Spain

Nothing alarms Spain’s establishment more than the prospect of the unity of the Spanish state being threatened by the desire for self-determination of the peoples that live within its borders.

The plan had seemed so well organised.

Its first stage was executed on October 1 last year when the ruling elite of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) got the party’s Federal Political Committee (FPC) to force the resignation of general secretary Pedro Sanchez.

Two major anniversaries recently marked the significant change that has taken place on the Spanish left in the last several years.

May 15 was the sixth anniversary of the Indignados mass mobilisations and protests against the brutal austerity unleashed by Spanish government in the wake of the economic crisis. Meanwhile, May 25 marked the third anniversary since the emergence of Podemos as the political voice of the anti-austerity movement with the election of the five Podemos candidates (including key leader Pablo Iglesias) into the European Parliament.

April 26 marked the 80th anniversary of the infamous aerial bombing of Gernika by the forces of General Francisco Franco in the fascists’ war against the Spanish Republic. The war began when Franco led a military rebellion against the legitimate, elected republican government in 1936, with the fascists eventually triumphing in 1939.

The Basque Country is a historically oppressed nation divided between the Spanish and French states. It was the scene of some of the worst fascist violence.

The struggle to build a united left force with enough support to implement real social and environmental change took a crucial step forward in Barcelona on April 8.

On a bright spring day, the new Catalan “political subject” provisionally called Un Pais En Comu (“A Country Together”) held its founding congress.

The group, whose definitive name will be decided by membership referendum, is the third Catalan left unity project with “en comu” (“together”) in its title.

The Party of the European Left (PEL), which is made up of left groups across Europe, held its Third Mediterranean conference in Malaga, on the southern coast of Spain, from March 31 to April 2.

The three-day gathering brought together left-wing, socialist, anti-imperialist and anti-austerity parties from across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Hundreds of thousands of people overflowed the streets of central Barcelona on February 20 in the largest ever European demonstration in support of refugee rights. The city police estimated attendance at 160,000 people; the organisers — the “Our House, Your House” campaign — put it at half a million people.

All along the vast march, its thematic sea-blue placards stood out in the light of the bright winter’s day: “Enough excuses! Let’s take them in now!"

In the end, the expected close result never happened. At the second congress (“citizens’ assembly”) of Spain’s radical anti-austerity party Podemos, the proposals and candidate list of outgoing general secretary Pablo Iglesias easily defeated those of his rival, outgoing political secretary Inigo Errejon.

In a December Podemos membership vote over the rules that were to govern the congress, Iglesias’s position had only won marginally (41.57% as against 39.12% for Errejon’s).

The slogan “We Want to Welcome Them” rang in the streets as up to half a million people demonstrated in Barcelona on February 18 to demand their government accept more refugees. It came after Spain accepted just 1000 of the 17,000 it had promised.

"It is very important that in a Europe of uncertainty where xenophobia is on the rise for Barcelona to be a capital of hope," said Barcelona's  mayor Ada Colau, who took part. 

February 6 marked the 80th anniversary of the start of the “Battle of Jarama” during the Spanish Civil War, as left-wing and democratic forces fought to stop the fascist forces of General Franco taking power.

Alongside the Battle of Madrid, the Battle of Jarama is commonly associated with the participation of the International Brigades — volunteers, often organised by communist parties, who travelled from around the world to Spain to join the anti-fascist fight.

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