Spain: Elections 2011 – how can workers and youth have a voice?

For an alternative to the rotten capitalist consensus!

Amid deepening economic crisis and uncertainty, and against the background of mounting social struggles, reflected in the massive “indignados” movement (15-M), the Spanish PSOE “Socialist” government has called early elections, which will take place on 22 November. We publish below an article from Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) about these elections.

The capitalist economic crisis is profound and continues on a daily basis, with chaos in the international markets and endemic uncertainty about the future. The crisis is likely to deepen even further and we will be expected to pay the price. The fightback against this miserable situation began and is continuing with the 15-M movement. This fightback must now be stepped up. But how should workers, young people and the unemployed respond to the upcoming elections on 22 November?

It is clear to us that neither the PP or PSOE have the answers. They are different sides of the same capitalist coin. PSOE wants to create a worker friendly face but their actions as a pro-market austerity government will not be forgotten. The PP will continue with the same policies but in an even more vicious manner, including taking up nationalist, anti-immigration and racist rhetoric. Any new government is likely to encounter major problems immediately because they fundamentally have the same response to the crisis, the inevitable result of which will be to deepen the economic mess and lead to huge conflicts between the classes.

Austerity, the debt and unemployment will be major issues at this election. The experience of the crisis in Europe shows that austerity measures will not solve the debt crisis, or lead to jobs or growth in the economy. In our view, the only way to lastingly deal with these questions in a pro-worker way is on the basis of a programme to break with the dictatorship of the market, the root cause of the current disastrous position. Any progressive reforms won in the future will be won on the basis of mass struggle.

Rubacalba (PSOE) and Rajoy (PP)

For a really democratic choice in the elections

The current parliamentary democracy is designed to defend the interests of capitalism. At every turn there are blocks that make it hard for workers to use these “democratic” institutions in our interests. The recent change in the law to make it even harder for small parties to stand is further proof of this, as is the PSOE and PP proposal to “outlaw deficits” as a way on enshrining brutal neo-liberalism.

The “Acampadas” (protest camps in town squares) and assemblies reflected a desire for bodies of ordinary people making decisions on a day to day basis, not voting once every 4 years or so for somebody that you don’t trust anyway. That is the potential basis of what we need!

The 15-M is a new and young movement with untold possibilities. It needs to continue to build, especially linking up with workers’, trade union and other struggles taking place. How can the movement use the elections and put forward a real alternative to the two party system? While 15-M has proven that developments on the streets can be much more decisive than elections, we argue that the forum of the elections is one that must be used to inject the movement’s message into the public discourse.

Izquierda Unida (IU – United Left) have called for a “grand coalition” of the left in the elections. But unfortunately, IU’s most recent “coalition” experiences have been in continuing to prop up PSOE councils and going into coalition with so-called “green” elements, that will compromise with capitalism at every turn. While a coalition of anti-capitalist left forces is something we support, it cannot be formed on the basis of such policies. This is why IU are seen by many as part of the political establishment. Only on the basis of adopting a consistent programme for a break with capitalism and basing itself on struggles and movements like 15-M, can it develop towards what is necessary.

The CWI – SR’s international organisation has proved you can have people who are excellent representatives who will not sell out or fall into the capitalist parties’ games. Across the world we have councillors, 2 MPs in Ireland and even an MEP who, when elected take a workers’ wage, the same as the people they represent. They then use the positions in the parliaments and councils to build the movement outside to fight for every reform possible but use the position as a platform to expose and struggle to end capitalism. Such should be the approach of 15-M and Spanish workers and youth to the current electoral process.

Build an anti-capitalist united front for the elections

SR calls for an anti-capitalist united front to be formed for the elections. However, not as an end in itself but to unite political and social forces to build a movement capable of challenging capitalism. A common front around a common programme for the elections could develop organisationally in the future, and form the basis for a new mass political alternative, which would have to be fully democratic and allow for the full existence of different groups within it.

We support coming together of candidates under a fighting common banner from various backgrounds, traditions and movements including M15 activists, trade unionist, IU activists, and other existing anti-capitalist activists and organisations. Such candidates should also be accountable to workers and youth in struggle. Local and workplace assemblies should democratically discuss putting forward candidates to stand as part of a broad anti-capitalist front on an agreed programme.

What kind of programme is needed?

We would call for a united programme of an anti-capitalist united front to include the following demands:

  • No to privatisation and for the reversal of all austerity measures
  • No to any cuts! Stop housing evictions!
  • No to paying of the speculators’ debts!
  • No involvement in coalitions and pacts with capitalist parties.
  • End political corruption! Representatives should take only the average wage of the workers they represents and publish their accounts for the whole electorate to observe.
  • No to the electoral law and two party system! For a genuinely democratic and representative constituent assembly, under the control of democratic assemblies of working people!
  • For an alternative of democratic public ownership and control of the banks and key sectors of the economy, to capitalist crisis and austerity

Existing representatives and organisations should be judged on what they have done not on what they say they will do. But above all, these representatives should support the building of the movement on the ground around proposals such as those above.

Linked to this perspective, 15-M must be built as a mass democratic movement, with democratic representative structures in every community, workplace and education centre, with full control from below and the right of recall, linked up regionally and state-wide.

Don’t wait for elections, fight now in our workplaces and communities! We need to build from below for a general strike against austerity, as a beginning, to step up the struggle!

We must also fight for real democracy in the trade unions, to break the control of the sell-out leaders and transform the unions into real fighting instruments for our class.

Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) will also use these elections to promote the ideas of genuine socialist democracy and the fight for to a working people’s government and a genuinely socialist society, including the necessity of nationalising the banks and top companies under genuine workers’ control. .

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September 2011