Spain swings leftwards

Socialist Worker 386

Spain swings leftwards

The two party system in Spain has suffered a massive blow as huge numbers of Spanish voters punished the mainstream parties at the ballot box.

For decades the Tory ‘Popular Party’ and the Blairite ‘Socialists’ have dominated the political scene. But now the ruling class face major political instability as none of the mainstream parties have a majority of seats.

These two parties may be forced into coalition with the leader of the Right, Mario Rajoy, stating that it must be a coalition of ‘like minded parties’.

The media and elite in Spain are demanding a coalition of the Popular Party, Socialists and Ciudadanos (the right wing ‘citizens’ movement.)

After the new parliament convenes on Jan. 13, King Felipe VI will consult party leaders and nominate the candidate he believes is best able to lead a stable government.

Rise of Podemos

The real success story of the election is the rise of the radical Podemos who got 21% of the vote and took 69 seats in the Parliament and yet is less than two years old.

This follows elections in Catalonia where parties defending Catalan independence won a majority in September, including ten MPs from the anti-capitalist CUP (Popular Unity Candidatures).

Years of austerity have led to growing anger which expressed itself in the Indignados movement, strikes and mass protests- where tens of thousands have protested.

When the popular movement went into a lull several left wing intellectuals like Pablo Iglesias launched Podemos and quickly captured the mood for change.

But Iglesias and the leading members of Podemos, while using rhetoric about popular democracy, actually began to construct means by which power in the party was focused at the top and not in the grassroots circles.

Dropped pledge

Podemos has begun to moderate its politics as the prospect of power approaches. It now speaks of only reforming the constitution, rather than far-reaching democratisation.

It has dropped its pledge for a minimum social wage for all and is no longer calling for Spain to leave Nato.

But the rank and file at massive pre-election rallies showed an expectation that their party would confront austerity.

The massive radical vote shows how much people want real change but that change can only come by mobilising on the streets and in the workplaces not by stitching up deals with the parties of the elite.

The challenge ahead for the anti-capitalist left in Spain is to work with Podemos members while pushing against a focus on the institutions as counter-posed to a strategy of people power.

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