June 2014        

Spain moves to the left

Bucking the rightward drift of France and other European countries, Spain has moved decisively to the left. In the recent EU and provincial elections both the social-democratic PSOE (Spanish Socialist Labour Party)—the main opposition party—and the ruling Partido Popular (People’s Party) took a trouncing. The secretary-general of the PSOE, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, assuming responsibility for his party’s debacle, resigned, and the party will elect a new leader in July.
      The Marxist left has been the beneficiary of the fall of the social democrats. Izquierda Unida (United Left), moving from two to six EU Parliament seats, is now Spain’s third-biggest electoral force. The four-month-old Podemos (We Can), another Marxist formation, cradled by anti-austerity demonstrations in Madrid and other Spanish cities involving millions of citizens, gained 1.24 million votes, jumping from nil to five EU Parliament seats.
      Thus the number of seats of the two left parties—eleven—exceeds that of either of Spain’s traditional parties of government. If the results of the EU and provincial elections are reproduced in the national elections here in two years’ time, the “bipartidism” that has marked Spanish politics since the death of Franco—i.e. the PP alternating with the PSOE—will be a dead duck.
      If the likely alliance between IU and Podemos is forged, the real possibility of the principled left having a decisive voice in deciding Spain’s future now emerges.
      In Catalunya the independista Esquerre Republicana (Republican Left) displaced the conservative nationalist ruling party, CiU, to become Catalunya’s leading political force. The Catalans will vote in a consulta (a referendum with non-binding results) in November to find out what they think about Catalunya’s future relation with Spain. While the PP and the PSOE trumpet the constitutional illegality of this consulta, it is supported by IU, which holds it to be a valid expression of the citizens’ democratic right of expression.
      The Spanish working class has now woken up politically. The meteoric rise of IU and Podemos in the recent elections are evidence of this wakening.

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