The Socialist 23 November 2011 |
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Ruling PSOE battered in Spanish general election
Poisoned chalice of dealing with the crisis handed to PP
As widely expected, last week's Spanish general election saw the right-wing Popular Party (PP) win an overall parliamentary majority, although its percentage share of the vote barely rose from 43.9% to 44.6%. The misnamed PSOE's (Spanish workers socialist party) vote fell by over 4,300,000 compared with the 2008 election - its worse defeat in post-Franco Spain. However, there was a rise in the vote of Izquierda Unida (United Left) to nearly 1.7 million votes and eleven seats, up from two seats in 2008 (its worst result).
The vast majority of voters used these elections to batter the Zapatero PSOE government and its disastrous policies of cuts and obedience to the markets. But the PP will not improve the economic or social situation facing the majority of people.
On the contrary, as Greece has shown, PP's more intense policy of cuts and austerity will worsen the crisis, the debt and the impoverishment of workers, the unemployed and youth.
The latest figures show five million people unemployed in Spain. September saw the biggest avalanche of job losses since the freefall in the economy following the collapse of Lehman Brothers bank and the bursting of the construction bubble in 2008.
These results do not represent a turn to the right in society, as the bosses' media tries to make out. Despite its new majority, the PP won only 550,000 new votes, with its rhetoric of "change" and its deep ambiguity regarding its inevitable programme of cuts and attacks on living standards.
In contrast, 700,000 new people voted for the IU, which stood on a programme substantially further to the left than in previous occasions, with a more consistent position against the policies and dictatorship of the markets.
This, alongside the 330,000 first-time voters for Amaiur, a new radical left Basque nationalist formation, is much more significant both numerically and politically, than the rise in the PP's vote.
The election results also reflect a weakening of the monolithic two-party system, with a strengthening of smaller parties and the entry of at least three new formations into the parliament.
Unfortunately, those strengthened also include the far-right UpyD, which represents a certain danger. A key task for the left now is to unmask this party as another formation of the rich and the markets, which offers no solutions to the problems we face.
The new IU seats are an important achievement. But the left MPs must build the social and workers' movements outside the parliament. They should also use their position to pressure the trade union leaders to break their criminal silence over the capitalist crisis and mobilise the power of the working class against cuts and neoliberal policies.
A general strike, built from below, must be the next step - the first step in the struggle to bring down the PP government and the dictatorship of the markets.
A new, mass, democratic left, with a revolutionary socialist programme of an alternative to cuts and the payment of the debt - of democratic public ownership of the banks and key sectors of the economy, and international struggle for a new society - could begin the fight for a new government of the working people.
Socialismo Revolucionario, CWI in Spain