state, in the November 9 Catalan “participatory process”. The “process” will present voters with the same ballot paper as the original non-binding consultation adopted by the Catalan parliament on September 26 — which was immediately suspended by the Spanish Constitutional Court. Its asks: “(1) Do you want Catalonia to become a state? (2) If yes, do you want that state to be independent?”
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.
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.”
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
During the six years of economic crisis in Europe, its elites have not just attacked the living standards of workers, unemployed and poor. They’ve also been engaged in a three-and-a-half year scrap among themselves. Their fight is over a financial transactions tax (FTT), first mooted by the European Commission (EC) in October 2010 for all 28 members states of the European Union. It was finally agreed to in January last year by 11 Eurozone members ― Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and Slovakia (the “EU11”). Aims