Andy Durgan

Challenges for Podemos

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With a series of vital elections coming up this year, the Spanish state's two-party sytem is collapsing. Andy Durgan examines the development and limitations of the radical new party, Podemos.

The coming months could prove decisive for the political future of the Spanish state. On 24 May there will be local and regional elections, on 27 September Catalonia goes to the polls in what is posed as a plebiscite over national independence, and in November there will probably be elections for the central government.

Catalonia marches towards independence

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En lluita, Barcelona

On 11 September, Catalan National Day, 1.8 million people gathered in the centre of Barcelona to form a gigantic “V” symbolising their desire to vote on independence.

This was the third year running of massive protests, each bigger than the previous ones. The constitutional set-up of 1978, based on a pact with elements of the former Franco dictatorship, is now in danger of crashing down.

The Catalan government, headed by the conservative nationalist CiU, has scheduled 9 November as the day for the independence referendum.

Indignados surge in Spanish polls

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The election of five MPs from the anti-capitalist Podemos ("We Can") in Spain has rocked the political establishment.

Formed only four months ago, Podemos won a staggering 1.2 million votes - mostly from young people who do not usually vote, but also from many working class voters disillusioned with the social democratic PSOE. With the Communist Party led United Left (IU) tripling its vote since the last EU elections, the left took over 20 percent of the vote.

Revolt reigns in Spain

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On Friday 20 May there were at least 160 camps in cities and towns all over Spain following demonstrations the previous Sunday "against bankers and politicians" and for "real democracy". In solidarity there have also been pickets outside Spanish embassies all over Europe.

The "15 May Movement", as it has become known, was organised principally through social networks and by non-aligned collectives, some already active over housing or against the banks. Although the camps involve mainly young people, they have received widespread support from people of all ages. The movement coincided with local elections and when the camps were declared illegal by the Central Electoral Board - they were deemed as interfering with the voting process - tens of thousands flocked to their defence and the authorities were forced to retreat.

The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain

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Pierre Broué and Emile Témime, Haymarket, £30

The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain remains one of the most cogent histories of events in Spain between 1936 and 1939.

In the first part of the book the great Marxist historian Pierre Broué deals with the social revolution and political evolution of the Republican zone. At the time the book was originally published in French in 1961 most histories barely mentioned the social revolution that swept half of Spain in 1936.

Orwell Centenary: No Pasaran

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George Orwell was one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth we examine the controversy around his work and his legacy for today. Andy Durgan describes the impact of revolutionary Spain on Orwell.

'I had dropped into the only community of any size in western Europe where political consciousness and disbelief in capitalism were more normal than their opposites.' So wrote George Orwell in Homage to Catalonia on the six months he was to spend in revolutionary Spain.

Witness to revolution

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