Dick Nichols

Dick Nichols, former trade union coordinator and national coordinator for the Socialist Alliance, covers European economy and politics from Barcelona. He has been active in socialist, union and environment movements since the 1970s.

Confronting Catalonia: a day in Spanish parliament

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.

France: Poll a tale of missed left gains

Mainstream media coverage of the first round of France's March 23 local elections stressed the rise in support for the far-right, racist National Front (FN).

The only other stories found worthy of comment were the sharp decline in support for the ruling Socialist Party (PS) of president Francois Hollande and the rise in abstention to a record 36.5%.

Millions-strong March for Dignity shakes Spain

All political forces in Spain are now straining to adjust to the huge 1 million to 2 million-strong March for Dignity demonstration in Madrid. On March 22, the march greeted the protest columns that had converged on Spain's capital from 12 outlying cities and towns over the previous week.

The enormous success of this initiative is still sinking in. How come an initiative that began outside the mainstream union confederations, the Workers Commissions (CCOO) and the General Workers Union (UGT), could mobilise so many people and eventually force them to declare their support?

Spain: Left unity scarce ahead of Europe poll

As the May 25 European elections approach, a question that concerns left and progressive people in the Spanish state is just how many left alternatives will end up running against the “parties of government” ― the ruling conservative People’s Party (PP) and the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE).

Spain: Civil Guard murders asylum seekers

At quarter to six on the morning of February 6, in a wood on the Moroccan side of the border with the Spanish north African enclave Ceuta, about 300 asylum seekers met to try to cross the six-metre high razor-wire fence seperating the two countries.

Spain: ‘White tide’ wipes out health privatisation plan

Victories are rare in the ongoing struggle against the sell-off of public services in southern Europe. So when one occurs as big as the recent defeat of the Madrid regional government’s plans to privatise hospital and community health centre management, it should be enjoyed to the full.

The crowning moment in the 15-month-long battle to keep administration of six hospitals, four specialist centres and 27 community health centres in Madrid in public hands came on January 27. That afternoon, a gloomy regional premier, Ignacio Gonzalez, announced the suspension of the privatisation.

France: Activist pressure forces Left Front truce

To an almost audible sigh of relief from its tens of thousands of activists, the two main forces in France’s nine-party Left Front ― the French Communist Party and the Left Party of Jean-Luc Melenchon ― have called a halt to hostilities.

The infighting was undermining the front's chances in France’s March municipal elections and those of the aligned Party of the European Left in the May 25 European poll.

Basque Country: Huge march advances struggle for peace, national rights

For decade, the People’s Party (PP) of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has believed it had a reliable political gun in its holster ― unbending opposition to any group or proposal that could be portrayed as linked to Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA).

ETA is the left-nationalist armed group responsible for more than 800 deaths in its 50-year-long fight against the Spanish state.

Europe's economic crisis: Light at the end of the tunnel?

Is that a faint glimmer light at the end of the European economic tunnel? Or is it just a bunch of conservative politicians brandishing torches and yelling: “Look, a light at the end of the tunnel”?

The “Light-At-The-End-Of-The-Tunnel” mantra is a vital part of conservative government strategy in depressed Portugal, Greece, Ireland and Spain (the European “periphery”).

Every skerrick of non-disastrous economic news gets boosted as proof of a coming resurrection ― and one more reason why people should forget about revolt in the streets or ballot box.

Europe’s worst oil spill: real culprits get off scot-free

Eleven years to the day after the crew of the 80,000 tonne oil tanker Prestige heard the huge bang that marked the start of its break-up and of Europe’s most devastating oil spill, a high court panel in the Galician city of A Coruna delivered its verdict in the case on November 13.

Who was guilty of an environmental catastrophe when the tanker broke in two and spilled 63,000 tonnes of sticky, sulphurous fuel oil along 2900 kilometres of Spain’s and France’s Atlantic coast?

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