Court Ruling, Catalan Revolt, Elections, Investiture, Political Crisis, Exhausted Regime …
By Rubén Tzanoff SOL – Spanish State leader.
The Spanish state walks along the edge and does not have a good perspective. It is essential to build a new alternative of the anti-capitalist left, to build a revolutionary and socialist party to achieve strategic changes.
The struggle of the Catalan people is writing a new chapter in its long history as an oppressed nationality. At present, it has received a new boost by an unfair, vindictive and loathsome sentence against its political prisoners. On Monday, October 14, the Spanish Supreme Court (TS) announced its ruling to the leaders of the Proces of Independence. There were no discrepancies between the seven magistrates chaired by Manuel Marchena, who unanimously decided a punishment of 9 to 13 years in prison for “sedition” for the former vice president of the Generalitat, Oriol Junqueras; former councelors Jordi Turull, Josep Rull, Joaquim Forn, Raül Romeva, and Dolors Bassa; the former president of the Parliament, Carme Forcadell, and the leaders of the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) and Òmnium, Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart. Junqueras and the other five former counselors that are already incarcerated were also convicted of “embezzlement.”
The prosecution’s case was based on the crime of “rebellion with violence”, and backed by the lies, contradictions and concealment by senior officials and members of the Civil Guard. The accusation was refuted by the defense´s witnesses, whose testimonies were accompanied by clarifying videos. Finally, the Supreme Court ruled that “tumultuous” mobilizations were promoted to hinder the enforcement of laws and the procedure of justice. In addition, it considered that the defendants used money destined to their departments for the realization of the “illegal” referendum, so the “sedition” could not have occurred without “embezzlement.” The defense will appeal to the Constitutional Court and the European Court of Human Rights.
The judicial inquisition has not ended. There are still six independentists in exile, including former Generalitat president Carles Puigdemont, who the Court hopes to be able to judge since their European arrest warrants have been reactivated. And there are hundreds of persecuted, detained and/or prosecuted activists.
The conviction of the twelve political prisoners completed the punishment of the two million Catalans who exercised their right to self-determination. It characterizes a judiciary that is dependent on the political power, whose magistrates are its employees, and are designated instead of being elected by the popular vote. The sentence was passed to exemplify what can happen to those who mobilize to achieve independence. They believed that they would defeat the aspirations of self-determination by repressing, convicting the leaders, and sowing fear. But that is not what happened.
The Revolt Broke Out
Far from causing fear, the sentence provoked outrage and sparked a popular revolt that initiated a new moment of polarization and unpredictable dynamics, which has brought the demand for a Catalan Republic back in the spotlight. The protagonists of the new revolt are independentists, but there are other actors as well, who are not independentists but see their democratic rights threatened also protest. At the same time the ruling was made public, secondary school and university students began a strike, and neighborhood manifestations broke out in the city halls. Thousands of people mobilized towards Plaza Catalunya, and from there, they headed towards El Prat airport, where the operation of Terminal T1 collapsed during almost ten hours of resistance to police charges.
On October 15, the Freedom Marches began. Five huge columns departed from Girona, Tarragona, Tàrrega, Berga and Vic; there was a sixth column of the CDRs (Committees for Defense of the Referendum / Republic) that departed from Castelldefels. The roads were flooded with starred flags that converged in Barcelona on the 17th. The general strike was a success, with strength in education, administration, commerce, public transport, and other companies. It was convened by the Intersindical-CSC, the Student Union and other organizations, without the support of the General Workers Union (UGT) or Workers’ Commissions (CCOO). It was a historic day with the unified participation of workers and students. The shock wave generated solidarity actions in Madrid, Bilbao, Zaragoza, Valencia, Mallorca, Alicante, Castellón and other cities, as well as in other countries, such as France, Argentina and Hong Kong, just to mention a few examples.
The days passed and the actions called by the ANC-Òmnium, the CDRs and a new actor, Democratic Tsunami, continued. Democratic Tsunami is a platform with an unknown structure, which uses its own applications with restricted access, social networks and a Telegram channel to guide protests without suffering legal punishment. So far, it has called for surprising actions of enormous magnitude and support: the collapse of the airport, a day of collective street “reflection” on November 9 and the blockade of border roads with France in Catalonia and Euzkadi on November 11, 12 and 13. State agencies have carried out cyber attacks against them without success, and persecute them.
The Youth Said “Enough!”
A powerful youth has erupted on the scene, overflowing every manifestation with color, wit and combativeness. Some would discredit them by saying that they are “rich children of Sarriá“, “radical indepes“, or “anti-system“. The truth is that it is a broad youth vanguard that got fed up with the injustice and humiliations: they are grandchildren of anti-fascist grandparents, they are political children of the Indignados and the 1-O referendum, and that is why they have social sympathy and active support. A sample of this solidarity could be seen at the act held on Thursday the 24th at University Square, convened by unions and academic entities under the slogan Do not touch our youth!, and in people´s active participation in all major events.
The students declared a strike of indefinite duration with pickets at the entrances of the universities and a camp on the Gran Vía, right in the center of Barcelona, holding assemblies, talks and surprising actions. In sum, the bottom of the issue is that capitalism worsens the democratic and social conditions of the majority, and the world´s youth are not willing to stand idly by watching their present and future being taken away from them.
The current situation has revived the debate about violence, with different positions taken around it. The repression of the National Police, the Mossos d’Esquadra (1) and the special forces of the Brimo is brutal. Just in the first week after the sentence, they have arrested 21 people, and injured over 600, four of whom lost an eye from rubber bullet impacts. A young man lost a testicle, and a woman is in serious condition due to head trauma. Marginally, but in tune with the state violence, fascist groups physically assault people and provoke protestors, with the Spanish flag in one hand and the Nazi salute in the other.
The violence of the batons is ordered from) the offices. Pedro Sánchez (Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE) continues with the policy of former President Mariano Rajoy (Popular Party, PP): not recognizing self-determination, not opening negotiations, rejecting an agreed referendum, and threatening to reapply the disastrous Article 155 of the Constitution. Meanwhile, the right wing demands that exceptional measures be taken. According to some analysts, there are sectors of the army willing to intervene.
Those who argue that the Catalan people are violent and are terrorists, lie. They find the stimulus of the unionist media that hide, fragment and / or misrepresent reality to the public, especially outside Catalonia. It is no coincidence that “Spanish press, manipulative” is chanted at the marches. The truth is that the Catalans respond to repression with mobilization, many with their arms raised chanting “we are people of peace“, others sitting on the ground while they are beaten, and now also building barricades of self-defense against the advance of the state´s repressive machinery. It is the regime that applies and generates violence, punishing people who exercise their self-determination with jail, persecuting and prosecuting activists. The oppressor is violent, not the oppressed that defend themselves however they can.
Second Presidential Election
Sanchez came to power in 2018 through a censure motion against Rajoy. When Social Democracy failed to get the General State Budget approved, the Legislature expired and Sanchez had to call early elections on April 28, in which he received the most votes. However, his investiture failed. Sanchez accused Podemos because “they have blocked the investiture of a socialist for the fourth time.” Pablo Iglesias (Podemos) pointed to Sánchez for preferring Ciudadanos (Cs) and “wanting to be president in exchange for nothing”. Gabriel Rufián (ERC) questioned them both because “they have lost the historic opportunity” to achieve a “left wing government.” Right wing parties pointed to the PSOE, arguing that they never intended to agree and their strategy was always to return to the polls. Finally, the second presidential elections in seven months and the fourth in four years – a case with no equal in Europe – were held on November 10. The population’s tedium was expressed in a drop in participation from 76 to 70%. The general results (graph A) gave the PSOE a new victory, but with a loss of votes, seats, and the absolute majority in the Senate. Its aspiration to govern on its own was unsuccessful. United We Can (UP – Podemos and United Left) continued to lose votes.
The “Trifachito” of PP-Cs-VOX did not become a majority and the relative clout of the three parties was altered. The PP saw a partial improvement. Cs plummeted, losing more than two and a half million votes and 47 seats, an important fact for two reasons: 1) it configured the fall of the party that, until a few months ago, was the most dynamic of the recycled right, 2) the votes that they lost fed the ultra-right VOX party, which jumped from 2.6 to 3.6 million votes (24 to 52 seats), and became the third force in Congress. Its boom has explanations and responsibilities.
In Catalonia, the pro independence forces continued to grow, which expresses the vitality of the process for self-determination and the freedom of political prisoners. It was a very positive fact that the Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) ran for the first time in Spanish elections and obtained two deputies: comrade Mireia Vehí and comrade Albert Botrán. From Socialism and Freedom (SOL), we have been part of this anti-capitalist formation´s campaign to also be “ungovernable” in “the belly of the beast“, with the banners of self-determination, amnesty, and democratic and social rights.
The Sánchez-Iglesias Mutation
Between the election of August 28 and the election of November 10, seven months passed in which the possibility of an investiture consensus was never expressed. However, the day after the elections, Sánchez and Iglesias left their negotiators aside, met secretly, and within 24 hours changed from irreconcilable politicians to trusted associates, embracing an agreement of 10 general points and administration positions. Why did they change diametrically and so quickly? They did so because Spain is on a winding and unsustainable path for the bourgeoisie and the European Union, who demand an urgent end to the political uncertainty. And, fundamentally, because a weak acting government is navigating through a vigorous storm: the Catalan rebellion that it cannot control, which decides when and how it closes national borders and roads, occupies public spaces and airports. The regime needs to form a government “no matter what”, as Sánchez said. Iglesias and his United Left (IU) allies are on board with these needs and now work to convince new political actors to present an Executive as solid as possible. We will see what certain formations, like Anticapitalists, ERC, PNV and others that have been ambiguous and / or changing in terms of the investiture, end up doing.
Reformists in Action
It is not worth going into the PSOE too much. Beyond what it says, its long and proven track record shows that it is not a socialist, working class or leftist party. It is necessary to refer to United We Can, because for many people it is something different. However, if the envisioned government ends up materializing, it would be the corollary of the political bankruptcy of UP as an alternative for change on the left. A bourgeois coalition government would cross all class boundaries and would graduate Iglesias as a “critical” servant of the monarchist-parliamentary regime. The doubts some have had about his so-called “equidistance” between Spain and Catalonia would be revealed for what it always was: a position in favor of maintaining the status quo, which brought the Podemos leadership closer to the oppressors and distanced it from the oppressed. Reformism continues to demonstrate its limitations in responding to capitalism´s disasters. When assessing why there are young people and fighters who first follow them, then get disappointed and even migrate to the right, we must point out the course of adaptation and capitulation of those center-left leaders: they are responsible for demoralizing and sowing distrust in layers of honest fighters.
An Executive based on the PSOE-UP duo would be a government of double speak, “progressive” in its discourse and even in adopting some measures, but conservative in maintaining the old and anachronistic political and economic structures, guarantor of the unity of Spain, and obedient to the impositions of the Troika. (2) They are playing with fire as social tedium increases, the Catalan revolt does not give them respite and, as the uprisings in Ecuador, Chile, Hong Kong and other parts of the world show, the irruptions of the mass movement do not arrive with prior notice. A deep and sustained crisis is under way, which will not be solved with the election of this or that president because its origin and genesis are in the 78 regime.
Independence Yes, But No…
The Catalan people have kicked the playing board again and placed the major formations Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC), Partit Demòcrata europeu Català (PDeCAT) and Junts per Catalunya (JxCAT) in the dilemma of rising to the occasion or being overtaken by the mobilization. The continuing attacks of the Spanish central power clearly indicate that half-measures are useless: the regime is either defeated or the oppression intensifies. This reality was demonstrated with the declaration of independence, which was then suspended within a few seconds of being proclaiming, when there was more than sufficient strength and willingness to take the measure to its last consequences, effectively founding the Republic and developing a Constituent Process.
Several examples indicate a growing dissatisfaction with those who, from the government and Parliament, say one thing and do another: they speak of the Republic, but they set a course for limited autonomy; they encourage disobedience, but endorse the repression of the Mossos or justify the arrests; they demand social measures, but they promote the disastrous Aragonese Law of privatizations. Some ERC leaders are earning the repudiation of the fighting vanguard by not defending the detainees of the revolt and not severely questioning Minister of the Interior Miquel Buch for the Mossos´ repression, while there is an extended demand for his resignation. Deputy Gabriel Rufián was kicked out of a rally to the cry of botifler, synonymous to “traitor”. Deputy José Rodríguez tried to convince the protesters to withdraw from Vía Laietana Avenue and found a firm response: “Not one step back.”
An Exhausted Regime
After the Second Republic and the Civil War, Francisco Franco established a dictatorship that did not end defeated by the action of the mass movement but as a result of his death in 1975. In fact, he had already designated the king, Juan Carlos I of Bourbon, as his successor. The transfer of command facilitated the crimes of the dictatorship going unpunished, friendly officials remaining entrenched in key state positions and the shaping of institutions by fascist ideology. With the Transition, the pacts signed at the Moncloa Palace in 1977 and the drafting of the Constitution in 1978, the bourgeois parties and their accomplices made some changes, but the armed forces, the judiciary, the two party system and the monarchy supervised decades of “democratic” functioning.
The veneration of Franco that endured over time is another example. On October 24, just over 44 years after his burial in the Valley of the Fallen, his body was exhumed and transferred to the Mingorrubio-El Pardo cemetery. The sinister tomb in which he was located is the only European monument dedicated to a fascist dictator, and it was built once the Civil War ended. Sanchez presented the exhumation as “fruit of forgiveness”, but it was intended to turn the page, seal impunity and, incidentally, attract some votes from “progressive” sectors. Achieving justice and punishing the coup leaders and their accomplices, who were ruthless with Republicans, workers and the people, is a pending task. Crimes against humanity do not prescribe.
In short, the monarchical-parliamentary regime of 78 cannot offer any progressive solutions to the political, social and economic problems of the great majority: that is why it must be defeated. If a people like Catalans want self-determination, the answer is prosecution, repression and jail. If workers want better wages and working conditions, the answer is price increases, job insecurity and unemployment. The Constitutional Court has just issued a ruling whereby it supports firing workers for missing work, even if it is justified by illness. If the people want better living conditions, the answer is to save the bankers and businessmen by giving them millions of Euros at the cost of slashing the public health and education budgets. If retirees want to live with dignity, the answer is a meager increase that is insufficient even for their prescriptions. If women demand concrete measures against patriarchal sexism, the answer is to grant insignificant funds and institutional formalities. If society demands to end corruption and the “sewers of the state”, the answer is impunity for those responsible. In sum, everything is done to comply with the economic guidelines of the imperialist bloc of the EU and the Ibex 35, (3) to support the regime and the capitalist system.
From historical and present reality, we see a great amount of pending tasks that will not be solved with partial modifications as some charlatans already suggest. It is necessary to debate democratically in a free and sovereign Constituent Assembly, without any conditions when deciding on a new economic, political and social order favorable to the great majority. The people must decide what their destiny should be! If the regime and the government have room to maneuver, it is because they have the support of the bosses’ parties, the union leaders, and the EU Troika. The current perspective foreshadows a panorama of crisis and polarization, fed by the Catalan people´s strong demand that has not been defeated, the economic slowdown in the face of a new stage of world capitalist crisis, and the outcome of Brexit and of the November 10 elections. In the face of the great challenges ahead, it is imperative to build a new anti-capitalist, leftwing political alternative, firmly tied to the struggles of the working class, the women who fight for their rights, the retirees, and the peoples across the Spanish State.
Advance or Stagnate and Retreat
Important battles are being fought on every continent. With each popular triumph, the struggle against the exploiters and oppressors, against the capitalist system and imperialism is strengthened. That is why we call for the broadest unity in action to support the Catalan demand. It is a great time for workers and the people to break onto the scene and impose their own political and social agenda in the whole of the Spanish State, like they did on 15M. (4) To achieve important changes, it is essential for the unrest to transform into action and shake the passivity of the trade union federations. In addition, these are the best antidotes to defeat the right and the ultra-right wherever they raise their heads.
The democratic rights denied to the Catalans are at stake, but so are the rights of all Spaniards with the application of the Gag Law and the Anti-Terrorist Law. We call all who consider themselves republican, progressive, democratic or leftist, to actively demonstrate for self-determination and amnesty. Not doing so clearly implies, in fact, siding with the king. The triumph of the Republic will depend on the emergence of new democratic and principled leaders who turn their backs on symbolic acts and “master plays.” The key is in the leading role of mobilizations, workers´ and students´ strikes, disobedience, and popular organization. The Constituent Process must begin from below, with the engine of debate in the CDRs, and massive democratic neighborhood assemblies.
From Socialism and Freedom (SOL – Spanish State), we are part of the Catalan popular struggle. From the International Socialist League, we have doubled down our campaign of solidarity with actions at the diplomatic representations of Spain in different countries, and we will continue doing so. Defeating the regime would be a very progressive step, though insufficient. Revolutionary socialists will continue to push further. We do not encourage replacing Spanish bosses with Catalan bosses: the exploitative bourgeoisie is the same and its only flag is its profit. We mobilize for democratic conquests as an indispensable step in the strategy of breaking with the EU imperialist bloc, of satisfying the social needs of health care, housing and education to qualitatively improve the living conditions of the great majority, not of a handful of rich businessmen who dominate the means of production, and the wealth that is produced socially by the working class. In short, we fight for socialism with workers´ democracy, on the path of a strategy of establishing a government of the workers and the people, and a free Federation of Socialist Republics of the Iberian Peninsula.
1. Catalan Police.
2. European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund.
3. Spanish benchmark stock market index.
4. The Indignados rebellion of May 15, 2011.
An Oppressed Nationality
In a world dominated by imperialism, national borders are a product of victors’ decisions over the defeated. Oppressors make economic, political, social and cultural impositions a common practice. But they should not be meekly normalized by the oppressed. Catalonia has been an oppressed nationality for centuries. It has an identity based on ancient civil rights, institutions, language and culture of its own, forged over centuries of history. After the long siege and the fall of Barcelona on September 11, 1714, the Catalan Courts were dissolved. The War of Succession and the crowning of Felipe V de Borbón implied losing the principality´s self-government, and its submission to Castilian institutions.
The long historical journey of the Spain-Catalonia relationship has had ups and downs, quarrels and reconciliations, according to changes in power and power relations at each stage. Beyond the divided opinions about history and the present, a majority of Catalans does not feel Spanish and considers that self-determination is a right, not a crime. That is why Catalans are not content with the autonomy Spain grants them: they wish to go further and decide their destiny. Although the Procès independentista is developing in the current Catalonia, the libertarian demand of some sectors exceeds those limits and aims to bring together all the Països Catalans: the territories where the Catalan language is spoken, including the Balearic Islands, the Valencian Community, the Aragon Strip, El Carche (Region of Murcia), the city of Alghero (Sardinia) and Roussillon (the French department of Eastern Pyrenees).
Some Dates of the Procés
In the last decade, the Procés has been an unavoidable milestone in addressing current
events. On September 6 and 7, 2017, the Catalan Parliament approved laws
convening the Referendum and Transience. The attorney general accused Puigdemont’s
government of “disobedience, prevarication and embezzlement.” On the
11th and 12th there was a massive Diada (mobilization), and the Constitutional
Court suspended the Transience Law, at the request of then president of Spain, Mariano
Rajoy (PP). On September 20, the judiciary ordered to search the Catalan Department
of Economy, provoking a spontaneous and massive demonstration in response, for
which Jordi Sánchez (ANC) and Jordi Cuixart (Òmnium) were accused of
Though the Referendum was declared illegal, more than two million people voted on O-1. The people´s participation overcame the requisition of ballots, envelopes, ballot boxes, and the violent police charges. On October 27, the Catalan Parliament declared independence and suspended it in the same act. Rajoy deposed President Puigdemont, dissolved the Catalan Parliament, called for elections for December 21, and applied the disastrous Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. Puigdemont and other authorities went into exile in different European countries, while other leaders were imprisoned. The farce trial began on February 12 and ended with the sentence of October 14, 2019, after 52 sessions and the statements of 422 witnesses.
VOX and its Normalizers
The world situation is increasingly polarized, marked by huge working class and popular rebellions, with massive marches, strikes, various kinds of actions, and harsh confrontations with repressive forces. In this framework, right wing, ultra-right and / or fascist expressions with different degrees of social acceptance, also appear. This reality, which has been manifesting itself in Europe for a long time, had not achieved institutional insertion in Spain until very recently. But that has changed with the emergence of VOX. There are people who cynically argue that the Catalan struggle is responsible for its growth. The truth is that there is a social sector that agrees with Francoism and the monarchy, that approves of repression, and that is xenophobic and homophobic and, as a consequence, is akin to the VOX message. The organization led by Santiago Abascal is also mounted on people´s unsatisfied needs and false patriotic conscience. However, the magnitude of its rapid growth has increased thanks to the attitude of those who call themselves “democratic” but normalize the presence of the extreme right. The Supreme Court allowed two of its leaders to act as part of the people´s plaintiff in the show trial against the independence leaders. Although they vie for the same political space, the PP and Ciudadanos catapulted the fachos by governing in coalition with them in Madrid and Andalusia. Social democracy and the center-left cannot wash their hands either: they use VOX to polarize the election and campaign as a “containment dam”, instead of focusing on defeating them in the streets and closing them off from all political and social spheres. VOX also receives the support of some mass media outlets that provide them with wide coverage, giving up their anti-fascist dignity in exchange for a wider audience.
From the Republic to the Dictatorship
On February 16, 1936, the Popular Front (FP)
triumphed in the Spanish elections and proclaimed the Second Republic. On July
18, the fascist right carried out a coup d’etat and initiated the three-year
Civil War that divided Spain into two irreconcilable sides: on the one hand,
the fascists with their falanges; on
the other, the workers with their militias, control patrols and a network of
committees that united workers and popular organizations. In Republican Spain,
there was a situation of dual power, with unequal development in different
regions, in which the masses severely limited the power of traditional
authorities, in particular the Catholic Church, seized factories and lands, and
began to exercise power through their committees.
The possibility of dealing fascism a fatal blow, fulfilling pending democratic tasks, and advancing to socialism was concrete. But that was not the orientation of the FP, whose decision was to keep the process within the limits of a bourgeois republic. Despite the enormous heroism of the working class and the popular sectors, the blatant betrayal of the Spanish Communist Party (PCE) under Moscow directives and the PSOE led to a defeat of the revolutionary process. On April 1, 1939, Franco won the war and there was a huge contradiction: while Nazis and fascists were being defeated and withered away throughout Europe, Franco emerged triumphant and began a bloody military dictatorship that would last four decades.
Transition and Constitution of 78
On April 25,
1974, the Carnation Revolution broke out in Portugal and the dictatorship of
António de Oliveira Salazar that had ruled since 1926, fell. On November 20,
1975, 82-year.old Francisco Franco died in Spain. Several years before his
death, the dictator had appointed Juan Carlos I de Borbón as successor. On
November 22, 1975, he was proclaimed king and head of state. Thus began the
historical period known as the Transition. The impact of both events triggered a
huge working class ascent and the awakening of the nationalities, with the
This process made the social and political order that Franco had built creak and, had it not been for the betrayal of the leaderships, it could have end up being superior to the Portuguese revolution. But the PSOE-UGT and PCE-CC.OO. dismantled the movement, saving the king and the dictatorship from a revolutionary defeat. They negotiated with the weakened Franco regime the first general elections after 44 years, which took place on June 15, 1977, and a new Constitution, promulgated at the end of 1978. Thus, the monarchy was formally reinstated, ensuring the continuity of Juan Carlos I, the main commanders of the army, the police, Franco’s judges, the privileges of the Church, and the banks that supported the regime. Impunity was guaranteed, with Basque and Catalan bourgeois nationalists as part of the “great agreement”, in which they expressly renounced the right to the self-determination of their nationalities in exchange for administering a limited autonomy.