Spain

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.

On September 19th, the right wing Popular Party government decided to abandon its unpopular plan for a reactionary reform of the abortion law. We publish here this article written in March by a member of Lucha de Clases (Class Struggle), the Spanish section of the IMT, explaining the motivations behind the proposal and outlining the reasons why Marxists opposed it.

Lucha de Clases (Class Struggle) is in favour of the Catalan people’s right to self-determination, a basic democratic right. Denying this right to the historic nations that make up Spain has always been a central policy of the regime set up in 1978, together with the re-establishment of the monarch who chosen by Franco and impunity for the crimes of Francoism.

Yesterday evening [Monday] hundreds of massive demonstrations and rallies took place in a semi-spontaneous manner across Spain to celebrate the abdication of King Juan Carlos and to call for a republic. The central slogan was the demand for a referendum for the people to decide whether they want a monarchy or a republic.

An impressive rally was held in Edinburgh on Monday only hours after King Juan Carlos announced his abdication thousands of miles away in Spain. The protest of upto 150 people was called to coincide with mass demonstrations in cities all across Spain and amongst Spanish communities abroad. Edinburgh has a very large community of young Spaniards and they now constitute one of the largest groups in the city. They have come in their thousands after being driven into economic exile by the failures of the capitalist economy in Spain to provide even a basic living and hope for the future.

The major student organizations and unions in Spain called a national university strike on the 26th and 27th of March. I joined the picket lines in the University of Alicante, in the Valencian region. The strike was called to fight the austerity policies of the current PP (right-wing) government that are destroying public education in Spain. Tuition fees have rocketed throughout the country, the number of scholarships has plummeted, classes are overcrowded, certain modules and even whole degrees are being scrapped…

Sunday March 22 was another milestone in the struggle against cuts and austerity in Spain. Hundreds of thousands, probably over a million marched in Madrid on Saturday 22, in the final stage of the Dignity Marches which have walked from all over the country to the capital over the last few weeks. Their demands "Bread, Jobs and Housing" cannot be contained within the limits of capitalism.