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Spanish state

Political labyrinth in Spanish state

Wednesday 15 November 2023, by Manuel Garí

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The parliamentary elections on 23 July led to an institutional deadlock between Spain’s nationalist right-wing bloc and the self-proclaimed "progressive" bloc.

The reactionary Popular Party (PP) won an absolute majority in the Senate and more votes in Congress, but not enough to form a government. Its leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo failed to form a government, despite the support of the ultra-right post-Franco Vox party.

An unstable balance of power

On 28 May, the PP won a major advance in the municipal elections and in some of the regional autonomous communities at the expense of the Socialist Party (PSOE), leading to the formation of an alliance between the right-wing party and Vox. The fear of a nationwide repeat partly mobilized the left-wing vote in favour of the PSOE.

The “progressive bloc” political organizations that had emerged after the 15-M (Indignant movement), such as Podemos, lost ground electorally. Their lack of political relevance and the failure of their choice to govern at all costs despite the hegemony of the PSOE led to the subordination of Izquierda Unida (IU) and Podemos to Sánchez, and a crisis for both organizations. The new grouping, Sumar, led by Yolanda Díaz, will not stop the crisis but will make it worse, because its opportunistic companionship with the Socialist Party is not leading to a “resurrection” of space on the left.

We return to the bipartisan formula that has governed the Spanish political system since the start of the post-Franco transition and after the social and constitutional pacts of 1978. The elections took place in a context of profound demobilization of the mass movement, particularly the trade union movement, and the “satellization” of many organizations around the Sánchez government.

In a context of inflation and loss of purchasing power for the working class and record profits for the banks and the big energy and textile companies, the reformist left is not organizing social resistance and the anti-capitalist left is too weak to do so. The effects of the failure and repression of the Catalan nationalist democratic movement are still being felt. All of this has increased social unrest, but the PSOE left has abandoned the streets and protest is increasingly channelled by the populist, neo-liberal and reactionary options of the right and ultra-right, with a neo-Franco anti-democratic discourse.

Uncertainty and confrontation

Sánchez presided over the coalition government with a neoliberal policy and abandoned important electoral promises in the face of social and repressive laws on housing, labour and trade union rights, and in defence of public health and education.

For a new mandate, Sánchez is now trying to win enough votes from the other parties: small left-wing parties, Basque, Galician and Catalan nationalists and independence fighters, bourgeois and petty-bourgeois parties such as the Basque Nationalist Party, Junts and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya. The difference in votes between the two blocs is very small. At the heart of this investiture pact is an amnesty for all those repressed in connection with the mobilizations and proclamations in Catalonia. This is an issue that needs to be resolved for elementary democratic reasons.

This point is unacceptable to the Spanish right, which has launched a general mobilization with the collaboration of the judicial system inherited from Francoism and the sympathy of large sectors of the army, the police and the media. The agreement is being debated with the issue of support for forming a government at stake. There were street clashes between the far right and fascists in front of the Socialist Party headquarters, as well as calls from the leader of Vox, Santiago Abascal, for the police to disobey and not act against the demonstrators. For its part, the PP called for a mobilisation on 12 November in all the provincial capitals. The right in the streets, the left calling for order and peace among citizens: the worst-case scenario.

Once again, in the Spanish labyrinth, class contradictions and positions and identities on the national question are intertwined. If the PSOE were to obtain the necessary votes in Parliament, this would not amount to a "return to tranquillity", as it would open up a highly conflictive and unstable legislature.

16 November 2023

Translated by International Viewpoint from l’Anticapitaliste.


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