Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/910/23221

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 July 2016

Spain: Disappointment for left in re-run general election

Mass mobilisation and struggle necessary for real change

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (centre) photo Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (centre) photo Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)   (Click to enlarge)

Viki Lara, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI, Spain)

The results of the 26 June re-run general elections in Spain were without doubt very disappointing for many activists, and for broad layers of workers and youth. All opinion polls pointed to the much-coveted 'sorpasso' - ie the alternative left overtaking the ex-social democratic PSOE as the main opposition to the right-wing PP (People's Party).

However, the results saw the Unidos Podemos left alliance (involving Podemos, United Left and others) lose over one million votes compared with the elections on 20 December 2015.

Despite this loss of votes, the alliance maintained its 71 seats in the parliament, and Unidos Podemos will have an important weight in opposition to the next government.

These results also consolidate the new political panorama following the last years of struggle, and the crisis of the two-party system. The PP and PSOE remain far from the dominant position they enjoyed before the crisis.

Many will have been puzzled by the growth of the vote for the PP, which won more than 600,000 extra votes compared with December 2015, despite a lower turnout.

The PP has been embroiled in corruption scandals. This includes the conversations of the interior minister, Fernández Díaz, with the anti-fraud office, openly seeking to damage Catalan nationalist politicians, and also the implication of many PP politicians in the Panama Papers tax avoidance scandal.

However, the PP's rise in votes can be explained by the polarised atmosphere in the election campaign, and the concentration of right-wing votes around the PP in response to the expectation that Unidos Podemos would make big gains.

For example, the right-wing populist Ciudadanos party lost over 400,000 voters, who surely will have 'returned home' (to the PP) for these elections. A certain perception of economic improvement - though weak with little impact on living standards - will also have partially benefitted the PP.

Though these elections were called in order to resolve the governability crisis produced by December's elections, these results reproduce a situation of relative paralysis.

The PP, with its 137 seats, is still far from an overall majority (176 seats). Even to be elected in a 'second round' of voting in parliament (where the incoming president needs only to get more votes for than against, not including abstentions), the formation of a government is not guaranteed.

However, although new elections cannot be completely ruled out, it is far more likely that some variant of a 'grand coalition' arrangement is put together. This will probably be a minority government of the PP propped up by the abstention, or votes in favour, of PSOE and Ciudadanos.

As Socialismo Revolucionario has previously commented, the most important feature in this emerging situation will be the instability and weakness of the next government, whatever its composition.

It means a government much more vulnerable to the pressure and demands of 'the street' and mobilisations of the working class, than was the last majority PP government.

No matter how 'reinforced' the establishment may feel after these elections, it is clear that they will not be able to resolve the current crises. New tensions will emerge and become big headaches for the new government - from the imposition of cuts to the national tensions intensified by these election results.

In Catalonia and the Basque country, where the left alliance won the elections, the idea that 'Spain' cannot be reformed will be strengthened, boosting the pro-independence movements.

New struggles

After 2011 a new period of very significant struggle opened up in Spain - the Indignados' '15M movement', indefinite strikes in many workplaces, various general strikes, the massive 'marches for dignity', etc.

However, for more than two years there has been a lull in these struggles, coinciding with an electoral cycle, beginning with the European elections in 2014 and growth of the anti-austerity party Podemos.

Now, a new weaker government opens the possibility not only of earlier elections if the PP is not allowed to complete its term, but also of a return to mobilisation in the streets against the new austerity policies which the government seeks to impose.

A mass campaign of mobilisation and struggle would still have been necessary, even if the left had won, in order to resist the pressure of the EU and the capitalist establishment, which would try to force austerity and stop any attempts to implement pro-worker policies.

There has been much speculation about the reasons for the fall in support for Unidos Podemos. Some have questioned the usefulness of the alliance, others the lack of clarity in the campaign's discourse and programme. For others still the question of who the electorate 'blamed' for the repeat elections (among sections of the less politicised population some will have blamed Podemos), and also the campaign of fear launched against the left.

Electoralism

All of these factors will have played some role. However, Socialismo Revolucionario understands that the most important factor explaining the results of the elections is the near absence of struggle and mobilisations in recent years.

This is linked to the policy of the leadership of Podemos and the left - which prioritises institutional and electoral politics, linked to a political vision which sees change taking place through the governing institutions.

The reality of government, for example in the so-called "cities of change" (major cities such as Barcelona and Madrid where the left heads the local government) has shown the limits of such an approach. In Madrid, for example, the left lost over 100,000 votes compared with December's elections. Instead of reformism there is a need for a political approach which challenges the limits of capitalism.

Another problem of the Unidos Podemos coalition is that it was essentially formed as a pact between the leading circles of Podemos and United Left, instead of a united front democratically built from below, involving the rank and file.

The role of such rank and file structures is key in giving an impulse to activity and campaigning, and building the necessary struggles in the coming months. As is discussing and clarifying, democratically, the programme necessary to solve the country's fundamental problems of poverty, inequality, mass unemployment, housing evictions, cuts and rising university tuition fees.

These themes were practically absent from the media-based campaign of Unidos Podemos, which was centred much more on how a new government would be formed and in the exchange of accusations between the different parties.

Building for a future election victory which brings a working class party to power in the Spanish state in order to really change things and improve living standards, needs to be based on the following pillars: more organisation from below to build a really democratic movement of those we aim to represent, a clear programme of rupture with capitalism and austerity, and mass mobilisations to defend our rights and reverse the attacks of the past. This means linking immediate reforms to the need for revolutionary socialist policies.

This must begin with a process of debate, in social movements, the trade unions and in the ranks of Unidos Podemos and the parties which make it up. The lack of a serious analysis and debate could bring people to the false conclusion that there is nothing that can be done.

Though the levels of disappointment are great due to the high expectations everyone on the left entertained, we cannot forget that more than five million people voted consciously for real progressive change. This is a significant base of accumulated support built up through the struggles of the last years, and the potential is still far greater.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 13 July 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Child poverty rises by 200,000 in a year

Welsh Assembly to scrap 'right to buy'

Nine-month prison sentence for fleeing ethnic cleansing

HSBC jailbreak

Rail fail

What we saw: Angela Eagle Facebook meme

Them & Us


Fighting racism

Fight racism: for jobs, homes and services for all

Police racism still lethal in Britain

Majority support migrants staying - fight hate crime


What we think

Step up the campaign to back Corbyn's fight

Tory coronation is attempt at stability that can't work


Chilcot report

Chilcot Iraq report: More piles of evidence against the blood-soaked war for oil


Socialist Party workplace news

Angry prison officers walk out over reforms

New threat to impose junior doctors contract must be met with strike action

Vote Chas Berry for Napo national chair

Unite policy conference 2016: Blairite coup, Trident and cuts dominate opening days

Workplace news in brief


International socialist news and analysis

Spain: Disappointment for left in re-run general election

CWI in brief


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Thousands mobilising to #KeepCorbyn

Why I joined: "I no longer felt isolated from politics"

Fight back is on to save NHS heart services

Sales of the Socialist through the roof since the referendum


 

Home   |   The Socialist 13 July 2016   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook






Related links:

Spain:

triangleMemorial to working-class fighters who fought fascism

triangleLibres y Combativas: striking for women's rights in the Spanish state

triangleSpain: Student general strike against sexist, capitalist 'justice' system

triangleCWI news in brief

triangleSpain: 'We don't want to be brave, we want to be free!'

General election:

triangleMay's government facing endgame

triangleWeak Tories must go. General election now!

triangleNo retreats: Corbyn must stand firm against Blairites

triangleEight Blairites split - Now kick out the rest

Election:

triangleSocialist Party's Sue Atkins wins big support for anti-cuts, socialist policies

trianglePCS union elections: Huge support for Chris Baugh

triangleBlairite traitor Ian Austin - byelection now!

Elections:

triangleTorbay & South Devon Socialist Party: The May 2019 local elections

trianglePCS Left Unity must unite on pay and elections

Government:

triangleThe way out of the Brexit impasse

Podemos:

triangleSpanish state: social polarisation and budget defeat force snap election

Austerity:

triangleTrade unionists debate the EU

Right-wing:

triangleVenezuela: resist the pro-imperialist coup!

CWI:

triangleInternational Women's Day 2019: End oppression with fight for socialism

Catalonia:

triangleFor a Catalan republic of workers and the people

International

International

13/3/19

Brazil

Brazil: The Threats, attacks and contradictions of Bolsonaro's regime

13/3/19

Women

Spanish state: Historic 8 March action

6/3/19

Tamil Solidarity

Hundreds of Tamils protest against death-threat brigadier

6/3/19

Women

International Women's Day 2019: End oppression with fight for socialism

27/2/19

US

US: "Launch a mass, working-class fightback"

20/2/19

Spanish state

Spanish State: Early election announced

20/2/19

Spanish state

Spanish state: social polarisation and budget defeat force snap election

15/2/19

Catalonia

For a Catalan republic of workers and the people

13/2/19

France

France: striking workers confront Macron

6/2/19

Sweden

Sweden: dock strikes test new government

6/2/19

France

France gilets jaunes' backed by mass strike action

6/2/19

United States

United States: LA teachers' strike defeats privatisers

6/2/19

United States

United States: strike ends federal shutdown

30/1/19

Venezuela

Venezuela: resist the pro-imperialist coup!

30/1/19

Germany

Germany: School student walkouts reject Coal Commission proposals

triangleMore International articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


March 2019

February 2019

January 2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999