Since its November 20 election triumph, the administration of Spanish Popular Party (PP) Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has launched such a blitzkrieg of neoliberal policies, less democratic rights, state centralism and conservative social values that at times it seems as if the country has gone back 40 years in four weeks. Rajoy’s is not just one more example of a new government breaking promises due to “shocking revelations” that its predecessors had left the cupboard bare. (That old ruse has already led to public sector salary cuts of up to €500 a month.)
Last year it was the indignado movement that filled Spain’s city squares with hundreds of thousands of protesters. On February 19, it was the union-led movement against the Popular Party (PP) government’s new labour law. On February 29, another mass protest flooded the squares: tens of thousands of students protesting against cuts to education in 25 cities and towns across Spain. They had paid no attention to the plea of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who on the eve of the protest asked Spaniards “to understand that things are not that easy”. Huge support
Fifty-seven Spanish cities and towns came to a stop on February 19. Up to 2 million people marched in protest against the new labour “reform” of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's Popular Party (PP) government. The marches brought together veterans of the struggle for union and worker rights under the Franco dictatorship, activists from the 1970s “transition to democracy” and today’s indignados. “Old” slogans (“If you don’t fight, you lose”) mixed with new (“They piss on us and say it’s raining”).
Will the Spanish economy benefit from Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy government’s anti-worker labour market reform? How tens of millions of people answer that question — and act on their answer — will determine the course of Spanish politics this year and beyond. The law was announced on February 10 and already in force as a royal decree before adoption by parliament. See also Spain's 'Work Choices Super' at a glance Spain: Millions march against labour law
How will Spain’s new labour "reform" — announced on February 10 by employment and social security minister Fátima Báñez and already in force as a royal decree before adoption by parliament—affect Spain’s workers and unemployed? First, imagine the essence of 30 years of Australian anti-worker and anti-union law — from Hawke’s Accord through Keating’s enterprise bargaining and Howard’s Workplace Relations Act to Work Choices and the Fair Work Act — but all rolled into one bill.
A vast icy pool of Siberian air, the coldest in 50 years, settled over all Europe in late January. At least 150 people without shelter were killed. Yet the suffering from this extreme cold snap will be nothing compared with that of the economic ice age now threatening to entomb Europe’s most vulnerable economies. Over the past fortnight southern Europe’s growth prospects have become increasingly wintry:
The November 20 Spanish election went as the polls had forecast: the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government was massacred, with its lowest vote in 34 years. The right-wing Popular Party got a 186-seat absolute majority in the 350-seat parliament and left and left-nationalist forces emerged stronger, led by the United Left (IU) and Amaiur, the Basque left-nationalist coalition.
The overwhelming success of the October 15 “United for Global Change” demonstrations (which took place in more than 1000 cities and towns in about 90 countries) is having powerful positive feedback on the indignados (15-M) movement in Spain.
At a Madrid media conference called by the 15-M movement to announce Spanish actions for the October 15 global day of occupations, the media showed little interest in the international solidarity plans of the world’s founding indignado movement. The journos wanted to talk about one thing: what would be 15-M’s attitude to the November 20 Spanish general elections? Abstention? Spoiling the ballot? A vote against the parties of “the political class”? A vote for parties closest to 15-M’s positions? And, if so, which parties?
In Spain the signs are unmistakable: a “hot autumn” of political and social conflict is brewing in the run-up to the November 20 general election. Polling night will reveal how much the growing social resistance, brought onto the streets since May largely by the 15-M movement of “indignants”, has shaken up the political scene. As things stand, the most likely result is a repeat of the wipe-out suffered by the governing Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) at the May elections for local council and regional governments (known as “autonomous communities”).
The euro will survive for now — but only because working people in Greece and other European countries face greater suffering. That’s the not-so-hidden agenda behind the new US$227 billion bailout of Greece organised by the most powerful countries of the European Union, mainly France and Germany. The rescue comes little more than a year after a $155 billion rescue that was supposed to stop the debt crisis. See also: United States: the nonsense battle over debt
Huge demonstrations of the anti-austerity M-15 movement in 97 Spanish cities and towns brought at least 250,000 people onto the streets on June 19. This vast and peaceful turnout marked a new phase in the rising struggle against the austerity policies of the country’s “parties of government” ― the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the People’s Party (PP) and the Catalan nationalist Convergence and Union (CiU) ― as well as against the recently adopted Euro stability pact.
Pity the stressful life of police ministers in Spain and its autonomous communities (states). For weeks, the central plazas of big cities and towns across Spain have been the site of the camps of the “outraged” (los indiganados) of the M-15 movement — so-called after the large May 15 national protests that sparked the movement. The movement, which opposes the savage austerity imposed on ordinary people to pay for the crisis and the undemocratic nature of the political system, is now spreading into the suburbs of the larger cities and out into smaller regional towns.
In a contribution to the magazine Viento Sur, Real Democracy Now! activist Nacho Álvarez looked at the challenges facing the Real Democracy Now! movement three weeks after May 15. Excerpts of the article are published below. * * * Collective reflection about what to do, how to channel people’s anger and how to structure a sustained and massive protest movement now grips the streets and squares of hundreds of Spanish cities.
In late April, the progressive Spanish daily Publico asked why there was so little resistance to the economic crisis, despite the country’s 5 million jobless and rising misery. The union and social movement leaders and left academics interviewed pointed to the numbing impact of mass unemployment, the casualisation of work, the bureaucratisation of organised labour, widespread scepticism that striking could achieve anything, and the economic cushion provided by Spain's extended families.
There's a huge anti-capitalist movement rocking Spain. If you're on Twitter the hashtag to follow is #spanishrevolution. We at Green Left Weekly have enthusiastically covered the events and the protesters known as “the indignants”. The movement has exploded into the streets; the central squares of cities and towns across the country have been taken over by a people crying out “the system is the problem”.