Spain: new elections same old austerity

Mariano Rajoy

On 26 June, Spain will hold its second general election in six months, after the failure of the various parties to establish a coalition government following December’s poll. Although all the parties say they want ‘change’, their rhetoric continues to bow before the economic line decided by European imperialist institutions. The turmoil created by constant cases of corruption, repression of social movements and distrust between parties has created general disaffection and the slow polarisation of society. This time round, left-wing organisations have reached a 50-point agreement and will form a joint candidature, which may well put them in second place in the new elections.

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Spain: political parties tussle over way forward 

On 20 December 2015 Spain’s general election resulted in an unprecedented situation where no party gained a clear majority. The conservatives of the Partido Popular (PP) got 28.72% of the votes while the social democrats of the Socialist Party (PSOE) received a 22.02% share. Some new parties entered the parliament, in particular the right-wing Ciudadanos, (13.93%) and the social-democrats of Podemos (12.67%). The various parties trade accusations on a daily basis and hold tense negotiations but the result remains uncertain. Meanwhile, Catalonian parties have reached a last-minute agreement to establish a regional government which will pursue independence. However its stability is still in doubt after several months of negotiations. Contradictions arise and a complex time lies ahead, making it difficult to predict whether austerity policies will continue or whether there is a chance for change. JUANJO RIVAS reports from Madrid.

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Spain: Countdown to general election

On 20 December 2015, Spain will hold a general election amidst the turbulence of calls for independence in Catalonia and the weakening of the two-party system. The elite feels uneasy at the emergence of voices demanding constitutional reform, to open the way for the people to exercise their right to decide over territorial, political and social issues. The unwillingness of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to change the status quo has resulted in a dual strategy: on the one hand attempting to persuade voters of the country’s alleged economic recovery and, on the other, using repressive force to imprison activists – allowing him, conveniently, to introduce the threat of ‘terrorism’ into his election campaign. Juanjo Rivas reports from Madrid.

September’s election in Catalonia created a divided regional parliament, in which the majority is formed by bourgeois nationalists (Junts pel Sí) and pro-independence anti-capitalists (CUP). On 9 November, the Catalonian Parliament approved the beginning of a political process towards independence by 72 votes to 63. The decision was supported by Artur Mas, the right-wing politician who has been president for the last five years and who is responsible for privatisations, austerity policies, social cuts and corruption in his own party. Unsurprisingly, the CUP has twice refused to vote him into office and talks are being held to find an alternative candidate for a stable regional government by 10 January 2016. If this deadline to establish a new Catalonian president is not met, new elections will have to be called – something none of the separatists want.

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Spain: Political manoeuvres ahead of general election

By 20 December at the latest, Spain will face a general election, following the municipal and regional elections in May which significantly changed the country’s political map. The right-wing government of Mariano Rajoy fears that the coalitions formed by new and old social democrats could challenge the political framework established, post-Franco in 1978 which has until now remained untouched. Conservatives and other establishment forces are rushing to approve laws to secure their interests and privileges while repressing protests, to ensure that any new cabinet has its hands tied, subject to EU imperialist demands. At the same time, polls ahead of the Catalonian election on 27 September show a slump in support for Rajoy’s conservatives, and the prospect of a unilateral declaration of independence has stirred the government’s propaganda machine. JUANJO RIVAS reports from Madrid.

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Spain: Resistance against austerity and repression

On 1 July, some of the most draconian restrictions on the right to protest in existence in Europe came into effect in Spain. The Civil Security Act, known as the Ley Mordaza, or ‘Gag Law’, criminalises protest of almost every kind and has been criticised by the United Nations as having ‘a chilling effect’ on the freedom of peaceful assembly. It is a symptom of the government’s fear of the growing opposition to its austerity measures and repressive policies. On the eve of the introduction of the law, thousands of people marched in protest in 20 Spanish cities. Juanjo Rivas reports from Madrid.

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