Madrid court outlaws anti-capitalist party
Published May 25, 2009 11:00 AM
By outlawing a new political party from an upcoming June 7 ballot, ruling
circles in the Spanish regime are exposing their links to the 36-year-long
fascist reign of Francisco Franco. Their latest anti-democratic step involved
fraudulent charges to prevent the newly formed International
Initiative—Solidarity among the Peoples (II-SP) organization from
competing in elections to the European Parliament.
Spain’s Supreme Court on May 16 by an 11-5 majority supported a lower
court decision to ban the II-SP. The new party is appealing to the
Constitutional Court to reverse this, while waging an international petition
campaign to gain support. A final May 21 decision is likely to maintain the
ban, unless a massive struggle arises to reverse it.
The courts are imposing the ban in the midst of the economic crisis that
exploded in 2008 and hit Spain much harder than most other developed capitalist
countries. The “housing bubble” burst with a fury in Spain,
stopping almost all new construction projects. Official unemployment climbed to
more than 17 percent in April. Young people can’t find permanent
To underline an anti-capitalist solution to this crisis, some leftist parties,
both on a federal level and in the regions that consist of oppressed nations
within the Spanish state, joined together this spring to form the II-SP. They
offered a relatively broad but clearly anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist
The II-SP competes not only with rightist bourgeois parties like José
María Aznar’s People’s Party, but also with Prime Minister
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s governing Socialist Workers
Party (PSOE). It considers Zapatero pro-capitalist, despite his
“socialist” label. It competes even with the United Left (IU)
movement—the traditional Spanish left close to the Spanish Communist
Party—that revolutionaries consider to be trapped inside the capitalist
Historically, the Spanish state has included at least four peoples or
nationalities. The people of Galicia in the northwest, of Catalonia in the
east, and of the Basque Country in the northeast have been under the heel of
the Castilian ruling class. Repression was especially brutal during the Franco
period against local customs and any languages other than Castilian
Today it also includes immigrants from Africa and Latin America, who face
In carrying out the struggle for Basque self-determination, Basque freedom
fighters set up an organization in 1959 known as ETA, an acronym for the Basque
words meaning Basque Homeland and Freedom. ETA evolved into a guerrilla group
that carried out armed actions against the Spanish state, both during the
fascist period and afterwards.
The Spanish ruling class took the same approach toward ETA as the British
rulers did toward the Irish Republican Army and the U.S. toward Puerto Rican
patriots: repression. They hunted down ETA members and also jailed thousands of
Basques involved in political struggles.
This repression extended to pro-independence political organizations in the
Basque Country. The “Law of the Parties” of 2002 outlawed Batasuna,
the political party that shared the same political program as the guerrilla
group ETA. After Batasuna was made illegal, the AVN (Basque Nationalist Action)
was set up to politically represent Basque self-determination. The courts then
Thus in today’s Spanish state, Basques who are for independence or
autonomy have no legal political party, while former fascist youth like Aznar
can run the government.
II-SP supports self-determination
The II-SP supports self-determination for Galicia, Catalonia and the Basque
Country. The leading figure on the II-SP ticket, world-famous playwright and
historical anti-fascist elder Alfonso Sastre, also led the AVN ticket in a
recent election before the AVN was banned. Number two on the II-SP slate, Doris
Benegas from the Castilian Left, and number five, Ángeles Maestro of the
Red Current, are leaders who have politically supported Basque
self-determination. They participated in meetings supporting Basque political
prisoners and honoring Basque martyrs.
As Maestro told the media, none of these candidates belongs to ETA, nor does
the II-SP advocate armed struggle, nor are the candidates of Basque
nationality. Yet the Spanish regime and courts have applied the “Law of
Parties” to outlaw the II-SP from the election.
The state’s argument—if you can believe it—is that Basques
who support Batasuna and who see Sastre heading the list might consider II-SP
an indirect representative of Batasuna’s program. Pro-independence
Basques might feel inspired by voting for II-SP and encouraged to continue the
struggle and thus, the court reasoned, it must ban II-SP.
Continuing to fight for its place on the ballot, II-SP asks for support inside
and outside Spain on a petition to defend “democracy and the presumption
of innocence.” Already Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Pérez
Esquivel of Argentina has written to Zapatero urging him to
“intervene” to “avoid anti-democratic actions” by the
courts against II-SP.
Inside the Spanish state, other federal parties on the ballot like the
Communist Party of the Peoples of Spain (PCPE) and the Anti-capitalist
Initiative (IA) have demanded that the ban on II-SP be lifted. The Basque Left
denied it was manipulating II-SP and expressed solidarity with II-SP’s
right to be on the ballot.
There are reports the IU is split on this question. So far the IU leadership
has said only that it will support the decision of the courts in this
Slanders from the rightist parties, the regime and the media against the
militants of II-SP may prevent the election of the II-SP candidates, but even
this hostile publicity has exposed many millions of people to this
party’s existence and potentially its program at the beginning of an
intense class struggle in the Spanish state.
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