World in View: Spanish elections

From the July-August 2015 issue of News & Letters

The indignados (indignant or outraged ones)—named M-15 after they launched a massive protest movement against conditions of life and labor in Spain on May 15, 2011—have emerged victorious in important municipal elections in dozens of cities, large and small, including Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia.

The May 24 elections delivered a sharp rebuke to the ruling right-wing Partido Popular (PP) of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, and opened the possibility of challenging the two-party cabal—the PP and the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE)—that has ruled Spain for decades.

The movements that organized in dozens of cities for the municipal elections were diverse: anti-eviction activists, protesters against corrupt banking practices, those demanding universal healthcare, people against privatization, demonstrators for freedom of expression, etc. While much attention has focused on Podemos, a Left party that emerged in 2014 and competed in European parliamentary elections, the movements encompass other progressive electoral coalitions.

While some call this a movement of “civil society” and proudly affirm a “non-ideological position,” or pragmatism, as if that were not an ideology—what seems clear is that many in Spain are rejecting the bourgeois ideology of capitalist rule. They are searching for an emancipatory pathway forward. The municipal election campaign against the ruling party was only one small part of that search.

—Eugene Walker

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