Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Podemos Leader Pablo Iglesias Calls Catalan Independence Illegal

Today, the Catalan Parliament declared independence and the Spanish State, for the first time in history, invoked Article 155, dissolving all Catalan institutions. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias calls Catalan independence illegal.

Left Voice

October 27, 2017
Facebook Twitter Share

Image from La Vanguardia (Pedro Puente Hoyos / EFE)

Today, the crisis in Catalonia escalated and is now coming to a head. The Catalan Parliament declared independence, and the Spanish state punched back, imposing direct rule over Catalonia.

On October 1, the world watched as the Spanish state repressed Catalan citizens who sought to vote in an independence referendum. Hundreds were injured. There are countless videos and pictures of the Spanish police hitting voters with batons and confiscating ballot boxes. Yet the referendum vote continued, and 90% of voters took the side of independence of Catalonia.

Almost a month later, the Catalan Parliament voted for independence with 70 in favor, 10 against and 2 abstentions. Outside, hundreds of thousands took to the streets to cheer the vote for independence. In Barcelona, tens of thousands of people gathered, chanting “Freedom.”

Tens of thousands gathered in Barcelona’s Citadel Park to celebrate the independence declaration. [Juan Medina/Reuters]

Only a few minutes later, the Spanish Senate voted to approve Article 155 which puts Catalonia under the direct authority of the Spanish state and dissolves all Catalan institutions including the local governmental bodies and the local police. This is the first time since the Spanish constitution was formed in 1978 that Article 155 has been initiated, making this a truly unprecedented moment.

Following the Senate vote, the Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy said, “Spain is a serious country and a great nation and we will not tolerate a few people trying to liquidate our constitution.” The Spanish State has called for new election, dissolving the pro-independence Parliament.

The US, UK and Germany have all expressed support for the Spanish State. The European Union also sides with Rajoy, declaring that it does not recognize the October 1 referendum vote. Even given the brutal repression during the October 1 vote, the EU declared: “We trust the leadership of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to manage this difficult process in full respect of the Spanish Constitution and of the fundamental rights of citizens enshrined therein.”

During the October 1 referendum, voters were attacked by the police.

The majority of the Catalan people, who voted for and mobilized for independence, stand in opposition to the most powerful countries in the world and the Spanish state.. On October 3, a general strike brought Catalonia to a standstill. Barcelona’s streets were filled with workers and students as transportation, schools and businesses were closed to support independence. Over 15,000 demonstrated in Barcelona, calling Spanish police an “occupying force.” This general strike garnered solidarity across Spain with marches in cities like Madrid, Burgos, Zaragoza and others.

From Argentina, candidates of the Left and Workers Front spoke out in favor of self determination and urged the international left community to support the Catalan people against the Spanish State. They demanded that the Argentine government recognize Catalan independence, breaking with the imperialist countries who refuse to do so.

You may be interested in Support the Rebellion of the Catalan People and Their Right to Self-Determination

Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, leaders of the independence movement, have already been jailed by the Spanish State. This brought thousands to the street in protest on October 17. It is likely that the Spanish State, after ending Catalonia’s regional authority, will seek sedition charges against more pro-independence leaders.

Pablo Iglesis, leader of Podemos, called the declaration of independence illegal and illegitimate. He says that the pro-independence sector “had an electoral result that allows them to govern, not to declare independence.” At the same time, Iglesias positions himself against Article 155, saying that it would “do a lot of damage to Catalonia and to Spain.”

Podemos emerged from the indignados movement, a massive anti-austerity movement in 2011, and has won some electoral success since it broke into the political scene in 2014. Podemos Unidos has 70 representatives in Congress and governs many cities. Like Syriza, Podemos was cheered on by much of the left, including, for example, the recent DSA convention which featured a panel including Jose Manuel Rodriguez of Podemos.

Iglesias went on to say that, “Today, before what will happen in the Parliament and in the Senate, Rajoy and Puigdemont must have a telephone conversation.” He argues that the leaders of Spain and of Catalonia are ” sufficiently sensible to reach a minimum agreement that gives us breathing room.” This breathing room would include, of course, retracting the vote for Catalan independence and ignoring the will of the Catalan people which has been demonstrated in the streets and in the polls.

Prior to this scandalous declaration, Unidos Podemos (composed of Podemos and Izquierda Unida) called for “dialogue” and “understanding,” proposing the mediation of the Pope and the European Union. They do not support or acknowledge the legitimacy of the October 1 referendum, arguing that they want a “negotiated” referendum that would respect the framework established by the 1978 regime. Podemos said that it sought to defeat the independence movement “at the ballot box, without clubs or prisons.”

This middle of the road response can no longer hold as tensions escalate and Catalonia moves towards independence. Podemos had to chose a side, and today, they undoubtedly chose the side of the government. It chose the side that will repress the thousands in the streets of Barcelona right now.

The repression of October 1 may be small compared to the immense repression that Rajoy could bring down on the Catalan people as a result of this independence vote and concrete move to separate from the Spanish State. Iglesias turns his back on those workers and students who are in the streets celebrating right now, and who may tomorrow be in the streets facing the Spanish police. All progressives must position themselves in opposition to Article 155 and against the repression of the Spanish State. Podemos must put its immense political weight on the side of the workers and youth instead of leaving the Catalan people isolated to face off against the Spanish State and its imperialist backers. They must call for a huge movement against Article 155, against repression, and against a possible occupation of Catalonia by the Spanish armed forces.

Facebook Twitter Share

Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.


Thousands of Police Deployed to Shut Down Congress on Palestine in Berlin

This weekend, a Palestine Congress was supposed to take place in the German capital. But 2,500 police were mobilized and shut down the event before the first speech could be held. Multiple Jewish comrades were arrested.

Nathaniel Flakin

April 12, 2024

Fired by a German University for Solidarity with Palestine — Interview with Nancy Fraser

The University of Cologne canceled a guest professorship with the philosophy professor from The New School. In this interview, she speaks about Germany dividing between "Good Jews" and "Bad Jews," her politicization in the civil rights movement, and her time in an Israeli kibbutz.

Nathaniel Flakin

April 10, 2024

Pro-Palestine Activists in France Get Summons from Anti-Terrorist Police

As part of a repressive campaign against the movement for Palestine in France activists have gotten summons from “anti-terrorist” police. The movement for Palestine in the United States must oppose all repression of our movement here and in Europe.

Samuel Karlin

April 9, 2024

Berlin’s Mayor Loves Antisemites

Kai Wegner denounces the “antisemitism” of left-wing Jews — while he embraces the most high-profile antisemitic conspiracy theorist in the world.

Nathaniel Flakin

March 22, 2024


Liberal Towns in New Jersey Are Increasing Attacks on Pro-Palestine Activists

A group of neighbors in South Orange and Maplewood have become a reference point for pro-Palestine organizing in New Jersey suburbs. Now these liberal towns are upping repression against the local activists.

Samuel Karlin

April 12, 2024

“We Shouldn’t Let this Stop Us”: Suspended Columbia Student Activist Speaks Out

Aidan Parisi, a student at Columbia University’s School of Social Work, was recently suspended and has been threatened with eviction from their graduate student housing for pro-Palestinian activism on campus. Aidan talked to Left Voice about the state of repression, the movement at Columbia, and the path forward for uniting the student movement with the labor movement and other movements against oppression.

Left Voice

April 11, 2024

The Movement for Palestine Needs Independent, Working-Class Politics

As the brutal genocide of Palestinians continues with the help of the Biden administration, there is maneuver underway to co-opt the movement for Palestine. We need to have a democratic and independent movement that relies on the power of the working class, the student movement, and mobilizations in the streets.

Tatiana Cozzarelli

April 7, 2024
A hand holds a phone which displays the TikTok Logo

We Don’t Want TikTok Under Control of U.S. Capitalists — Put It Under the Control of its Workers and Users

The U.S. government wants to force the sale of the incredibly popular Chinese social media app. A TikTok owned by U.S. capitalists will only make things worse. We want TikTok under workers' control!

Nathaniel Flakin

April 6, 2024