In the recent Spanish regional and municipal elections the anti-austerity party Podemos, as polls predicted, came third in terms of votes on 24th May. They hold the balance of power in several towns and cities.
There has been an upsurge in activity of the working class in the countries of southern Europe since the 2008 economic crash. In Spain this was manifested in mass demonstration, neighbourhood activity against evictions and the formation of a movement against the effects of finance capital and government corruption, known as the Indignant movement. Out of this Podemos (translation “we can”) came into being last January; it has emerged as an electoral force.
In Madrid and Barcelona anti-austerity candidates could be forming administrations. In Madrid the question is whether to work with the Socialist PSOE and at present talks are under way. However the leadership of the PSOE have said that they would not involve themselves in radicalism and will remain a social democratic party. Even so certain local socialist politicians have broken ranks with their leaders; such is the case in Granada where Podemos and the PSOE are working together on proposals for local administrations to break links with any Banks which are responsible for evicting citizens from their homes. In Barcelona, Catalan nationalists have expressed fears that the anti-austerity victory aims a blow at their independence plans.
Meanwhile the right-wing People’s Party PP, which lost votes and seats heavily in the elections has refused to criticise itself over these losses. It has stated that there is a communication problem between the party and the electorate; this is taken to imply criticism of the Spanish people. A letter allegedly from a Civil Guard police colonel has been exposed by the communist United Left IU which indicates intentions on the part of extreme right wingers to disregard a vote for any Podemos/Communist government and to take action against such a regime, even armed insurrection.
Difficult times are ahead for Spaniards and for working-class parties there. Podemos has to decide whether to be an anti-austerity protest vote, modify its radicalism or continue its resistance to the effects of neoliberalism by working and struggling alongside unions and community organisations. Round the country Podemos is talking of the need to avoid trade offs and calling for a discussions between parties and in government to be made public.