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.


Tracking, Deportations, Internment: European Countries Go on the Hunt for Migrants

On May 10, German chancellor Olaf Scholz strengthened Germany’s anti-migrant policy. This means more deportations, border patrol reinforcements, and economic agreements with sending countries. The new policy is being deployed throughout Europe.

Leo Stella

May 25, 2023
People in Berlin demonstrating on the 75th anniversary of the Nakhba.

Berlin Police Attack Jews and Palestinians Commemorating the Nakba

On the 75th anniversary of the Nakba, the Berlin police banned all Palestinian demonstrations, and broke up a demonstration of Jewish Berliners in solidarity with Palestinians.

Nathaniel Flakin

May 22, 2023

In France, There is No Return to Normal for Macron

Anger of the French people at Macron's pension reform is far from extinguished, despite moves by the Inter-Union bureaucracy which weakened the movement.

Juan Chingo

May 20, 2023

The French Union Bureaucracy Tries to Bury the Movement Against the Pension Reform by Resuming “Social Dialogue”

After historic May 1st protests, the Inter-Union announced the following day that the next mobilization will take place on Tuesday, June 6. This distant date appears only to be conceived of as a way to pressure the National Assembly, which continues its strategy of defeat and prepares to bury the movement.

Nathan Erderof

May 12, 2023


University of Michigan campus

Campus Cops Intimidate Grad Workers in Ann Arbor, Michigan

We publish here a statement by the Graduate Employees' Organization detailing and condemning the repressive tactics of the University of Michigan administration in response to the strength and resilience of striking grad workers.

Left Voice

June 1, 2023

#AllthatsLeftPod: Three Years Since the George Floyd Uprising:

In this episode of the podcast, we reflect on the 2020 George Floyd uprising, which began three years ago. We discuss how to turn the energy of a mass uprising into a sustained movement, and the kind of revolutionary leadership that's required to do so.

Left Voice

May 25, 2023

Fight Capitalism, Fight for Neurodivergent Liberation

Neurodivergent and disability liberation will have to come from the overthrow of capitalism and the building of a socialist system which values different forms of human behavior and directs resources to meeting human needs.

Sam Carliner

May 23, 2023
Prof. Gail Green-Anderson of LaGuardia Community College at a rally outside Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s Manhattan office on Thursday.

Rekindling the Militant Spirit of CUNY’s Past

Mayor Eric Adams has announced an austerity budget that includes significant cuts to the City University of New York among other city agencies. In order to defeat these cuts, students, faculty, and other workers across the city must unite our struggles and be prepared to shut the university down.

James Dennis Hoff

May 22, 2023