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Mon Dec 21, 2015, 10:10 AM

Spain’s Election Shows How Much Trouble the Establishment Is In

from In THese Times:

Sunday night, Spain’s insurgent left party Podemos (“We can”) made history, breaking the country’s two-party control for the first time since the fall of the Franco dictatorship by winning 20.7 percent of the seats in the Spanish parliament. Though Podemos finished third behind Spain’s two establishment parties, Sunday’s results are a victory for an anti-austerity party that less than two years ago was only an idea in the minds of a handful of activists and academics. Podemos supporters and its leader Pablo Iglesias were energized by the outcome. In the plaza outside of Madrid’s Reina Sofia art museum, Iglesias was greeted by thousands of excited Podemos supporters, who waved balloons in the party’s signature purple shade and chanted “Si se puede!”

Podemos has re-shaped Spanish politics, and the election results solidify the party’s role as a real force in the country’s democracy, despite uncertainty about what the new government will look like (no party won enough seats for an absolute majority). Yet beyond its importance for progressives, Sunday’s election cemented 2015 as the year of the political outsider: Spain’s insurgent centrist party Ciudadanos (“Citizens”) won 13.9 percent, meaning that two new parties with leaders under the age of 40 now control over one third of Spain’s national assembly. The results represent a huge drop in support for Spain’s two establishment parties that have controlled the country for decades—the conservative Popular Party received a third less support than it had in the 2011 elections, and the Socialist Party experienced its worst election in the party’s history. It’s news that should make the political establishment from Europe to the United States tremble in fear.

The outraged

How did such a huge earthquake come to shake up Spanish politics? The backdrop to Sunday’s election and Podemos’ meteoric rise is Spain’s 15M, or Indignados (“Outraged”) movement that occupied city squares across Spain in May of 2011, four months before the Occupy Wall Street movement exploded in the U.S. In Spain, the protests targeted corruption of the political and the financial elite, with chants like “They don’t represent us!” and “Real democracy now!” Following the burst of its massive real estate bubble, Spain was hit particularly hard by the global financial crisis, with the highest unemployment rate in Europe and youth unemployment climbing above 50 percent. The depth of its crisis, combined with Spain’s smaller size, meant that 15M changed the fabric of the country’s politics in a much deeper way than Occupy Wall Street did in the United States. After a month of occupying Madrid’s Puerta del Sol, the country’s first and largest occupation, activists decided to leave the square and continue the fight through neighborhood assemblies, immigrants rights groups, public health defense, and anti-foreclosure activism like the Platform of People Affected by Mortgages (PAH). 15M also re-energized Spain’s many autonomous social centers; occupied or rented spaces that serve as organizing hubs and meeting places for many of the Indignados efforts.

Into this post-15M moment stepped Pablo Iglesias, the ponytailed 37-year-old political science professor at Madrid’s Complutense University. In 2011, Iglesias and his collaborators were working on their DIY political talk show La Tuerka (“The Screw”). The aim of the television program was to supply people with a new language to reclaim democracy, “political ammunition for public use,” as Iglesias calls it in his book Politics in a Time of Crisis: Podemos and the Future of Democracy in Europe. While Iglesias began his show before the Indignados burst onto the scene, the country’s new political consciousness translated into a new hunger for the programming he was creating. What started as an obscure program broadcast on TV and the internet soon acquired a huge following. Iglesias became a viral media sensation across Spain, often appearing as a guest on television talk shows where he crossed enemy lines to go head-to-head with conservative hosts and pundits. .................(more)


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Reply Spain’s Election Shows How Much Trouble the Establishment Is In (Original post)
marmar Dec 2015 OP
dixiegrrrrl Dec 2015 #1

Response to marmar (Original post)

Mon Dec 21, 2015, 12:05 PM

1. History tells us it is part of the cycle, when the 1% do too much damage.

I hope we can change things here, too.

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