Rajoy loses Catalan elections - now it's time to throw him out
Statement published by the League for the Fifth International
THE ELECTIONS in Catalonia have not, as Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy gambled they would, broken the logjam in his favour. Indeed, his tactic has failed and even weakened his position. However, neither have they strategically strengthened the position of the three Catalan nationalist parties that declared independence on 27 October.
These parties; Junts per Catalunya, previously PDeCat, and before that CiU, the Republican Left of Catalonia, the Esquerra or ERC, and the Popular Unity Candidacy, CUP, have held on to a majority in the regional parliament, albeit reduced by two. Once again, however, the vote failed to demonstrate a majority of voters for independence; 47.2 per cent. The largest single party was the anti-independence neoliberal party, Ciudadanos, led by Inés Arrimadas. It won 1.06 million votes, or 25.4 percent of the electorate.
Nevertheless, these results represent a stinging rebuff to Mariano Rajoy and his “constitutional” coup d’état against the province’s autonomy and its elected government. If the 312,000 votes, 7.4 per cent and 8 seats, of Catalunya en Commu are taken into account, a clear majority has rejected Rajoy and his coup. This was underlined by the fact that his Popular Party in Catalonia, PPC, led by Xavier García Albiol, lost seven of its eleven seats and around half of its votes.
All the same, as long as Rajoy maintains his grip on power in Madrid, thanks to the shameful support he receives in parliament from the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, PSOE, the stand-off and resort to repression can continue. A number of the newly elected MPs are presently in prison or “exile”, and thus cannot vote in support of a separatist government. Although they could resign their seats for candidates lower down their party lists, it is likely that the Madrid government and judiciary would refuse to recognise such a government, and maintain or re-impose Article 155.
Indeed, as a signal of its intentions, on the very day after the election, a Supreme Court judge, Pablo Llarena, extended the charges of rebellion, sedition and the misuse of public funds to a further tranche of former ministers and officials. In effect, Catalan autonomy would remain suspended and any acts of defiance by the regional Assembly, however formal and symbolic, will be met with yet more arrests and repression. Alternatively, Rajoy may call a Spanish general election, which he would wage on a hysterically anti-Catalan, chauvinist basis.
Gestures of defiance to Rajoy will remain ineffective unless and until an active majority of Catalans, particularly Catalan workers, are willing to go beyond demonstrating and voting and take direct action with, as an absolute minimum goal, the restoration of the powers of an autonomous government and parliament. Thus far, however, the fact that a majority of Catalan workers oppose independence, added to the fact that the nationalists make this their first and last demand, mean that an active united front of resistance to Rajoy’s repression has not formed.
Yet, if the nationalists wish to escape from the impasse they are in, that is, the lack of backing by social forces willing and able to take action against Rajoy and the PP government, they will have to focus on more immediate and burning democratic demands and see the arena of their struggle for their rights on an all-Spanish basis. Though the Catalan parties have called for negotiations with Madrid, there is no reason to believe that Rajoy will engage in substantive talks now. Having let the genie of Spanish chauvinism out of the bottle, even if he wanted to, it would be difficult to put it back.
Given that the Partido Popular, backed by the arch reactionary judiciary and the Borbon monarchy, makes a principle of denying the right to self-determination to the nationalities which make up the plurinational Spanish state given, too, that they are armed with the undemocratic, post-Franco 1978 Constitution, there can be no negotiated and constitutional resolution of this deep political crisis.
Only the ousting of the (minority) PP government and the abolition of the “post-Franco” constitution can open the way to a solution which will allow the Catalans to decide whether they want to secede from Spain or be part of a federal republic which accords the country’s nationalities an autonomy that cannot be overruled from Madrid.
Democrats and socialists across Spain should demand on the streets and by general strike action the resignation of Mariano Rajoy and his whole government, the abdication of Felipe de Borbón and the calling of elections to a sovereign constituent assembly.
It is vital to link these democratic questions to the ending of the austerity policies that have worsened mass unemployment, especially for the young, increased homelessness and the repossession of people's houses, and run-down both health and social services. A fightback on these social issues, plus addressing the plight of refugees fleeing poverty and war in Africa and the Middle East, can unify working class people across the whole country and expose the capitalist governments of both Mariano Rajoy and Carles Puigdemont.
Right across Spain, workers' trade unions and socialist parties and anticapitalist youth should mobilise their forces at local and national level to take action. They need to create committees or councils to organise the fight, to mobilise mass forces that are able to defend themselves against the repressive forces of the state and to carry through a revolution that addresses all the key democratic and social demands and installs workers' power to ensure their execution. In the course of this struggle, the goal of recreating a mass revolutionary workers' party, free of the delusions of populism and nationalism needs to be addressed.
In the forefront of the movement's demands should be:
- The withdrawal of article 155 and the full restoration of autonomy to the Catalan Generalitat
- The unconditional release from jail, and the dropping of all charges against, the former Catalan ministers and leaders of the pro- independence organisations.
- The withdrawal of the extra Policia nacional and Guardia civil repressive forces from Catalonia and the removal of Madrid control over the Mossos.
- An end to theausterity policies being implemented at both all-Spanish and Catalan levels
- Down with Rajoy and the reactionary monarchy. For a federal workers' republic in Spain and in Catalonia