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Spanish state

For an internationalist break with the EU institutions

Thursday 2 August 2018, by Alex Merlo

Opinion polls indicate that Spanish citizens are among the most favourable to the European Union, and to a greater intervention on its part in national debates. The reasons for this situation are historic: in our country, European integration is identified with the end of the dictatorship and democratic normalisation. However, the economic crisis and the manner in which it has been managed from Brussels and Frankfurt has led to the beginning of a change of perception with respect to the EU.

Disaffection with the EU

The turning point goes back to 2010, when the Zapatero government applied the measures dictated from Brussels, modifying the Constitution in the middle of the summer to make payment of the debt the priority. The subsequent disenchantment was the starting point in a significant decline of the traditional parties. The bailout of the banks which was organised shortly afterwards, with millions of euros of public money being transferred to the financial system, raised awareness of the fact that the European Union was in reality a project designed by and for the élites alone.

Also, the racist management of the arrival of asylum seekers has made it apparent that the European Union was not the space of solidarity and open borders which many had believed it to be. Happily, we do not in the Spanish state have a far-right party which could develop an openly racists discourse at a mass scale. The majority are favourable to welcoming the refugees, and many towns have declared themselves refuge towns. The welcoming of asylum seekers has however been strongly limited because of the action of the successive national governments and the EU.

All these elements have led to a lowering of enthusiasm in favour of the European Union, even if this disaffection is limited by the fact that people perceive no viable alternative to it

The lessons of the Greek precedent

The brutal pressure exerted in 2014 by the Eurogroup and the ECB on the Syriza government has also shown to what extent democracy in the EU is limited by very narrow margins. But Syriza’s capitulation has made the task of the forces of change in the Spanish state difficult.

Podemos is regularly confronted with this argument: your programme is very appealing, but it is inapplicable inside the European Union. Our response is to explain that our strategy is very distinct from that of Syriza: first, it is indispensable to take unilateral measures of disobedience to the EU before even beginning any negotiation. Thus, it is only the basis of suspension of the payment of the foreign debt and a democratic control of capital that any negotiation with the European institutions can be considered. Also, we know that a break with the institutions and polices of the EU cannot be envisaged in a national perspective, but only in an internationalist and class-based perspective. Our objective is not take our independence in relation to the EU, but to put an end to the current EU and replace it with a solidarity-based union of the peoples of Europe. Our objective should not be independence in relation to the ECB and the Eurogroup, but the dismantling of these neoliberal institutions and their replacement by other structures which are democratic and socialist. To get there, it is necessary to lead the battle for change taking place at the European level, by building an alliance of peoples and movements breaking with the neoliberal institutions.

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