SPAIN HALTED THE ADVANCE OF THE FAR RIGHT – The 23 July Parliamentary elections in Spain shattered all forecasts and poll results that had given the majority to the Popular Party (Conservatives) and VOX (far right) – Article from the Posadists Today, 13.8.2023.

On seeing their rights and gains threatened by a right-wing government, many in society – unions, women, popular sectors, LGTBI – became involved in these elections. They voted for progressive options.

The municipal elections of 28 May 2023, and some community elections, were a defeat for the present government (PSOE, Socialist Party of Pedro Sanchez) and for the left. Without managing an absolute majority anywhere, the Popular Party increased its votes in the big capitals such as Madrid, Valencia, as well as in Andalusia, Aragon, the Balearic Islands, Extremadura and La Rioja; the Ciudadanos (Party of Citizenship) lost one and a half million votes, most of them transferred to the Popular Party.

In the parliamentary elections of 23 July, the right attracted a sector of the population on ground of economic crisis, impoverishment, the difficulties of access to housing and attacks on the government for its accord with the Basque and Catalan Independence parties. The law “Only a yes is a yes” (1), promulgated at the request of the sectors of Podemos, became an element used by the right in its confrontation with the government. 

In the May Municipal and Regional elections, VOX had increased its votes. This had allowed the Popular Party (Conservatives) to govern in coalitions in many municipalities and autonomous communities[1]. The PSOE had lost 400,000 votes, including in many autonomous, communities, despite a win in Barcelona, ​​Tarragona and Lleida. In that defeat, the rise in the cost of living had played an important part, with surges in the cost of energy and food in particular, and the loss of purchasing power due to the stagnation of wages. The Living and Minimum Wage, an important subsidy during the pandemic, assisted only a very small sector. What had influenced a part of the left and the youth, preventing them from voting PSOE, were the huge military expenditures and Spain’s involvement in the war in Ukraine. Podemoshad suffered a major defeat due to its limited politics, its internal differences and the leadership which hampered participation from the bases. The emergence of SUMAR (2)[2] could not centralize the whole of the left because the debate did not lead to a discussion of program and policy for social transformation.

Faced with this situation, Pedro Sánchez decided to call early elections. He wanted to avoid a further deterioration of the government and contain the differences inside the Socialist Party.

In the run up to the 23 July legislative elections, the government did not change its policy; but the left and the popular sectors became much more focused on using their votes to hold back the advance of the right. The right suffered a severe setback, confounding all the polls that had given it the win.

In these legislative elections, the right-wing electoral campaign doubled down with the following promises to end all measures favouring women and human rights: Opposition to the Abortion Law, opposition to the Historical Memory Law[3], opposition to the laws on Euthanasia and Gender Violence[4].  The right-wing even projected to modify the Labour Reform in accord with the employers[5].

The PSOE resisted with nearly 32% of the vote. And SUMAR – a coalition of 15 left-wing parties in which Podemos participates – won 12% of the vote, opening the possibility of re-election for the progressive government (2027) with the independence parties.

Why did such a reversal take place? 

Following accords between VOX and the Popular Party, counselling centres for battered women were closed in the places where they govern. The flags of the LGTBI collective were removed. Cultural performances not in keeping with right-wing ideology were stopped. The milieu of culture reacted with a manifesto against these right-wing measures and in defence of the freedom of expression. The Sindicatos Majoritarios[6] advised against voting for options that reduce the social rights.

In this political and social atmosphere, sectors of the working classes, young people, women and a significant part of the labour movement understood the importance of the situation. They decided to go and vote for the most progressive options. The blow this dealt to the right-wing left the latter with not enough MPs to form a government. And so, the government remains with the PSOE, along with SUMAR and the independence parties.

The outcome of these legislatives does not define a way out of the problems in Spain. It is now necessary to open an ideological-programmatic debate on the left, to advance an alternative to the crisis of capitalism. So far, the policy applied has only served – and in a limited way – to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and the runaway inflation produced by military spending.

The theme of the war in Ukraine was absent from the electoral campaign. On this issue, all the parties agreed that this war jeopardizes the economy of the European Union.

The United States organized this proxy war to have the Ukrainian people bearing the direct consequences, and the European countries to help in financing it. This is going to mean great defeats for NATO.

The PSOE government connived with the Zelensky government and his army of Nazi militias and NATO mercenaries. We must stop this military escalation because it responds to the interests of imperialism. The latter seeks its hegemony over the process of the world by weakening Russia, advancing its own war plans.

This situation prejudices the economy and the standard of life for the European masses now made to face a big retreat. The rising mortgage interest rates imposed by the European Central Bank only make more people poorer and benefit the banks.

The left and the trade unions cannot hope to be strengthened by electoral processes. We need a profound debate about the debacle of the capitalist system and its consequences.  Although they are a dynamic force in the revolutionary process, the social movements cannot replace the struggle of the workers’ movement.

It is very important to have a position in front of the imperialist war. Its sole aim is to subjugate Russia, and the whole of Europe as well. One must repudiate Spain’s participation in NATO, and the military aid that Spain provides to Ukraine.

Many African countries are leading the world by example. They have few means but they still rise against colonialism and imperialism.  In the matter of the war in Ukraine, they do not line up behind the United States.

The Posadists – August 13, 2023


(1) The law “Only a yes is a yes” establishes in particular the obligation of explicit consent, a rare measure in Europe, intended to strengthen the fight against rape. Victims of sexual violence will no longer have to demonstrate that there was violence or that they had to resist or defend themselves.

(2) SUMAR – which means Gather – is a progressive and social left-wing coalition formed for the legislative elections of July 23, 2023. It is the largest electoral coalition in the history of Spain. It brings together national and regional parties energized by Yolanda Diaz of the Communist Party of Spain, herself second Vice-President of the Government and Minister of Labour and Social Economy as well.

Featured photo: Meeting of the left-wing coalition SUMAR in Madrid on July 16, 2023 – AFP

[1] An autonomous community in Spain is a sub-national level of political and administrative division created in 1978 with the declared aim of guaranteeing some autonomy to the nationalities and the regions. There are 17 such autonomous communities. They each have their own executive, legislative and judicial power.

[2] SUMAR was formed in 2022, but presented a Manifesto and its candidate Diaz in April 2023.

[3] The Historical Memory Law was enacted in 2007 by the Zapatero government. It formally condemns the repressions of the Franco regime. It granted certain rights to the victims and the descendants of the Civil war and of the dictatorship that followed it. 

[4] Euthanasia has been legal in Spain since 25 June 2021. The Constitutional Act on Integrated Protection Against Gender Violence was passed on 28 December 2004.

[5] On 8 February 2022, the government passed (with a very small majority) a Labour Law Reform strongly tilted in favour of the working class. 

[6] A ‘sindicato majoritario’ is the Trade Union officially declared to be the most representative in an area where several Trade Union organisations coexist.

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