By Eoghan Gilmartin for Jacobin Magazine - The stakes were increased when Regional Premier Carles Puigdemont told the BBC that Catalonia would unilaterally declare independence within “in a matter of days.” This was followed by a judgement from the Constitutional Court in Madrid suspending Monday’s session of the Catalan parliament. Radical independence party the CUP responded by demanding a session be held in defiance of the ban. However, with major corporations and banks threatening to move their legal headquarters outside the region, the conservative Puigdemont now seems less certain. Any move towards a declaration would most likely result in Mariano Rajoy’s right-wing government suspending Catalonia’s autonomy. Amidst an increasingly-polarized climate, international press coverage has tended to overlook the position of En Comú Podem, the political alliance which has won the last two general elections in Catalonia. This grouping comprising Ada Colau’s Catalonia En Comú and Unidos Podemos has tried to carve out a middle road in the current confrontation. It recognizes last Sunday’s vote as a legitimate political mobilization but doesn’t view it as a valid referendum. It also defends Catalonia’s right to decide but favors a plurinational, federal Spain.
By Sebastiaan Faber and Becquer Seguin for The Nation. Barcelona, Spain—“When we moved into city hall, there were only paintings by men,” Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau tweeted in March, attaching a picture of her current office wall, which now featured portraits of eight prominent Catalan women—including the legendary anarchist leader Federica Montseny. “Redecorating the walls, that was the easy change,” Colau’s second in command, Gerardo Pisarello, joked when we spoke with him in late June. “The other ones take quite a bit longer—they are more difficult and don’t just depend on us.” Pisarello’s office, too, features black-and-white photographs: one of a woman celebrating the proclamation of Spain’s Second Republic in 1931, and another taken at the country’s first LGBT protest after dictator Francisco Franco’s death in 1975, a demonstration that, as Pisarello proudly points out, happened in Barcelona.
By Dan Hancox for the Guardian. Ada Colau was there to discuss the housing crisis that had devastated Spain. Since the financial crisis, 400,000 homes had been foreclosed and a further 3.4m properties lay empty. In response, Colau had helped to set up a grassroots organisation, the Platform for Mortgage Victims (PAH), which championed the rights of citizens unable to pay their mortgages or threatened with eviction. Founded in 2009, the PAH quickly became a model for other activists, and a nationwide network of leaderless local groups emerged. Soon, people across Spain were joining together to campaign against mortgage lenders, occupy banks and physically block bailiffs from carrying out evictions. Ten minutes into Colau’s 40-minute testimony she broke from the script. Her voice cracking with emotion, she turned her attention to the previous speaker, Javier Rodriguez Pellitero, the deputy general secretary of the Spanish Banking Association: “This man is a criminal, and should be treated as such. He is not an expert. The representatives of financial institutions have caused this problem; they are the same people who have caused the problem that has ruined the entire economy of this country – and you keep calling them experts.”
By Ashifa Kassam for The Guardian. Spanish politicians are gearing up for what could be weeks of complicated negotiations after the general election resulted in a deeply fragmented parliament, with the conservative People’s party losing ground to national newcomers Podemos and Ciudadanos. Anti-austerity Podemos, barely two years old and born from the Indignado protests that saw thousands rally against a political establishment felt to be out of sync with the people, finished in third place with 69 seats and 21% of the vote, while the centre-right Ciudadanos won 40 seats and 14% of the vote. “Spain is not going to be the same anymore and we are very happy,” the Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias, said on Sunday. “The bipartisan political system is over.” The PP and Socialists won a combined vote share of about 50%, compared with the 70-80% of past general elections.
By Sonya Dowsett for Reuters - The newly-elected left-wing mayor of Madrid on Tuesday overturned eviction orders for 70 families living in social housing and safeguarded more than 2,000 similar rental contracts. The move is the latest by the administration of Manuela Carmena, backed by anti-austerity party Podemos, to protect housing in a country where a property boom-and-bust has resulted in tens of thousands of families losing their homes. "There were 70 processes under way, but today those families have recovered their homes. Nobody is going to be thrown out on the street," Carmena said after meeting activists. Carmena took office in June after her Ahora Madrid ('Madrid Now') alliance of community activists formed a coalition with the opposition Socialists to end 24 years of centre-right People's Party (PP) rule in the capital.
By Bernardo Gutiérrez in Occupy - Madrid, Barcelona and other major Spanish cities are now governed by independent citizen fronts called “confluences.” Ahora Madrid, Barcelona en Comú, Zaragoza en Común and La Marea Atlántica (A Coruña) are confluences weaved together by the M15-Indignados social ecosystem. Other political parties, like Podemos and Equo, have joined these confluences while leaving political party logic at the door. The results from Spain’s latest local elections, which saw the decline of the conservative Partido Popular, have the potential of modifying the course of European politics. The municipalist effort was well underway before the Podemos tsunami – a new political party cobbled together for the European elections of May 25, 2014 – surprisingly gained five seats in European Parliament. Here's why.
Four years ago this month, the 15-M movement, commonly referred to as the indignados, burst forth in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol. The movement united a wide variety of political factions and tendencies. It managed to gain momentum behind a widespread critique of the austerity measures of the two ruling parties (the PP and the PSOE, which many 15-M signs refer to collectively as the PPSOE) and a desire for “real democracy now!” (¡Democracia real ya!) embodied in directly democratic assemblies and a rejection of hierarchy. In May 2014, Podemos surged onto the scene as a new political party that attempted to channel the popular democracy of the 15-M into the ballot box, winning five seats in the European parliament. Although Podemos claims to be the legitimate heir to the fading 15-M movement, Left critics have argued that the new party has hastened popular demobilization by selling the notion that social ills can be simply voted away and that this new party isn’t like the ones who came before it.
Thousands of people have marched in the Spanish capital denouncing the government and calling for an end to harsh austerity measures that have deepened poverty among the worst-off. Gathering under the banner of "Dignity" in Madrid on Saturday, protesters decried government financial cuts, housing rights policies, and high unemployment rates. Carrying banners reading "Food, jobs and a roof with dignity. Working for a general strike", the protesters packed much of the city's Colon Square and Paseo de Recoletos boulevard. Dolores Cerezo, who had arrived from southern Sevilla, said the government had cut back "savagely" on public services such as education and the national health service.
Since Podemos unveiled itself in January 2014 as a ‘method for participation open to the entire public’[ii], the initiative has evolved to the point that it has formalised as a political party. This constitutive process finalised on the 14th of February passed following the election of the different internal posts on a national level. However, with regards to the process of organisation, and in an electoral context where prospects are good, the debate frequently took the form of a war waged in personalised and binary terms, between fans and trolls. This internal rancour was fed in part by the establishment of a system of internal lists and voting that did not correct the existing inequalities in terms of access to media resources, but rather took advantage of these inequalities, albeit without acknowledging this openly. But it is not as simple as this.
A week on from the seismic political shift delivered by the people of Greece, tens of thousands gathered in the Spanish capital today to tell their ruling elite that they too had had enough. People of all ages, from babies carried by their mothers, to the elderly, came to express support for Podemos, a leftist, anti-austerity political party that is just 12 months old, and later this year is promising to end the dominance of Spain’s two main parties. Wearing the party’s purple and chanting “Yes, we can”, Spaniards from all walks of life turned out to show their support. They came from across Spain in more than 260 buses that had been laid on for the “March of Change”, and from midday packed Madrid’s busiest central avenues around the square of Puerta del Sol – a hub for shoppers, tourists, and often protests too.