Archive for the ‘Spain’ Category
Anybody following Podemos knows that la casta, the political ‘caste’ is one of their key words.
It is not a novel concept. It was used in the twentieth century, but has now regained prominence. Both in Italy , where Beppe Grillo’s Movement Five Stars (Movimento Cinque Stelle) uses it often, as in Spain where Podemos has practically patented it since it’s erupted on the political scene, caste is defined simplistically and in Carl Schmitt’s terms, designates the enemy , which can be bankers, the old parties, the market or all at once. (Adapted from here).
The critical tone of this definition may well be true.
But nobody can deny that it refers to a reality, which will have a bearing on the debate in the lead up to the December General Elections in Spain.
The Catalan nationalists are portrayed sympathetically in Britain, above all by their friends in the ‘centre-left’ Scottish Nationalist Party, but even by some on the left, as hard-done-by freedom fighters against the Spanish ‘state’.
In fact the below indicates that they are one of the worst examples of the Spanish “political caste”- which amply justifies Podemos’ hostility to them.
We doubt if this trait is confined to Pujol’s Convergència Democrática de Catalunya (CDC)
Police search properties of Catalan ex-premier Pujol and three of his sons. 27th October. El Paìs.
Raid is related to money-laundering and fraud investigation into eldest son of the family.
The Spanish National Police on Tuesday raided the homes of former Catalan premier Jordi Pujol and three of his seven children in connection with a criminal investigation into tax fraud and money laundering.
Officers searched the personal residences of Pujol and of his sons Jordi Pujol Ferrusola (Junior), Josep and Pere after securing a warrant from High Court judge José de la Mata, sources familiar with the investigation told EL PAÍS. Several business premises are also being searched.
The raids are part of an investigation into the former premier’s eldest son, Jordi Pujol Ferrusola, also known as Junior, who is believed to have benefited from his father’s position of power through lucrative contracts from the regional government.
The reason officers raided Pujol senior’s home on Tuesday was that his eldest son is temporarily living there to recover from a recent surgery, explained the same sources, adding that only the son’s bedroom is being searched.
But this Madrid-led investigation is tied to another ongoing probe into the origin of the Pujol family fortune.
In January, the Pujol patriarch testified in a Barcelona court and told the judge that the millions of euros his family kept in Andorra and Switzerland were an inheritance received from his own father, Florenci.
Political corruption is the origin of the fortune amassed over the years by the eldest son of long-serving former Catalan regional premier Jordi Pujol, according to the police.
Jordi Pujol Ferrusola has been targeted by investigators for over a yearafter a former girlfriend told the police that he often travelled to Andorra and returned with bags full of €500 notes.
The new report links Pujol Ferrusola’s highly successful business ventures to “political initiatives by people within his most intimate circle,” an apparent reference to his father, Jordi Pujol.
Pujol senior, 84, was in power for 23 years, and was head of the nationalist party Convergència Democrática de Catalunya (CDC), one half of the CiU bloc that rules the region. He was Catalonia’s most renowned leader and is considered a father of Catalan nationalism.
Pujol Ferrusola reportedly received lucrative contracts from the regional government of Catalonia
But on Saturday, the legend sustained a severe blow when Pujol admitted in a letter that he has kept a fortune in tax havens for 34 years, and has only recently settled his dues with the Tax Agency.
Critics say that Pujol has now confessed in an attempt to take the heat away from his seven children, two of whom have been investigated for questionable business practices. In the letter, Pujol claimed that it was his own father, Florenci Pujol, who made a fortune and passed it on to his grandchildren in 1980. This, then, would explain the large amounts of money handled by Pujol Ferrusola.
But the police are working with a different hypothesis, and their conclusion is that the eldest son’s fortune “cannot be explained by income from the legal economy.” The report says that Ferrulosa “benefited indirectly” from an environment that “generated a network of influences” that reached all the way to “regional agencies.”
Pujol Ferrusola reportedly received lucrative contracts from the regional government. In 1991, Natural Stone, a firm specializing in quarry rock, won a €600,000 contract to supply marble for the floors at Barcelona’s El Prat airport. Pujol Ferrusola and his then wife Mercè Gironés were, respectively, vice-president and administrator at an affiliate, Natural Stone Marketing Centre.
And then there is Active Translation, a translation company-turned-real estate administrator. In 2004, Pujol’s brother-in-law Ramon Gironès became the sole manager of the firm. A short time later, Active Translation sold its shares in another company, Gestió i Recuperació de Serveis, for nearly €5.3 million. The sale is suspect because Gestió’s assets were worth only €350,000 in 2002. Investigators believe the case may be linked to a public bid for a contract that was won by Gestió in 2002, when Pujol Ferrusola was still a shareholder.
In another case, Pujo Ferrusola and his wife bought two countryside properties in 2002 for €217,000, and sold them four years later for €4.8 million. A month later, the land was rezoned by the city of Palamós to allow residential building.
Meanwhile, his brother Oriol Pujol has also been investigated for bid fixing for ITV vehicle inspection stations in Catalonia.
The Catalan version has a whole section, Diners a paradisos fiscals – money in tax havens.
The Tendance is fond of the expression “paradis fiscal” (the French version) – fiscal paradise.
One suspects that Catalan nationalism likes to think it’s in political paradise these days.
Let’s hope this latest episode in a long saga halts their ambition to cut off subsidies to the ‘lazy’ Southern Spanish people, and let the most prosperous section of Spain keep all its ‘own’ money.
We can’t, not yet….
This morning the Spanish radio was full of the fall-out, and the ‘fractures’, resulting from the results of the Catalan elections.
- The pro-independence front loses the referendum. The anti-independence forces account for 52 percent, compared to the secessionist bloc’s 47 percent. It’s inconceivable that with these results, once the the cava wine bubbles evaporate, any serious politician (in Catalonia) will propose a unilateral declaration of independence. That would be undemocratic. But it’s the first time that the option to secede takes such flight: more than 1.9 million votes is a cry that no serious politician (in Madrid) can ignore.
- In the polls, Ciudadanos breaks the roof: it tripled the results of the previous elections and, with 25 seats, stole the spotlight. The Sorpasso (overtaking) of the People’s Party (PP) in Catalonia is a warning: will this happen again in the general elections in December? We will never know what result Albert Rivera would have achieved if he had been the candidate of the Generalitat, the Catalan government; but being the second force in Catalonia gives wings to his aspirations to get to the Moncloa Palace.
- The PP is increasingly irrelevant in Catalonia: it lost 10 seats, including Badalona — where Xavier García Albiol was mayor — which went to Junts pel Sí. It’s a real slap in the face for the party and its campaign strategy. Today, there is a cold wind in Moncloa and Genoa street: Rajoy is proving to be incapable of facing the challenges in Catalonia.
- After a spectacular gain (from 3 to 10 seats), CUP now has the key to governance in Catalonia. If it fulfills its promise of not voting for Artur Mas as president, Junts pel Sí will be forced to come to an agreement on another candidate… and internal battle is guaranteed.
- Podemos loses momentum: ICV alone got more seats (13) than the new coalition. The 10 deputies Podemos got in the parliament is very far from what it had hoped for. Does it mean that its success in the past municipal elections — Barcelona, Madrid, Cadiz, Zaragoza — was the zenith of its political career? (NOTE: it went up to 11)
- The socialists are still alive. Maintaining almost the same numbe
- When 77 percent of Catalan citizens vote, the message is strong and clear. The pro-independence front, which brings together Junts pel Sí (Together for Yes) and the CUP (Popular Unity Candidacy) party, earned a clear majority in the Catalan parliament, winning 72 seats. It now has the legitimacy and strength, said Artur Mas, to keep pursuing its dream of secession.
- r of votes as in the last Catalan elections — after the internal bleeding and the appearance of new parties that contest their ideological territory — justifies Miquel Iceta’s sigh of relief, despite having lost four seats. And those half a million Catalan votes are worth their weight in gold in Pedro Sanchez’s race toward the Moncloa Palace.
Together for Yes (JxSí)[b][c] 1,620,973 39.54 Increase3.11 62 Increase4
Citizens-Party of the Citizenry (C’s) 734,910 17.93 Increase10.36 25 Increase16
Socialists’ Party of Catalonia (PSC-PSOE) 522,209 12.74 Decrease1.69 16 Decrease4
Catalonia Yes we Can (CSQEP)[d] 366,494 8.94 Decrease0.96 11 Decrease2
People’s Party of Catalonia (PPC) 348,444 8.50 Decrease4.48 11 Decrease8
Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) 336,375 8.20 Increase4.72 10 Increase7
Democratic Union of Catalonia (UDC)[c] 102,870 2.51 Decrease5.47 0 Decrease13
Animalist Party Against Mistreatment of Animals (PACMA) 29,785 0.73 Increase0.16 0 ±0
Zero Cuts-The Greens (Recortes Cero-Els Verds) 14,390 0.35 Increase0.28 0 ±0
Let’s Win Catalonia (Ganemos) 1,158 0.03 New 0 ±0
Pirates of Catalonia-To Decide Everything (Pirata.cat/XDT) 326 0.01 Decrease0.49 0 ±0
El País commented,
Pablo Iglesias ha construido alrededor de Podemos una épica de partido ganador que ayer, tras lograr en las elecciones catalanas un resultado que sus propios dirigentes consideran decepcionante, sufrió el mayor revés desde su nacimiento.
Pablo Iglesias has built around Podemos an epic in which they are the winning party. But yesterday, after the results of the Catalan elections, which their own leaders considered disappointing , the party suffered the biggest setback since its birth.
We should observe that Podemos (link to their site here) did not go it alone this time. Inside Catalunya Sí que es Pot (CSQEP) they were allied with Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds (Red Greens), and Esquerra Unida i Alternativa, (the more directly linked to the left bloc, Izquirda Unida).
This in itself is a step forward for a group that appeared to wish to ‘go it alone’ to the extent of organising, its own demonstrations against austerity rather than create united fronts.
What are the consequences of this poor result – not to mention their eclipse by a right-of-centre populist party, Ciudadanos ? *
Iglesias has announced today (Iglesias ofrece un referéndum catalán en el que pediría el ‘no’) that if Podemos wins the nation-wide general election he will offer a proper referendum to the Catalans, in which his party will campaign against the separatists and for a multinational and pluralist Spain.
Inside Podemos some have criticised the alliances that they made in Catalan with left-wing and Green forces, declaring that people did not understand the “alphabet soup” (CSQEP) that resulted on the ballot paper.
It will be interesting to follow further developments.
“..populism requires the division of society into two camps – one presenting itself as a part which claims to be the whole; that this dichotomy involves the antagonistic division of the social field, and that the popular camp presupposes as a conditions of its constitution the constriction of a globalised entity out of the equivalence of a plurality of social demands.” (Page 83. On Populist Reason. Ernesto Laclau. 2005)
Enthusiasm for Podemos on the European Left, including Britain, was until recently widespread. It was accepted that the party had managed the difficult feat of giving a political voice to the indignados movement. That it has built a ‘populist’ constituency through language and demands that welded together the 99% against the 1%. That it used the (in Laclau’s words) ‘floating signifiers’ of the ‘people’ (crushing majority) against the Spanish ‘casta’ and had created a democratic organisation capable of challenging the rule of finance and the dominance of economic austerity. It is new, it uses the Net, it encourages direct communication not tired old bureaucratic structures, or divisions between the historical left and right.
This could be tied into the argument offered by Paul Mason in Postcapitalism ( 2015). That, “By creating, millions of networked people, finally exploited but with the whole of human intelligence one thumb-swipe away, info-capitalism has created a new agent of change in history: the educated and connected human beings.”
Mason also asserts that, “In Europe, repressing policing and a untied front of all parties in favour of austerity beat the indignados into a sullen silence. But the results showed that revolution in a highly complex, information-driven society would look very different from the revolutions of the twentieth century. Without a strong, organised working class to push social issues rapidly to the fore, the revolts often stall. But order is never fully restored.” (Page xviii)
But in general enthusiasm for new groups like Podemos, with no visible links to the workers’ movement, is widespread. There is a constant search for new political agencies to replace the ‘old’ left and labour movement. In Mason’s case, despite his own above warning, this went so far as to make this extraordinary claim, “Scotland, “presented with the opportunity to break with a neoliberal state and start afresh, millions of young people said, ‘Yes’ “(Page xix)
There is little doubt that there is a great deal of political fluidity in Europe today. Movements to break up existing states, often from the wealthiest regions of a country (as in Catalonia or in Italy with the Lega Nord) tired of paying for poor and apparently lazy ‘southerners’ , appear part of this process. The strong showing of the Catalan sovereigntists was welcomed by forces from the Scottish National Party, promoting the interests of their ‘ain folk’ against ‘Westminster, the hard-right Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (Belgium), who dislike the former industrial French speaking and Socialist voting Walloon, and some leftists – the latter apparently convinced that Barcelona tax-payers are right not to want to subsidise their feckless compatriots.
Podemos may, or may not, be capable of offering what Mason (in the most significant part of Postcapitalism) calls “revolutionary reformism”. Mason’s list of ideas, a third managerial revolution, switching off the neoliberal privatisation machine, suppressing or socialising monopolies is attractive. But everything depends on a political vehicle to implement them in a recognisably effective form.
That is, the need a political forces capable of reaching and transforming existing political institutions. They have to connect ‘giving voice’ to protests, social interests (not least the labour movement) and being capable of administering solutions. They need parties.
In the case of Podemos this, which Ernesto Laclau called the “moment of articulation” – that is the details of how political parties operate – is becoming unstuck. No doubt the ripple effect of the defeat of Syriza’s anti-austerity programme counts for much in their present impasse. They may have woven ‘floating signifiers’ together, but what anchors them?
Podemos’ vaunted horizontal democracy (apparently giving shape to Mason’s ‘networks’) is paralleled by an internal structure, built as a pyramid around a leader. This is deeply problematic and pretty much casts its claims to novelty to the dustbin. Iglesias has as El País indicates, a self-defined “epic” in which he will valiantly take on the Spanish ‘casta’. Like a figure in the Game of Thrones (a box set of which he generously donated to the Spanish King Felipe VI) he is surrounded by intrigue. He finds it hard to work collaboratively. Forced to accept alliances with other forces, like the Green Equo and the long-standing Izquirda Unida, he has the ill-grace to refuse to take any joint responsibility, in the political battles.
Now that it is clear that Podemos has not the remotest chance of forming a future government in the Cortes Generales it will be of interest to see how his authority is maintained.
* Ideologically, C’s describes itself as a progressive, secular, constitutionalist, European federalist and postnationalist party. In addition, Albert Rivera has said that C’s defends autonomism. According to its declared identity signs, C’s advocates four basic lines of action: Defence of individual rights. Defence of social rights as well as the welfare state. Uphold the State of Autonomies and Europe’s unity. Regeneration of democracy and of political life. Wikipedia.
Success Less and Less Clear.
El Pais reports that this week’s internal primaries for the coming Spanish elections invovled only 16% of the sympathisers entitled to vote, around 60,000 people. Of these 82% plebiscited Pablo Iglesias as candidate for the Presidency of the government.
Iglesias has declared that the level of participation was “muy alta”. El Pais
This comes as Podemos slips ever lower in the opinion polls, hovering at 15% (from a high of over 30% only last November).
This week the French Communist Daily, l’Humanité published a scathing attack on Iglesias by Jean Ortiz (« Podemos » et la machine à perdre ?). Ortiz lost no time in ascribing the downward path and loss of support of Podemos to the Iglesias leadership.
Citing theParty boss’s lengthy interview in New Left Review he noted how the lider maximo had effectively reduced anti-republicanism to giving the Spanish Royal a box set of Game of Thrones. Other policies, from feminism, secularism, the removal of NATO bases, and even, a central plank of their programme, debt renegotiation, had been dropped or played down. He also gave prominance to the continuing attacks on the Spanish left alliance, the Izquirda Unida.
Others blame Iglesias’ overwhelming vanity for loss of momentum and political direction of Podemos.
Populist Party Losing Popularity.
17th July Simple Lógia.
Evolution of Podemos support:
From 31% (December 2014) to the present, 14,9%
More (just out)
MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s governing People’s Party (PP) and the main opposition socialists (PSOE) have pulled well ahead of anti-establishment party Podemos ahead of national elections later this year, polls showed on Sunday.
Voter support for the center-right PP stood at 29.1 percent while the PSOE was on 25.1 percent, according to a survey by pollsters GAD3 published in Spanish daily ABC.
Support for Podemos, which transformed Spain’s political landscape in mid-June when leftist municipal coalitions it backed took power in four of the country’s five biggest cities, fell to 15.0 percent.
A second survey, by research firm Simple Logica and published on news portal larepublica.es, produced a similar result.
The findings contrast with recent polls that have shown the three parties running virtually neck-and-neck. In a survey from Metroscopia, considered the benchmark in Spain, published in El Pais on July 5, they all stood at between 21.5 and 23 percent.
Both the GAD3 and Simple Logica surveys questioned around 1,000 voters. The former was conducted between June 23 and July 8 and the latter from July 1-9.
The parliamentary elections are expected to take place in November.
One of the problems about “populism” is that it evaporates when a movement is not “popular”
Some on the British left, who bathed the reflected glory of Syriza when it won a merited victory, are now fighting to the last impoverished Greek against Alexis Tsipras.
Now that the party of Pablo Inglesias is not doing well, can we expect the same people to turn on Podemos?
Note: we cannot blame this on the fall-out from the present state of the Greek crisis as the score really began to go down in March.
Podemos Leader Faces Challenging Times.
La izquierda alternativa desafía el plan de Iglesias para las generales
The Left Alternative challenges Iglesias’s plans for the General Election.
Reports El Paìs today – translated/adapted. (Hat-Tip to SH)
Under the name Ahora en Común, a group of the left of Podemos have, on Thursday, set in motion an initiative to promote “popular unity” for the general election, candidacies in the style of the’ ‘ciudadanas’ citizen-city lists (governing in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza. The platform, with the backing of Podemos office holders, Izquidra Unida (IU – united left, groups based on democratic communists and radical left socialist and green groups, formerly the largest left alliance in Spain) and those from these lists, is a setback to the strategy of Pablo Ingelisas , who wants the other forces of the alternative left to join behind him, under his “umbrella”, for the election. IU’s candidate, Alberto Garzón, whose own proposals for unity have already been rejected by Iglesias, has welcome the proposals.
The manifesto was signed by representatives of Podemos, candidates of “popular unity”, the United Left (IU) and Equo (Spain’s Greens). These include Jorge Suarez, mayor of Ferrol (Ferrol in Common), Isidro Lopez, deputy in the Assembly of Madrid, Diego Pacheco, a member of the regional management of the organisation in Madrid, Rosa Martinez, spokesperson for Equo, Pablo Carmona, Councillor for Ahora Madrid, Mauricio Valiente, former candidate of IU Madrid and Councillor also now Madrid, IU MEP Javier Couso or Eduardo Garzon, economist and brother of the candidate of the d’ederación de izquierdas’ (federation of the lefts), Alberto Garzón.
You can see the – growing – list of those backing Ahora en Común (Now, Together! ) here.
Iglesias’s response has been to say that he does not need unity between parties, but unity between people.
“El líder de Podemos afirma sobre la plataforma ciudadana que “la unidad popular no es la unidad de partidos, es la unidad de la gente”. (El Diario).
Presumably behind, himself, and his leadership of Podemos…..
…it didn’t take long to find accusations, discussed in Podemos itself, that Igelsiais appears “proud and arrogant, and who refuses to join with anybody else, even at the cost of losing votes”. “que parece arrogante y soberbio, que se niega a confluir con nadie aun a costa de perder votos. Beatriz Gimeno and Carmen San José. Mardid Assembly Councillors Podemos. (Viento Sur. – Left grouping part of Podemos)
These problems follow Podemos distancing from Greece’s Syriza. (Guardian 6th of July)
For the past year, they have positioned themselves as allied agents of a change sweeping across southern Europe.
On the face of it, Spain’s leftwing anti-austerity Podemos party should have been crowing at the landslide victory of the no vote in Sunday’s Greek referendum. But while Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias was quick to praise Syriza and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, his overriding message was a simple one – Spain is not Greece.
With a general election due in Spain by the end of the year, Iglesias, whose party made substantial gains in local elections earlier this year, was careful to mark the differences between the two countries, worried, analysts said, that any worsening of the situation in Greece could drive crucial middle-class voters away from his party.
“We have a great friendship with Syriza, but luckily, Spain is not Greece,” Iglesias told radio Cadena Ser. “We’re an economy with much more weight in the eurozone, we’re a country with a stronger administration and with a better economic situation. The circumstance are different and I think it makes no sense to draw parallels.”
Instead, Iglesias framed the referendum as a step forward for democracy in that the Greek people had finally been handed the power to decide on austerity measures. “It’s good news for Europeans and Greek citizens,” said Iglesias. “The people of Greece have said they want change, they support a government who says that things can be done in a different way.”
The referendum was a clear success for Tsipras, said political scientist Fernando Vallespín from Madrid’s Autonomous University. “The automatic assumption is that what is good for Tsipras is good for Podemos,” he said, but he feels it is too early to say whether that is the case, pointing to the efforts made by Iglesias to distance Spain from Greece. “I think Podemos is worried that the situation in Greece won’t get better.”
Reinforcing the differences between the countries dampens the idea of contagion, he said, and maintains the party’s appeal to moderate voters. The latest polls show Podemos is in a virtual tie with the governing People’s party and opposition Socialists.
Podemos must walk a fine line when it comes to Greece, said José Ignacio Torreblanca, the author of Asaltar Los Cielos, or Storm the Heavens, which explores the rise of Podemos. “On one hand it’s good news for them, because the message of the people having voted against austerity strengthens their message. The frame for them is fantastic because its the people against the troika, David against Goliath and the weak against the powerful,” he said.
The challenge, however, is then to distance themselves from any bad news emerging from Greece. “This is where the space opens for the People’s party and others to point to issues such as the queues for cash machine withdrawals. All of the parties have been trying to use Greece to their advantage.”
Followed by this reaction:
Guillermo Zapata, Ahora Madrid, Backed by Podemos, Resigns From Madrid Council over anti-Semitic Tweets.
Ahora Madrid Faces First Hiccup.
The Local, an English language Spain based site, reports,
Guillermo Zapata, resigned as Madrid’s cultural councillor on Monday just 48 hours after accepting the role under new Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena, amid a row over anti-semitic ‘jokes’ that he tweeted back in 2011.
He had defended himself after tweets dating back to 2011 came to light arguing that they were made in the context of a debate on dark humour and before he went into politics.
On Sunday he closed down his Twitter account and apologized for the damage he caused but the row escalated and Carmena accepted his resignation on Monday afternoon.
The hashtag #ZapataDimision (Resign, Zapata) went viral in Spain, just one day after activists from the Indignados movement that organised mass street protests in 2011 became mayors in Madrid and Barcelona.
Zapata had made deeply offensive jokes about the Holocaust and gas chambers used by the Nazis during World War II. In another tweet, he had also taken aim at a victim of an attack by Basque separatist group ETA.
In a statement posted on social media platform Tumblr on Sunday, Zapata apologized, and said his jokes had been prompted by a debate on “the limits of humour”.
Claiming he did not identify with the content of his own tweets, Zapata said he was taking part in an online debate prompted by the sacking of a columnist of national daily El Pais, after he made a joke denying the Holocaust.
“Now some of those tweets, which were written within the context of a conversation on black humour, have been recovered with the goal of presenting them as though they represented my ideas — while in fact I do not defend them at all,” Zapata wrote.
“I firmly condemn all forms of racism, and, of course, anti-Semitism. I believe the Jewish Holocaust teaches us a lesson that humanity must never forget, so that it is never repeated,” he added.
Guillermo Zapata is a member of Ahora Mardid – the Madrid election front, which is backed by Podemos, and embraces a range of other forces, including other leftists and citizens’ groups). It defines itself as “«candidatura ciudadana de unidad popular» citizen platform of popular unity, and as a «partido instrumental sin vida orgánica» (an instrumental party without organic internal life). Wikipedia on this bloc and its ‘new politics’: English, Spanish.
This incident perhaps reflects a problem with the entry of ‘new’ political forces without an “organic internal life”.
Zapata’s background as a script-writer and cultural activist from the (conservative) ABC:Guillermo Zapata, de guionista anónimo a edil de la discordia.