Spain

Crackdown on democracy

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The trial against the leader of last year’s campaign for Catalan independence brings to the fore a murky history of undemocratic manoeuvering by the Spanish state. Sara Garcia reveals worrying developments.

On 12 February, after they’ve spent more than a year in preventive custody, the trial against the 12 Catalan politicians and civil movement leaders began. They may be sentenced to more than 25 years in jail, facing charges of sedition, rebellion and misuse of public funds among others.

New mood grips Basque struggle

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A mass movement is back on the streets in support of Basque political prisoners’ rights. But arguments for independence have been abandoned by the radical left, writes Héctor Sierra.

On 14 January 78,000 people took to the streets of Bilbao in the Basque Country to demand “human rights, peace, and a solution to the conflict”. The Basque Country stretches from the north of the Spanish state to the south of France and has a population of barely 3 million. Previous similar demonstrations peaked in 2014 with 130,000 people.

Spanish left poll triumph

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Local and regional elections in the Spanish state on 24 May saw a significant battering for the mainstream conservative Popular Party (PP) and Socialist Party (PSOE), as well as significant advances for anti-austerity and social movement forces.

The PP vote dropped from 37 percent in the last equivalent elections to 27 percent. It lost 2.5 million votes.

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.

How can the left topple the bosses' Europe?

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Syriza demo

The rise of left formations such as Syriza and Podemos presents new challenges

Over the past two months a string of remarkable opinion polls have appeared across Europe that point to big opportunities — and big challenges — for the left. In Greece the radical left party Syriza, which came close to winning the 2012 general elections, has moved to being 5 to 10 percent ahead of the ruling conservative New Democracy party. Some polls in the Irish Republic have seen Sinn Fein nose ahead of both the ruling Fine Gael party and the once dominant party of Irish capitalism, Fianna Fail.

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.

Spain: Defeat for abortion rights attack

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Spain

Pro-choice campaigners were celebrating last month as an attempt to savagely restrict access to abortion in the Spanish state collapsed.

The right wing People’s Party government approved a law last December, which would have made abortion illegal except in very limited circumstances.

Protests by tens of thousands throughout this year have exacerbated divisions within the ruling party, leading prime minister Mariano Rajoy to finally announce the bill dead.

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.

Strikes, independence and indignados

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Rafel Sanchis and Estelle Cooch spoke to David Fernández, an MP for the Catalan parliament, about the origins and politics of the anti-capitalist coalition, CUP, and its relationship to the wider movement

An important feature of the crisis in Europe has been the rise of radical left political formations in Greece, France and elsewhere. In last November's elections to the Catalan parliament, an anti-capitalist and pro-independence coalition, the CUP (Candidatura d'Unitat Popular, or Popular Unity Candidates), got three MPs elected.

The 2012 elections were the first time that the CUP has decided to run for Catalan parliamentary elections. Why was this?

Barcelona's hospital occupations

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Health workers in Barcelona have occupied their hospital in protest against cuts.
Jonathan Collier reports

Health workers at the Sant Pau Hospital in Barcelona have been in occupation since 28 November.

The action at Sant Pau has been the catalyst for developing anti-cuts movements, involving neighbourhood and other activist groups, at hospitals throughout Catalunya. Occupations have sprung up at the region's biggest hospital, Vall d'Hebrón, and the Clínic Hospital.

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