Monday, September 28, 2015

Catalan elections: 48% for independence, 39% against

Catalans celebrate the independentist victory (La Vanguardia)
Yesterday the Catalan People had the opportunity to vote on national independence, via regular elections, issuing a clear mandate to go ahead with the process. The total votes for independentist options did not reach 50% but those voting for unionist options are less than 40%.

Crucially 12% of the votes went to options that did not have a clear stand on the independence issue, notably Catalyunya si que es Pot (ICV+Podemos+independents), although the Spanish media (all of them militantly unionist) try to count them in the "no" fraction in a futile exercise to manipulate the actual will of the sovereign Catalan People.

In case there is any doubt, the lead candidate by Catalunya Sí que es Pot, Lluis Rabell, declared unambiguously for all who want to hear that his list gathered independentists and federalists and that by no means their fraction of the vote can be considered as opposed to Catalan independence, but rather expressing the will of people who think that there are more important matters such as human and social rights.

The results of the plebiscitary elections are (by blocs):

seats votes %
YES 72 1,952,482 47.80
NO 52 1,599,527 39.16
other 11 512,910 12.56

In detail (source: La Vanguardia):


seats votes %
JxSí 62 1,616,962 39.57
C's 25 732,147 17.91
PSC 16 520,022 12.72
Cat.Sí que es Pot 11 364,823 8.93
PP 11 347,358 8.50
CUP 10 335,520 8.21
Unió 0 102,594 2.51
PACMA 0 29,685 0.73
Recortes Cero 0 14,324 0.35
Guanyem 0 1,158 0.03 0 326 0.01

The result is very clear, even if it could be even more clear if a legally binding referendum was held, something that both Spain and its political brands in Catalonia oppose by all means, knowing that they would lose.  

What lays ahead?

An immediate issue is who will lead the new government. Junts pel Sí has failed to muster a majority of seats and needs a backer. This one can only be the rising star: the Nationalist Left list CUP (Popular Unity List). The CUP has made clear that they will not support Artur Mas nor another conservative government in any case and that may result in a more left-leaning government, with utterly clean hands on issues of corruption, repression and social policies, made up of mostly independents. The very nature of the JxSí list, made up largely of independents may facilitate this, although who exactly will be the new President (Romeva, Junqueras) is an open issue. 

The main and quite important difference between JxSí an the CUP is social policies, although human rights have also been an issue with the previous government, way too ready to use police brutality. However they fully agree on going ahead with an independence schedule within the next couple of years. In fact the CUP was close to join the JxSí list and only the role given to the previous government's politicians (Mas, Junqueras) blocked the agreement. 

My first impression is that there will be agreement and that an independentist government dead set to implement the roadmap to independence will be formed in the next few weeks, unless Spain intervenes militarily, what is certainly a possibility. That should end in an independent Catalonia in a couple of years... or a military dictatorship imposed by Spain. 

It's hard to imagine how these results can produce any other scenario but we will see in due time. 

The independence camp (48%)

The clear winner in the independentist camp is the Popular Unity List (CUP), which has more than tripled their previous results. They have attracted voters from the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), discontent with their right-leaning coalition with Artur Mas (CDC), but maybe more importantly they have attracted much of the leftist vote that in other elections went to not explicitly independentist Left options such as Iniciativa (ICV) or the popular lists that performed so well in the municipal elections, such as Barcelona en Comú of Ada Colau. The ambiguity on the national issue of the other Left list, Catalunya Sí que es Pot (ICV + Podemos + independents), has clearly played in favor of the CUP, which in any case already showed a clear growth and consolidation in all Catalonia. 

Instead Junts pel Sí has not even replicated the previous results of its constituent parties (CDC and ERC, although most candidates are actually independents, coming from socio-political movements for independence). However it has performed relatively well, no doubt owing to the exceptional nature of the list and the national self-determination nature of this vote. 

The unionist camp (39%)

The unionist parties have performed rather well as a whole, no doubt owing to the massive participation, again owing to the plebiscite nature of the election. The clear winner is Ciutadans (C's), originally a xenophobic and extremist unionist party that has however dramatically moderated its discourse on these matters and is instead being presented as the clean option of the Right in order to rally a much larger fraction of the vote, in Catalonia as in Spain. The yuppies' party has more than doubled its previous results and become the main unionist reference in Catalonia. It must be said that they were the only party running with a woman, Inés Arrimadas, as list head (although it is clear in group photos that all other leaders are men) and that in general they are projecting a positive image of youthful, reformist and anti-corruption "new conservatism" that clearly works to some extent.

The PSC-PSOE (pseudo-socialists, Blairites or liberals), after purging its nationalist fraction, has managed to survive in half-decent shape, with clear losses but much less than forecast. Much of this is no doubt owed to the unsuspected dancer qualities of their leader, Miquel Iceta, which went viral. Also from Madrid, the state leader Pedro Sánchez is behaving looking ahead to the general elections (to be held in a couple of months or so) as the true President, while the conservative leader Mariano Rajoy is instead showing an almost total leadership collapse, owing both to the corruption scandals that have revealed his party as a mafia and his own rather shy or near-autistic personality, which combined to the Galician psychological trait of not speaking clear for fear of repercussions, make him a very weak leader.

Adding to all that, the pretense of hard-handed firmness that they wanted to project has not worked and they have collected their worst ever result. 

The other camp (13%)

There were two notable options in the other camp. The least unsuccessful one has been Catalunya Sí que es Pot (Catalonia Can Indeed), which aimed to replicate the municipal success of ample Left platforms, detaching themselves from the independence debate and trying to put forward other issues such as the social emergency, which is very dramatic in Catalonia, largely owing to Mas' conservative policies but also to their lack of a separate fiscality, what makes the country dependent on Spain's good will on financial matters, good will that is invariably nowhere to be seen. 

Many of their potential voters therefore went to the CUP, or even to Junts pel Sí, being both options much more clear on the central issue of Catalonia's national self-rule. 

In any case the list can't be at all considered part of the "no" camp: both constituent political parties, the historical Iniciativa per Catalunya - Les Verts (ICV) and the newcomer Podemos include people who are in favor and against independence (but usually for much greater self-rule) but who consider that other issues are prioritary instead. Their official stand is for self-determination (unlike those in the "no" camp) and in any case for a Federal Republic, and not at all the centralist state with minor concessions that exists now. 

The other remarkable option is Unió, former minor associates with Artur Mas' Convergencia for many years, whose stand on the national issue is rather federalist as well, with recognition of the right of self-determination. On the event of an independence-focused election they decided to try to collect the third option votes but failed to get any representation whatsoever and a meagre 2.5% of the vote.

Among the rest of the undefined options the Animal Rights' platform PACMA is the most notable one. They are clearly very far from getting any representation but they are again in favor of self-determination for all animals, human or not. 

Provincial variation

The only province with some marked division is Barcelona (85 seats). In the metropolitan province, the secessionists got 39 seats, while the unionists gathered 37, the other 9 going to CSP. 

In Tarragona province (18 seats), the independentists won a clear majority of 10 delegates, while the unionists added up to 7 and CSP got just one. 

In Lleida (15 seats), the "yes" camp got 11 delegates, while unionists got 4 and CSP none.

In Girona (17 seats) the independentists obtained 12 seats, the unionists 4 and CSP the remaining one. 

Constituent Parliament

It is clear to me that the current parliament has a strong mandate to be the Constituent Assembly of an independent Catalonia. And I have little doubt that they will go ahead with the secessionist process, even if the particulars of government formation are still unclear.

However it is clear that Spain will react hard-handedly to any attempt at secession, which is technically "illegal". But how exactly they will manage the separatist will of a nation of 7.5 million people (some 16% of all of Spain's citizens) is yet to be seen. 

The Basque Country lacking

Here in the Basque Country things are moving slow however. While the Basque Nationalist Left (EH Bildu) clearly sees the Catalan movement towards independence as a window of opportunity and would like to join them in the process of secession from the Spanish jail of nations, they are alone on this will. While clearly the Basque Nationalist Left is much larger than the CUP relative to population, being now the largest all-Basque political option, it faces reluctant allies in each territory. 

In the Western Basque Country, the so-called Basque Nationalist Party is clearly spousing nowadays an anti-independence discourse with a federalist tinge. Rather than being the Basque version of Junts pel Sí, they are like the vanishing Unió party... but much much stronger in voter support. Unless voter attitudes change, there is no possibility of pushing ahead with an independence project without them. 

In Navarre the situation is even more complicated, owing to the strength of the unionist camp, which has forced a quadruple coalition between Nationalists and left-leaning Federalists in order to clean up the Old Kingdom from corruption, intolerance and cronyism. 

In the North (under French rule) the advance of the Basque Nationalist camp is still being consolidated after many decades or even centuries of relative absence. The small size and lack of any sort of self-rule of the Northern Basque Country make things even more complicated. 

Critically, if Catalans manage to get ahead with their independence project and we Basques do not, we will be in an even weaker position, without almost any allies in the reduced Spain. That would be very bad, no doubt.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Saber-ratting ahead of Catalan "independence" elections

After the Catalan independence referendum of November 2014 produced a 80.72% in favor of independence, but with very low voter turnout, and this result was flatly ignored by Spain, the Catalan government decided to call plebiscitary elections, which are normal regional elections a bit before schedule and with a twist. 

This twist was initially to gather all pro-independence parties and social movements into a single list that, assuming victory, would manage the declaration and implementation of independence, unilaterally if need be, in two years. Finally the leftist CUP (Popular Unity List) abandoned this plan because it was too much under the control of the two bourgeois parties allied in the current governmet (Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, CDC, and Catalan Republican Left, ERC) and is running on their own ticket. 

The joint list Junts pel Sí (Together for the Yes) is set to win and nearly all polls announce an independentist majority, which must count with the CUP in any case. The key legitimacy question is whether that majority of seats will correspond to a majority of votes. They are close (48-49% in most polls) but not quite there yet. On Sunday night we should get to know, stay tuned because this may be a game changer. 

It must be mentioned that another left-leaning list, Catalunya sí que es Pot (Catalonia Can Indeed, blend of Podemos, United Left and independents), set to be the third group in Parliament, is formally neutral on the issue of independence and tries to focus on social issues instead. Usually the media counts them as anti-independence but they are just not defined and do defend the right to self-determination in any case. The truly unionist parties could get some 38%, mostly around the quasi-fascist Ciutadans (Citizens), while the traditional Spanish twin party is just collapsing to anecdotal irrelevance. 

The latest Diada (Catalan National Day) demo on September 11th, rallied again some 1.5-2 million people in the streets, what is a huge figure in a country of just 7.5 million inhabitants. It may be unclear if they can muster a technical majority but it is very clear that they are a huge force. 

Diada 2015 (ETB photo)

Meanwhile in the military barracks

Yesterday I read that the 22nd Telecommunications Regiment of the Spanish Army, whose base sits right besides the state-owned Spanish Radio-Television (RTVE), has "invited" all workers of this company to swear loyalty to Spain precisely this week. The direction of the entity has backed the offer, which has no precedent whatsoever, not even in Franco's time. 

The poisonous invitation is very symptomatic of which are the state's plans for Catalonia: military intervention and suppression of the autonomy. As the campaign is still ongoing, ministers and other unionist politicians are avoiding this issue and focusing on "how bad" it'd be for Catalonia to become independent, but what will happen after Sunday? 

My expectation is that at some point Spain will just declare the martial law in the secessionist territory and try that way to block their ongoing process of self-determination. The consequences of such development are truly unpredictable. That's how Yugoslavia fell into war: by blocking manu militari the Kosovar process of self-determination. 

Mingled into all this are the all-Spain elections, expected to take place at the latest possible date: December, in which the ruling party PP, as well as the traditional other party PSOE, are set to lose much of their previous support. However a right-wing PP-Ciudadanos coalition or a great coalition PP-PSOE are being speculated about. 

So you are aware of what's going on when the events that will take place. I hope for the best but fear the worst.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Greek elections: a disaster for the European Left

What are you saying? Syriza won! 

Precisely. No means yes and other rape-justifying tall tales seem to have been paid off to Tsipras, who will now repeat coalition with the, more damaged but still alive, conservative party Independent Greeks, now impossible to take apart from their New Democracy matrix. 

On the other hand the consequent leftistsm who Tsipras moped out from the party so easily, have failed to cater enough support even to reach Parliament at all (final results anyone?) 

Greece is a Bundesbank protectorate and the so-called "radical left" will be allowed to manage it once they have humiliated themselves and their country in so many despicable ways.

And the Greek People, defeated and hopeless, have now sanctioned that with their vote. 

They could have stayed with the PASOK after all. This is not different at all. 

Now that Syriza is not anymore within the left, the remaining Left has only managed to gather some 9%, most of it to the old school commies of the KKE (6%). 

Sure, there are still the anarchists, who in Greece are more significant than almost anywhere else on Earth. But what do anarchist do other than complaining and carrying an aura of Utopian holiness?

Abstention was extremely high, almost 50%, but it doesn't mean that those abstaining did so in any "active" way, rather in a gesture of hopelessness and defeat. There were good options after all but the aura of negativeness seems to have defeated them all.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Corbyn's victory offers some hope for Europe

Honestly, I don't know enough about British politics to have a well pondered assessment on Jeremy Corbyn's victory in the Labour Party elections yesterday (with 59% of the votes) but I have enough intuition to understand that, if all the Blairites are angry, then it is probably something very good and hopeful.

Binoy Kampmark at Global Research reports some of the reactions: 

... former leader Ed Milliband, immediately made it clear that they would be reluctant to serve in a Corbyn ministry, shadow or otherwise.

Good sign.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, GCHQ’s finest errand boy and rank apologist, chose to congratulate Corbyn with a statement that “Labour are now a serious risk to our nation’s security, our economy’s security and your family’s security.”

Admittedly scarier but also very good sign.

Good sign as well. And the double photo, which will hopefully go viral, clearly underlines what the real issue is about: lizard or human?, wow, the English can finally make a choice now!

Not like in the last elections, when many of the potential supporters of Labour stayed at home out of anger. Some even asked to be allowed to vote for the Scottish National Party, the only large party with an anti-austerity platform - and a few went even further, asking for the annexation of Northern England (where leftism is more mainstream) to Scotland, preferably an independent one. 

Towards the end of Thatcherism?

It is not yet the end of Thatcherism, Babyface Cameron still rules in London with an iron grip, always at the service of his financier dark masters. But it seems it is at least the end of Left-Thatcherism (so to say: not much "left" in it), alias Blairism. 

And that is clearly very good news. These three and a half decades, all my adult and teenager life, have been a very dark time, even if masked by the mega-bubble that the ice-cream chemist began to inflate herself. The tide was set to march firmly to the right, to deregulation, to privatization of social capital, to the demolition of human and social rights, to something way too similar to outright fascism to be comfortable in. Every other day I consider if I should get myself exiled to Latin America... so dark is our Europe these days. 

So it is good to feel some refreshing wind of change. We'll see what it can do and how far it dares to reach but it is no doubt a sign that finally the mega-crisis has began opening the eyes of the people and that some spark of working class consciousness is arising again. And it is not the only such sign. 

As for the Labour Party... it had no other choice: it could never hope to win in the current context with a bourgeois program.


The anti-militarist curriculum of Corbyn is quite impressive, as Stephen Lendman, mentions (again at Global Research):
He’s a member of the Socialist Campaign Group, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Amnesty International, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and chairs Britain’s Stop the War Coalition.
He calls himself a democratic socialist, advocating renationalizing Britain’s utilities and railways, making business pay its fair share in taxes, ending austerity, reversing public welfare cuts, abolishing higher education tuition fees, nuclear disarmament, and quantitative easing for ordinary people, vital infrastructure and renewable energy projects.

He said “(w)e need to strongly challenge NATO supremacy and oppose its exercise in Ukraine.” He opposes Britain’s membership in the US-dominated Alliance.

His web site says “(o)ur timeless task in the Labour Party is to stand up against injustice wherever we find it. That notion has driven me throughout my political life – and it’s what drove me to stand for Parliament in the first place.”

In mid-August, he said “(s)urely it is high time that we had a serious debate about Britain’s overall defense and foreign policy. More than 60 years of Nato membership has brought us enormous levels of military expenditure and by our close relationship with the US through NATO and the Mutual Defence Agreement involved us in countless conflicts.”

“In a world beset by conflict, often around the grab for natural resources and fueled by the greed of arms and defence manufacturers, surely it’s time to reassess our priorities for a foreign policy based on human values, peaceful development and not exacerbating military aggression.”

This is potentially very important because if some state can effectively challenge NATO from inside those are Britain and France. Their might is a mere shadow of what it used to be a century ago but their military budgets are still very impressive, ranking just behind the three major powers, and their recent role in causing trouble in the Mediterranean and Africa is way too big. 

It was a bit notorious these days, in the midst of the refugee crisis in the European Union, that Britain, the European state most involved in causing the crisis by stirring the pot in Syria and in the wider region, infamous for selling weapons to horrible tyrannies like Bahrain or Saudi Arabia, for profiting from the cruelest wars in Syria and Yemen, for closely collaborating with the Washington hawks in creating these very wars, as well as the one in Ukraine... was not accepting a single refugee. 

So it would be indeed quite a change to have an anti-NATO government in London. That naturally explains the stark comment of Minister Fallon, who was maybe just being a bit too honest, but the prospect looks good, much better than with the Tsipras treacherous government in Athens and their preferential agreement with Israel. Surely someone with Corbyn's curriculum cannot betray us as Tsipras did, can he?

Even if he has held political offices in the past, he seems not quite your usual "caste" politician but someone with a social movements' background, a pretty solid one. Sure: I don't expect Corbyn to lead the takeover of Buckingham Palace or the City but rather to, hopefully, turn Britain into a beacon of home in Europe much as Venezuela or Bolivia are in America. They are not "communist" countries, just serious old school social-democracies. Not my ideal type... but still much better than what we have now. 

Anyhow... almost four year to elections in Britain. If they allow elections at all.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cizre: the new Kobane

Solidarity demo in Paris on Thursday
Dozens have been killed by the Turkish armed forces in the Kurdish town of Cizre, which is being cruelly besieged with the silent complicity of the Western media.

Much like when the Zionist forces march onto Gaza Strip, Turkish police just shoots down everyone who attempts to go out, people are dying for lack of access to medical care and the dead cannot be buried even. 

The victims: "Turkish citizens" (on paper only), their murderer: the Turkish state. 

The town has been gripped by persistent fight between the YDG-H (young organization akin to the Kurdistan Workers' Party) and the Turkish armed forces who try in vain and criminally to retake control of a town that just does not want them. 

According to Ankara some 30 people had died, many of them children. The situation is becoming extreme for the 100,000 inhabitants, as food and water are becoming scarce quickly. 

Telephone communications have been cut, as well as electricity and water supply, at least three European journalists attempting to report have been expelled from Turkey. 


The conflict between the Kurdish nation and the Turkish state, under Fascist-Islamist control, advanced yet another step to the worst possible scenario as pro-Erdogan militants attacked, crying "God is Great!" more than 300 sees of the multi-ethnic People's Democratic Party (HDP) on the night of September 8th to 9th, in what has been called the Night of Broken Glass of Turkey, and surely implies the end of even a semblance of democracy in the bicontinental state. The fascist attack did not just took against the HDP offices, some of which were burned to the ground without Western media reporting at all, but has also attacked historical secularist media like the popular newspaper Hürriyet (Freedom), whose central Ankara offices were totally destroyed. 

The situation of growing and widespread war in all Kurdistan and extremist violence backed by the state in Turkey proper makes impossible that the upcoming elections can be considered fair at all. In fact, it is very clear that Erdogan wants to use the violence to secure a comfortable majority for his fascist party and that way reform the constitution in order to grant himself even greater power and destroy the safeguards for secularism, turning Turkey into a Saudi Arabia of sorts... without the oil.

Source: Diagonal[es].