Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/728/14937
Spain's austerity government is facing revolt from below
Workers' organisations must build for a 48-hour general strike
Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary, Socialist Party
Like the wildfires that are ripping across the mountains of Catalonia, 'Spanic' is spreading around the world's financial markets. It was triggered by the Spanish region of Valencia asking for financial help from Spain's central government; with the likelihood of other regions following suit - including the autonomous region of Catalonia, which has an economy the size of Portugal.
As the inevitability of Spain following the 'Greek road' looms large in the minds of the markets, Spain's ten year bond yields (the interest charged on government borrowing) have reached an all-time high and stock markets have fallen worldwide.
The size of the bailout Spain would need would be enormous, probably more than €300 billion, and would be difficult for the capitalist powers to finance, including German capitalism which would be expected to pay the lion's share.
The fear that Spain will crash out of the euro - either this time or with its likely future bailouts - bringing the whole edifice down with it, is reflected in the recent downgrading by Moody's ratings agency of Germany, Luxemburg and the Netherlands from 'stable' to 'negative'.
There is no way out of this crisis for world capitalism, reducing its strategists and governments to flaying around trying to find the latest 'quick fix' to prevent catastrophe. On one thing, however, they are clear. It is working and middle class people who will have to absorb endless pain to pay for the crisis, while the elite remain rolling in cash.
In Greece, where the population has suffered a catastrophic fall in living standards, with 91% of the population worse off by an average of one-third over the last two years, the 'troika' (the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank) is now likely to demand another €2 billion in cuts, forcing Greece out of the eurozone if the government does not accept this appalling price for continued membership.
The Greek population has been in revolt for two years, with over 15 general strikes. If the government tries to implement more cuts it will fall, posing the coming to power of the Coalition of the Radical Left - Syriza.
And Spain is following Greece, not only economically, but with the scale of its revolt. There is an outright refusal to accept the Greek levels of misery that the eurozone and the right-wing government of prime minister Mariano Rajoy are trying to force down their throats.
As €65 billion of cuts were announced in the Spanish parliament (the biggest cuts since the fall of the Franco dictatorship), workers, young people, and the unemployed followed the road taken days earlier by the Spanish miners (see below) and took to the streets.
"Hands up, this is a robbery!" yelled the protesters as a massive demonstration, estimated at 800,000 strong, wound its way through the streets of Madrid. Placards read: "There isn't a shortage of money - there are too many thieves," and "we will march until you resign".
This was one of more than 80 trade union-called demonstrations that took place across Spain on 19 July, mobilising millions. In addition there was a 'long march' by hundreds of the unemployed that reached Madrid on the day of the demonstration, along with countless other protests.
The revolt is spreading across many sections of Spanish society, with even the judges threatening to take strike action. Delegations of the police took part in the demonstrations, protesting against falling wages. Other groups of on-duty police removed their helmets and lowered their riot shields in solidarity with the protesters.
At the same time, terrified by the anger against all the capitalist parties, the buildings of parliament, the government party - the PP - and the opposition - PSOE - were all surrounded by armed police, who fired rubber bullets at demonstrators.
But repression will not prevent the revolt that is developing in Spain. The demonstrations on 19 July showed that a 48-hour general strike would receive massive support, as the next stage of the battle to bring down the Rajoy government.
At the same time an alternative is needed to the pro-austerity capitalist parties. It is necessary to make preparations for a 48-hour general strike as part of a broad-based struggle to bring down the PP government. The current pro-austerity regime should be replaced by a government of workers and poor, which should introduce the following demands:
- No to the payment of the debt! Nationalise the banks under democratic working class control and implement capital controls to prevent a flight of capital. Introduce a state monopoly of foreign trade
- For a massive emergency programme of public investment to create jobs and massively expand public services
- Nationalise the commanding heights of the economy under democratic workers' control and management, to begin socialist planning of the economy
- For an international alternative starting from an international struggle! For a one-day general strike of the "bailed out" countries as a step towards a European-wide general strike!
- No to the capitalist euro and EU! Fight for an alternative European confederation of free and democratic socialist republics!
In The Socialist 25 July 2012:
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