Spanish politics at a crossroads

Submitted by Matthew on 6 January, 2016 - 11:05

Spanish elections (held on Sunday 20 December) marked a defeat for the ruling right wing party. The Partido Popular only took 123 seats out of 230, 63 fewer than four years ago.

The Spanish social-democratic party, the PSOE, won 90 seats, Podemos 69, and Ciudadanos, a rightwing anti-corruption party, 40.

We republish (from the website of the French Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste) an interview with Alex Merlo, parliamentary attaché for the Member of the European Parliament Miguel Urbán Crespo, members of Podemos, and of Anticapitalistas, the Spanish section of the Fourth International.


What are the consequences of these election results?

It is chaos. There is no way to form a government. It is a first in the history of the country.
Maybe a majority is possible with Ciudadanos, but it is not likely. This party has indicated that they will let the largest party rule, so they won’t vote against a government led by the PP. But that doesn’t make a majority.

The only solution is for the PSOE to enter government with the PP. That will tear the PSOE apart and if it allies with the PP in a grand coalition, it will explode. The PSOE can abstain, but that is not likely.

I think that we will move to have new elections in a few months. This is a period of great political instability.

How do you analyse these results?

There is a failure of the big parties, a breakdown due to corruption and very powerful social discontent.

There is a broad consensus in the country that says that the big parties are shite. A new generation, coming from the Indignados movement, is fighting for another solution and so they are getting results.

Ciudadanos got a much worse score than was predicted. At one point, they managed to position themselves as a force that was neither leftwing nor rightwing, but anti-corruption. But, during the campaign, they indicated that they would support the PP in forming a government. That meant that they appeared like a rightwing party supporting the ruling party, so they lost a lot of votes.

What about the Podemos campaign and its result?

The Podemos results were best in the regions where they turned to social movements, which was the orientation defended by Anticapitalistas.

In Catalonia, with the movement Barcelona en comú. In Galicia, with a platform made up of the Indignados movement, trade unionists, and activists from campaigns around housing, water and public services. In Valencia, the coalition was less radical, it was an alliance with a split from [Communist Party-led coalition] Izquierda Unida, with a platform that concentrated largely on fighting corruption.

In Catalonia and the Basque country, Podemos came first because it looked like the force in favour of self-determination. It made self-determination a condition of talks with the PSOE.

What are the effects of these elections on the radical left?

Next to Podemos, Izquierda Unida has collapsed electorally. It only took two seats. Even though Podemos is broadly thought of as more radical than IU, the IU programme is still more leftwing than that of Podemos. For instance, we know that many Podemos activists voted IU for this reason.
There was no Anticapitalistas MP elected because the primaries within Podemos once again took place in an undemocratic fashion, which completely sidelined the minority in Podemos.

Nevertheless, we are very politically close with the MPs elected in Catalonia. Not having any MPs makes it harder for us to be a political force with a presence in national debates.

Finally, Pablo Iglesias is calling on all other parties for a “historic compromise”, an electoral reform (for proportional representation, mainly) and territorial reform (for self-determination). With these proposals, he has abandoned the proposal for a Constituent Assembly for constitutional reform and a transition process. This is not a logic of rupture, but the situation is very interesting because everything is destabilised in the country.

It is clear now that, within Podemos, the populist tendency wishes to integrate itself into the system and that we are now heading for some major internal conflicts.

We will also see how the social situation changes because, for a year now, everything has been centred on electoral questions, but there is an accumulation of experiences, of local struggles which open the possibility for a new phase of mobilisations.

• Original interview here