Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/814/18747
Spain: European elections redefine political map
Below we publish a shortened translation of an article by Victor Egio (CWI member, local councillor in Santomera, Murcia, and member of Izquierda Unida, writing in a personal capacity) responding to the results of the European elections in Spain. Featuring a collapse of both the government party PP, and the former social democratic PSOE - which now hold less than 50% of the vote combined - the election's main success story was the eruption of Podemos, which came from nowhere to win 8% and five MEPs.
While the election results for the United Left (IU - which members of the CWI participate in) were a big improvement on its 2009 European election results, its vote (10%) was far from equal to its potential.
The European election results constituted a political earthquake in Spain. These elections have confirmed the warnings of Socialismo Revolucionario (SR - CWI in Spain) that the failure of a political response of the bureaucratic right-wing leaders of IU to the elections and to the crisis in Spain, can spell disaster for the movement.
Willy Meyer, head of the IU list for the European elections, drew up a glowing balance sheet of IU's results, which saw the formation win one million new votes and go from two to six MEPs.
However, the eruption of Podemos, a force which in less than four months has won 1.2 million votes and five MEPs, not only minimised the potential growth of IU in these elections, but has changed the whole political equilibrium, threatening an end to IU's position as the main left reference point in the Spanish state.
The mainstream analysis of Podemos focuses exclusively on the strength of its campaign, in 'selling a fresh product' and capitalising on the high media profile of its main spokesperson, Pablo Iglesias.
But this is over simplistic. Iglesias and Podemos were able to cause a political earthquake by presenting themselves as radically different to everything else, emphasising the need for the people to become protagonists in political change, beyond the dated institutional politics of the main parties.
However, to build a mass movement to change society, it is not sufficient to appear daily on TV or in social networks. This must be combined with an intervention which carries a clear message, explaining the nature of the capitalist crisis, its causes and the necessary way out.
The leadership of IU has failed in this. It is impossible to credibly attack the two-party system, but then to use one's position to save it, in the name of maintaining "governability" - as the IU leadership does governing with PSOE in Andalucía and propping up the PP in Extremadura.
In reality, a section of the IU leaders, are more interested in ministerial positions than in the struggle to end the capitalist regime. They have thus become a part of the 'political caste' which so many rage against.
In the same way, one cannot in words oppose the 'dictatorship of the markets and the EU-IMF-ECB Troika' while at the same time putting forward a programme which does not go beyond touching up this system. However, in this respect Podemos does not represent an improvement. Beyond ambiguous statements of opposition to the rule of capital and the markets, Iglesias' concrete proposals are to limit privatisations, promote public participation in private companies, and democratise the ECB.
In both IU and Podemos, a struggle is necessary for a programme which responds to the reality of the crisis which can only be dealt with on the basis of a movement to break with capitalism, with socialist policies - repudiation of the debt, nationalisation under democratic workers' control of the key sectors of the economy.
Following the 15 May "Indignados" movement in 2011 which led to a new wave of politicisation, IU had an opportunity to open the organisation up to the new mass of youth fighting against the system. However, within the IU leadership this was unfortunately subordinated to the fear of losing control of the situation. This failure to seize these opportunities opened up ground which Podemos has partially occupied.
SR renews its long standing call for a united front of the left (IU, Podemos, and left-nationalist forces) together with the workers' and social movements. We call on all those who voted for the alternative left to help to initiate united assemblies in neighbourhoods and workplaces. These assemblies should form the basis of the united front which the situation demands in order to unite our forces in struggle for a political alternative of the 99%.
In The Socialist 11 June 2014:
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