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”).
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 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.
The central plazas of dozens of cities and towns across Spain bear an uncanny resemblance to Tahrir Square in Cairo. They have been taken over by thousands of demonstrators demanding a "new system". As of May 29, dozens of other central plazas in Spanish cities and towns look the same — taken over by thousands of ordinary people demanding “a new system”. The movement, known as "#spanishrevolution" after the Twitter hashtag used to spread news, pictures and footage of the revolt, began with an internet call for a May 15 protest to demand “Real Democracy Now!”.