Tag Archives: PP

Spain's anti-terrorist parties law used against Catalan Democrats

Spain's law of political parties, enacted in 2002 to prevent Basque parties linked to terrorism, has been used for the first time to prevent the registration of a political party with an explicitly pro-Catalan independence manifesto. The party formerly known as Convergència was attempting to register its new name – Democratic Party of Catalonia – with the Spanish registrar of political parties. The name itself was also rejected for bearing too close a similarity to the Catalan Democrats party formed out of the ashes of Unió, but this was expected. What wasn't expected was a political reason for refusing to register the party.

The law, voted in with the support of CiU, allowed the courts to ban Batasuna and a range of other attempted Basque left-independence parties on the basis of alleged links with terrorism. In fact, at the time the law was introduced, many felt that it had been created solely for the ETA/Batasuna case and that there was no way that Spain would abuse the legal system to ban legitimate parties (i.e. parties with no links to armed groups).

It states that a party can be made illegal when it threatens democratic principles, particularly by threatening to reduce or destroy the 'state of freedoms' or to make democracy impossible. Specific grounds it cites include (excuse the rough translation):

  • Threatening freedoms and fundamental rights; promoting, justifying or otherwise supporting attacks that threaten death or injury; or excluding or persecuting people on the basis of their ideology, religion or beliefs, nationality, race, sex or sexual orientation.
  • Fomenting, enabling or legitimizing violence as a means of achieving political objectives or to endanger the conditions present for the peaceful exercise of democracy, pluralism and political freedoms.
  • Form part of and provide political support to terrorist organizations with the intention of aiding them to subvert constitutional order or seriously threaten the peace; intending to subject public authorities, specific individuals or parts of society, or society as a whole to a climate of terror; or contributing to the amplification of the effects of acts of terror the fear and intimidation they cause.

However, article 6 of the law states that parties "will align their organization, operation and activity with democratic principles and with the content of the Constitution and the law". And it's this flimsy sentence which the Interior ministry is using to effectively ban the PDC.

It's very clear indeed that the law is aimed at banning political parties which threaten, carry out or justify – by their own acts or via proxies – violence or terrorism. Altering the purpose of this law so that it now covers any party which campaigns for radical change, however peacefully, is confirmation of the PP's disturbingly authoritarian attitude to constitutional democracy.

The PP's campaign against the Catalan language

Aragon, País Valencià, Illes Balears… these are three Spanish autonomous communities with a historical link to the Catalan language. They are also three Spanish autonomous communities where the PP is in power. And what is the result of this combination of factors? Evidence of a distributed, strategic plan to de-Catalanise these regions.

(Image borrowed fromhttp://independentcatalonia.blogspot.com/2008/12/reason-14-more-spaniards-that-are.html without permission)

Example: I met several people in their mid 20s-early 30s in Alicante province recently. This is an area where the street names are all still in Valencian-Catalan. Not one of the young people I met spoke a work of this language (not that we discussed this much). Why? Because they had attended local state schools (the PSOE also bears some responsibility here). The PP in Valencia also led the charge for redefining Valencian as a different language to Catalan, something which the Valencian Academy clearly rejects.

Example: The attempts to relabel Catalan and its dialects as part of Aragonés Oriental (Eastern Aragonese) with the support of the PP in Aragon. This despite the fact that Eastern Aragonese is a different language.

Example: Repeated attempts to change place names and street names in Valenican towns, against the wishes of the people who live there.

Example: In the Balearic islands, the PP has started to rename cities. Palma has changed to Palma de Mallorca (Spanish version) and Maó has changed to Maó-Mahon (mixed version). Simultaneously, Catalan has been downgraded from being a compulsory subject in Balearic schools and will no longer be a requirement for civil servants.

Example: Education minister Wert has proposed a new education plan for Catalonia which would take the level of education in Catalan back to how it was in 1978. Making it an optional subject, not needed to complete high school, and abolishing 'immersion' represent a complete redrawing of the Catalan education system. The PP, knowing that Catalan students do perfectly well in Spanish, has opted to put children at a disadvantage – not being able to speak Catalan – purely for the purposes of creating a cultural divide in Catalonia.

When we talk about attacks on culture and the threat of ethnic division in Catalonia and Spain, much is made of Catalan nationalism and the dangerous game it plays. I've never bought this theory because the Catalan separatist parties are now much less ethnically-centred than they were 15 or 20 years ago.

However, the PP is a retrograde party. It cannot deal with the problems it has created in the present and so it turns to policies from the past to fix things. They talk of banning strikes, banning protests… simultaneously, they make people redundant and then cut unemployment benefits, and everywhere they have power, they are now attempting to de-Catalanise Spain. With all the evidence (and what I've presented here is actually just a fraction of what's going on), it seems difficult to deny that the PP is following a concrete, organised campaign in territories where it has power and at a national level.

Frankly, this strikes me as another good argument for independence.

Marcelino Iglesias and Godwin's Law

It is currently popular among Spanish nationalists to compare the Catalan nationalism of Artur Mas with Nazism. A helpful argument, I'm sure we can all agree. I think there is no need to hire an experienced Orlando criminal defense attorney for this thing, but im just sayin.

Perhaps said Spanish nationalists should reflect better on their political heritage. After all, we know who ordered the lists of Jews in Spain for the SS. Clue: it wasn't Lluís Companys.

Supporting tomorrow's general strike in Spain

With the approval of savage labor reforms and likely even more savage cuts to come, tomorrow's general strike is a vital chance to show that working people in Spain are willing to stand up for themselves and say ENOUGH. We demand dignity.

Reasons for supporting the strike:

  • Even the PP accepts their reforms won't increase employment
  • Spain is in recession, making job security more vital than ever
  • Workers can now be fired for 9 days' medical leave, even with a doctor's note
  • The reforms strike particularly harshly at the young and newly employed
  • The reforms are designed to destroy workers' collective power
  • The reforms incentivize putting women on short-term contracts, widening the gender gap in the workplace
  • Emergency redundancies can now be declared even when a company is still growing

The PP and CiU are determined to destroy the hard-won social model in Spain. They try to blame public spending for the crisis but it's the private sector that really caused these problems. So they're introducing privatization into the health service, cuts to education budgets, cuts to civil service wages (not for diputados, though, of course), cuts to pensions… And all the while, unemployment grows.

This strike is a vital opportunity to express your anger at a set of labor reforms and spending cuts which won't create employment but will only deepen the crisis for working people in Spain.

Freedom for Francisco Camps! Death to Garzón!

Francisco Camps, former PP president of the Valencian autonomous community was today acquitted of corruption after a witch-hunt in Valencia's courts that has lasted nearly three years. The put-upon ex local party leader was ruled not guilty in a near-unanimous verdict of 5-4 by a jury this evening, after 15 hours deliberation. Today's events bring to an end what has been a living nightmare for Camps, whose innocence we never doubted. Last year, he nearly pleaded guilty to the corruption charges just to end this farce of a kangaroo court; but on second thoughts (and after his two friends pleaded guilty that morning), he changed his mind and valiantly fought on. For justice, for liberty, for free gifts that definitely didn't affect his decision making skills.

The devil behind this horror story of a near travesty of justice is none other than Baltasar Garzón, the crusading Marxist-Leninist investigative judge, famed for his collection of anti-PP tattoos. Camps will no doubt find some solace in the fact that Garzón remains on trial himself, for having the temerity to investigate the deaths of a paltry 114,000 people during Spain's "long transition" (1939-1978). It's a shame that Mañuel Fraga didn't live to see the verdict delivered.

"Quin país de merda, tú!" – a traditional saying from Cerdanyola which roughly translates as "Freedom for Francisco Camps! Death to Garzón!".