70 years ago the mining and industrial region of Asturias in Spain witnessed one of the most fascinating revolutions in the history of the 20th century. During the course of 15 days men and women fought to establish a new society free of exploitation and ruled by the principles of workers’ democracy. This was the beginning of the Asturian Commune.

On Monday, August 26 an extraordinary session of the Spanish Parliament was called with the aim of promoting the outlawing of Batasuna. This decision was taken with 295 votes in favour from the Popular Party, the Socialist Party [PSOE], Coalición Canaria and Partido Andalucista. There were 10 votes against from the Basque Nationalist Party [PNV], Catalan Republican Left [ERC], Eusko Alkartasuna [EA] and Iniciativa per Catalunya and 29 abstentions from United Left [IU], Galician Nationalist Block [BNG], the [Catalan bourgeois nationalist] CiU and Chunta Aragonesista.

Since 1994 and throughout the whole period of the right wing PP government in Spain, the leaders of the two main trade union confederations in Spain, CCOO and UGT, have carried out a policy of agreements and social partnership. In 1996 they agreed to a change in the pension system. The old system was based on taking the average wage for the last eight years worked. With the new system the calculations to work out a worker's pension are based on the last fifteen years [the further back you go the lower the wages and thus the level of pensions goes down]. In 1997 they agreed to a new kind of labour contract which reduced the amount paid in redundancy payment. These policies of the trade union leaders led to an unprecedented retreat on the part of the Spanish labour movement. This was reflected in the strike statistics with every year registering a record low level. In 1995 we saw the emergence of a left wing opposition ("Critical Sector") in the Workers Commissions' (CCOO) against this rightward move. This "Critical Sector" has the support of 30% of the union's members.

The high turn out rate of 70.7% in the election in Euskadi (Basque name for the Basque country), 11 points higher than the last regional elections of 1994, and only 0.8% less than the general election of 1996, reflects the enormous interest of the Basque population in finding a solution to their problems, starting with an end to the long nightmare of repression and terrorism with the change in the political situation since the ETA ceasefire.

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