It’s time for Spain’s indignados to grow up

Published on Left Foot Forward, by TOM GILL, MAY 16, 2013.

One of the great weaknesses of Spain’s indignados movement, which yesterday celebrated its second birthday, has been its failure to pursue a strategy that turns power in the streets into the real power needed to change the world.

In the November 2011 general elections, six months after Spaniards occupied town squares across the country, including famously Madrid’s Plaza del Sol, the forces of reaction were projected into government. 

The Socialists had been punished at the polls for imposing austerity on their core constituency – workers – even as the bankers, who were behind a property bubble that catastrophically burst, seemingly got off scott free.

But Spanish voters got something much worse. Even if Mariano Rajoy and his Popular Party did their best to mask their plans ahead of the vote, once in government they rapidly accelerated these same self-defeating policies, leading to today’s six million unemployed, collapsing public services, rising poverty and an authoritarian turn designed to crush opposition in the streets.

Prospects for the left:

The radical United Left, on the other hand, while increasing its share of the vote, with 1.7 million votes, still trailed third by a long way – despite standing on a platform that matched very closely the indignados’ objectives: that is, social justice, jobs, affordable housing, tough action against the bankers and fundamental reforms to the political system that would return power to ordinary people and their communities.

The good news today is that the United Left  is now at 16.6 per cent in the polls. That’s a gain for the communist-led formation of ten points since the general election. And, according to pollsters Metroscopia, it has closed much of the gap with the two main parties: the party led by Cayo Lara is now just under four points shy of the Socialists, and six points below the Popular Party.

Since they were booted from power, the Socialists’ fortunes have gone from bad to worse. To blame is not only its legacy in power, but  a weak leadership that fears the rage of the rabble and cannot resist offering a bipartisan hand to the most right-wing government Spain has seen since Franco.

The most right-wing administration since General Franco: … //

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Link: This week’s most read: Ukip’s ’18 per cent’, the clash over ScottMay 17, 2013.

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