Two million people in Catalonia voted for independence from the Kingdom of Spain. The conservative government in Madrid and the Spanish capitalist establishment had done everything in their powers to prevent a referendum. All major political parties rejected independence. From the right-wing conservative; People’s Party to the social-democratic; Spanish ”Socialist” ”Workers” Party ( PSOE ). All opposed the Catalonians their right to carry out a public referendum. The outcome of the referendum will not lead to genuine independence as Catalonia is still a part of Spain. The social democrats argued that the referendum was ”illegal”. It considers the Catalan referendum ”unlawful and disastrous”. A clear reminder of the 1936 Spanish Revolution, when revolutionary socialists and anarchists took power in Catalonia and tried to build a socialist society. The Spanish Socialist Workers Party and the Spanish Communist Party opposed this revolution, because they were the governing parties of the bourgeois-capitalist; Spanish Republic in 1936!
Like the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Spain is fearful of separatism. Catalonia has always been a rebel country like Scotland. Under dictator Franco ( 1939-1975 ), Catalonia was forced to bow to Spanish nationalism. Those who rejected the fascist dictator were arrested and tortured. It was not until 1980 that the people of Catalonia were allowed to form a parliament under Spanish law. The first elections for the parliament were held that year. In 2006, a referendum on the new Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia was held. 73% voted in favour of more autonomy from Madrid!
Still the 1978 constitution of the Kingdom of Spain does not grand self-governing for regions. The ruling conservatives and the social democrats use the constitution as a weapon, against those who want a independent Catalonia. Many workers and poor rallied these last months in support of a public referendum on independence. Madrid rejected them and warned that they would never allow anything that would result in a independent Catalonian state!
Spain is ruled by right-wing conservatives, who won the elections because the social democrats were punished for their austerity politics. Still the conservatives offer no alternatives and carry out the same austerity plans of the previous social democratic government. Since the economic crisis started in Spain, poverty and unemployed is on the rise. The response of the government was austerity, massive cuts on social welfare and privatization of state-assets. Workers and poor started with demonstrations and strikes. Then in 2011, the social democrats were defeated in elections and replaced by a conservative led government. The voter turnout showed that 1/3 of Spanish voters saw no alternatives in voting. 68% choose to vote and 44% of them voted for the People’s Party ( PP )!
Support for the two major parties is falling fast. Before 2008, both the PP and PSOE were able to get 80% of the voters behind them. The PSOE was regarded as socialist ( reformist ) and left, while the PP was called conservative and right. However because both parties enforce austerity and cuts in social security, their support has dropped to 50% of the voters. A huge blow in the face of the establishment as their political parties lose support among the Spanish people. The decision to endure Felipe VI as the new king of Spain was controversial for the PSOE. Many pro-republican members opposed the party’s move to support the new king. But the PSOE leadership stood by their monarchistic believes and again showed the Spanish working class, that they were loyal to the monarchy not to a republican form of government!
The Euro elections of 2014 showed that there was massive anger among the working class. The PP lost 16% of its voters, PSOE lost 15,8%. Big winners were United Left, a coalition around the Spanish Communist Party and the Podemos movement. Podemos means We Can in Spanish and is a new leftist force in the nation. It won five seats in the European Parliament, showing that a new and unknown party can win the support of the people. St￼ill Podemos is not socialist and offers no brake with the capitalist system. They work the same way as Hugo Chavez worked, a lot of populism and personal charisma. United Left used to be popular in the polls, but the leaders of the coalition were unwilling to promote socialism as the alternative. Therefore Podemos was able portray itself as the rebels in this election. Then there is a part of the United Left that wants to work with the PSOE and the capitalist establishment, which also fuels the inability of this coalition to gain support!
In Catalonia, many people reject the austerity plans of the conservative government. Independence is for many a alternative to austerity. Revolutionary socialists are supportive of a independent socialist Catalonia. However we reject capitalist independence. A capitalist Catalonia will not be able to offer anything better. This is why the main nationalist party is moderate and not revolutionary. They resemble the Scottish National Party, a party that promotes Scottish independence with a capitalist economy. Because many Scots feared that Scotland would be worse off under capitalism as a independent nation, they voted NO on their independence referendum!
Many in Catalonia would welcome a genuine referendum, which would give them a true voice. However Madrid has told them that separatism is unacceptable and not permitted by the 1978 constitution. Revolutionary socialists say; ”only working class struggle can guarantee the right to decide and resist austerity” Not the current leaders of Catatonia or those in Madrid can decide this!
Workers need a programme that argues for non-payment of the debt, the ending of all austerity measures, for investment in public services based on needs, for the right of self-determination, and the nationalisation of the banks and key sectors of the economy, under workers’ control and management.
With a programme such as this, working people in Catalonia can voluntarily link up with workers across the Spanish state in a socialist confederation, and also with workers in countries like Greece and Portugal, fighting for an alternative socialist Europe for the mass of people and not the capitalist elite. This is the best way to win independence and avoid the division of the workers of Europe and Spain. For a socialist Catalonia and socialist confederation – free and equal – of the Iberian peninsula Unite all the struggles – for a united front of the Left with a socialist programme and finally a socialist Europe!