Spain

Two consecutive Spanish elections have culminated in a deadlocked political situation in which no party has enough seats in parliament to form a majority government on its own. The enormous pressure that this has created has now exploded in an internal coup in the Socialist Party, PSOE, with an attempt to remove its leader, Pedro Sanchez. This could even lead to a split, a possibility that reveals the enormous political, economic, and social instability rooted in the acute crisis of Spanish capitalism.

On June 26 Spaniards were called to the polls in an atmosphere of polarisation and expectation. These elections came after months of political stalemate, where no party was able to form a government. The polls predicted that the radical left coalition Unidos Podemos (UP) would do well, coming second, and that the parties of the establishment would take a serious hit.

The June 26 election campaign in Spain is coming to an end. The coalition between Podemos and United Left seems poised to overtake the Socialist Party, and according to some opinion polls is closing the gap with the ruling right wing Popular Party, which remains in first place. What are the implications for the day after, and what is the program on which Unidos Podemos stands?

“I’d like Spain to get a stable government as soon as possible,” insisted president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, a few days ago. The reason why was explained by Eurogroup president Dijsselbloem: “Spain will have to present further adjustment.” European capital has already said that Spain’s budget is off-target and is demanding 10bn euro worth of additional cuts. However, forming the type of government the ruling class needs, is proving very difficult.

After the election results came out, one of the spokespersons of the incumbent right-wing party PP described Spain as “ungovernable”. This is an apt picture of the country at the moment.

On Wednesday, June 17, police arrested Alfonso Fernández “Alfon” who will spend 4 years in jail for his struggle and political ideas. Hundreds of people, youth and working class activists, came out to the San Borromeo parish church in the Madrid working class district of Vallecas to protest his arrest. He had been denied the right to hand himself over voluntarily. This is yet another person jailed in Spain for his political ideas.

Thousands came out to cheer the swearing in of new mayors in Spain on Saturday June 13, in scenes not seen since 1979 or perhaps 1931. The May 24 municipal and regional elections represented a serious setback for the ruling right wing PP. But the extent of their defeat was not clearly visualised until June 13, when mayors representing parties and alliances to the left of social democracy were sworn in, in 4 of the 5 largest cities in the country: Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza and Valencia. The fifth, Seville, was taken over by a PSOE mayor, with the support of Podemos-backed “Participa Sevilla”, and United Left (IU).

Sunday the 24th of May will go down as a landmark in Spanish history. Municipal and regional elections were held across Spain (except in Galicia, Andalusia, the Basque Country and Catalonia, where the vote was for municipal but not for regional governments). The right-wing PP (People’s Party) was unseated from most of their historical strongholds. However, the sharp turn to the left in Spanish society is best exemplified by the rise of Podemos and the electoral fronts that it led, which won in Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Coruña, Oviedo, Cádiz... In most big cities the Socialist Party (PSOE), only socialist in name, has been overtaken by Podemos and has now become a secondary

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Only a few days ahead of the local and regional elections, the ruling class have used all the dirty tricks in the book. Both Popular Unity lists for municipal elections and Podemos (standing in the regions) have been slandered with links to “drug dealing Venezuela” and accused of wanting to bring about “a Cuban-style dictatorship”. But, why so much panic?

On March 22 elections were held in the region of Andalusia, the most populated region in Spain and a key political arena. This is especially so because, firstly, these are the first elections in a year that will be marked by the ballot box: there will be municipal elections in May and general elections in December.

The PP government intends to approach the 2015 election by declaring, with great fanfare, that the crisis is over. It is true that GDP increased by 1.4% in 2014 and that net-employment increased by 417,500. This year GDP is expected to increase by more than 2%. Does this mark a fundamental change in the economic situation?

Since PODEMOS started registering members on its website in July 2014, over 300,000 have joined. Tens of thousands take part in the weekly meetings of over 1000 circles scattered all over the country. With just over a year of life, Podemos has gone from nothing to becoming, according to all opinion polls, the first party of the country, polling at 30% with about 6.5 million votes. One would have to go back to 1977, immediately after the fall of the dictatorship, to find a comparable political phenomenon in terms of enthusiasm, hopes and mass organisation.

Hundreds of thousands marched in Madrid on 31 January, in a demonstration called by Podemos to mark the beginning of their campaign to win the general election this year in Spain. The huge march came just after Syriza’s victory in Greece and reflected the deep anger of millions of working people against capitalist austerity, as well as the hope that it can be ended.

On Sunday, November 9, over 2.3 million Catalans mobilised to vote in a “consultation” over their future status in Spain defying Rajoy’s government which had twice banned the vote. The vote was on two questions, the first asking if Catalonia should have a state of its own and then, if so, whether such a state should be independent. Of those who voted, 80% or 1.8 million said they wanted Catalonia to be an independent state (Yes-Yes), 10% voted for what is interpreted as a federal solution (Yes-No), and 4.5% voted against statehood.

PODEMOS has become the focal point of Spanish politics. There is no party in the establishment that is not panicking about the dangers of ‘populism’. The last words of the one of the biggest bosses in Spain, the recently deceased president of Santander Bank, Emilio Botin, to a selective group of journalists days before he passed away, expressed his concern about the rise of PODEMOS.