Spain: Massive defeat for ruling PSOE in elections

Overall PP majority, but left forces gain and new struggles on horizon

Below we publish an immediate initial declaration by Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) responding to the results of Sunday’s general election, which saw the right-wing Popular Party (PP) win an overall parliamentary majority, although its percentage barely rose from 43.9% to 44.6%. The vote for PSOE (the defeated ruling party still inappropriately called the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) fell by over 4,300,000 compared with the last election. There was a rise in the vote of Izquierda Unida (United Left) to nearly 1.7 million votes and 11 seats – up from 2 seats in 2008. See our previous article for further background. More detailed analysis will follow.

The results of the election are not very surprising to us, or most people. The vast majority of voters used these elections to batter the Zapatero government and its disastrous policies of cuts and obedience to the markets. These results for PSOE and its candidate Rubalcaba – the worst results in the history of this party (which long ago was converted into a 100% capitalist force) – are well deserved. But the new scenario of an overall majority for the PP will not improve the economic or social situation facing the majority of people. On the contrary, as Greece has shown, a more intense policy of cuts and austerity will worsen the crisis, the debt and the impoverishment of workers, the unemployed and youth. The policies of the new government will reflect the orders and interests of the capitalist markets, one thousand times more than those of the people who voted it in. Rajoy, the new Prime Minister, has even spoken of appointing an unelected technocrat as Minister for Finance! The reasons to struggle in defence of our rights and interests against the system are already more than sufficient. They will grow further under this new regime!

Marino Rajoy at a victory rally

However, these results do not represent a turn to the right in society, as the bosses’ media tries to make out. Despite its new majority, the PP won only 550,000 new votes, with its rhetoric of “change” and with a deep ambiguity regarding its inevitable programme of cuts and attacks. In contrast, 700,000 new people voted for the IU (United Left), which stood on a programme substantially further to the left than on previous occasions, with a more consistent position against the policies and dictatorship of the markets. This, alongside the 330,000 first-time voters for Amaiur, a new radical left Basque nationalist formation, is much more significant both numerically and politically, than the rise in the PP’s vote.

Amaiur has effected nothing less than an electoral earthquake of historic proportions. The “abertzale” left (associated with Basque separatist struggle), has for the first time in history, surpassed the traditional nationalist party of Basque capitalism, the PNV, in terms of seats won. Amaiur got seven compared with five for the PNV, sending the leadership of the PNV into a deep crisis. It also won, for the first time, two seats in the province of Navarra which is outside of its traditional support base. Incredibly, the PP is only the fourth biggest party in the Basque Country in these elections. It is highly possible that if elections were held for the government of the Basque autonomous region now, Amaiur would win a majority, possibly enough to form a government. This would be a nightmare for the PP and Spanish capitalism, which fears the development of a struggle for the right to self-determination.

These results also reflect a weakening of the monolithic two-party system, with a strengthening of smaller parties and the entry of at least three new formations into the parliament. Unfortunately, those strengthened also include the ‘Union Progress and Democracy’ party (UpyD). It won 1,140,000 votes and is supported by various fascistic and Falangist groups. It represents a certain danger, using social discontent to win support for populist rhetoric with far-right elements. It emphasises Spanish nationalism, with propaganda against the historic nationalities (Basque, Catalan, Galician etc). A key task for the left now is to de-mask this party as another organisation of the rich and the markets, which offers no solutions to the problems we face.

The eleven new IU seats are an important achievement. But the question is now, how will the IU use them? In the coming period, politics will not only be practiced in parliament, but also in the streets and workplaces, where the working class and youth are the crushing majority (the 99%)! The left’s MPs must be instruments for the social and workers’ movements outside the parliament. They should also use their position to pressure the trade union leaders to break their criminal silence and mobilise the power of the working class against the cuts and neo-liberal policies. They should aid the building of a democratic mass movement both within and outside the unions. The next step must be to demand of the leaders of the trade union leaders that they organise a general strike and for it to be built from below. This would be an important first step in the struggle to bring down the PP government and end the dictatorship of the markets!

An IU election card. The main slogan reads "In this crisis the rich don’t cry"

Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain) stands for the re-foundation of the left from below. It is for the coming together of IU activists and supporters with the tens of thousands of workers’ and community fighters, along with other left organisations like the “Anticapitalistas”. (The latter’s policy of standing separately from the IU brought it very low results – under 25,000 votes.) A new, mass, democratic left is needed with a revolutionary socialist programme of an alternative to cuts and the payment of the debt, of democratic public ownership of the banks and key sectors of the economy, and an international struggle for a new society. This could begin the struggle for a new government – not of the PP or PSOE, but of the working people and the social majority.

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November 2011