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The International Writers Magazine: Spanish Politics In Turmoil

Podemos - Yes 'We Can' - Spain's Coming Revolution
• James Skinner
I was going to return to the illegal ‘consultation’ in Catalonia and its outcome, that was totally predictable, but will place it on the back burner. I'll start with what could be a turning point in the political arena of this country that has set some real alarm bells ringing throughout the country.
iglesias I refer to the unprecedented rise, mentioned in earlier essays of the new party called ‘Podemos’ (We Can) that according to the latest polls has now overtaken the ruling conservative party (PP) in intension of vote. Its charismatic president, Pablo Iglesias* has been elected by his supporters to take the lead and present himself as candidate for the Presidency in next year’s general elections. Even the ‘Economist’ has mentioned this rise in popularity in last week’s edition. Herewith a summary of what it would mean if this party were to gain enough power to be elected as the Government of Spain.

Spain would be led towards the Third Republic following the steps of what happened back in the 1930's imposing a totalitarian and communist regime that could isolate the country from Europe and the rest of the world. Apart from statements of leaving NATO and closing down the US military bases in Rota and Torrejón, Madrid it is their overall economic program that lays the ground work for the implementation of Marxist rules imposed throughout the whole country.

Their ‘star’ program is to introduce a universal basic salary for all citizens. This alone would cost 1450000M Euros of public funds. Their second aim would be to nationalize all public services that include telecommunications, transport and power followed by a reduction in pensionable age from 67 to 60 and the introduction of a 35 hour working week. Trade Unions would be given increased power to protect the country’s workers. VAT would be raised to 35% for all – unspecified - luxury goods and multinationals would have to declare all their worldwide assets. These are just a sample of the measures that they aim to introduce to win next year’s general elections. As a leading journalist Benito Iglesias pointed out, ‘we would be isolated from Europe and foreign investment would just shy away. We would become another banana republic.’ And I haven’t even touched on their European program now that they have parliamentary representation that includes the charismatic leader, Sr. Iglesias.

The reason for the rise is a general dissatisfaction with the way the country is being managed. Unemployment is still too high with no real signs of any improvement. Young brains are leaving in droves. Corruption continues to hit the headlines with new cases of politicians and trade unionists being summoned before the judge. My favorite judge in Andalucía, Mercedes Alaya is overburdened with hundreds of cases. The bi-partisan elite, conservatives (PP) and socialists (PSOE) are at each other’s throats, and there is a general discontent that prevails regardless of all the positive international financial reviews that show Spain as on the right track for economic recovery.

The Catalan showdown ended in a constitutional flop with the Government passing the whole affair to the Supreme Court whilst Sr. Artur Mas, the Catalan president considered the ‘consultation’ as a success. He has now embarked on an international recognition program (UN, EU) for a proper Scottish style referendum to be held in 2016. Meanwhile, the Basque Country and Galicia are, as I have reported so many times sharpening their own knives for independence. The possible breakup of Spain will now be in the news for months and any new developments will depend on how the rest of the country responds to its other problems.   

Regardless of the continuing struggle to reduce the poverty that has fallen upon a great sector of the public because of the initial crisis and is still light years away from what everyone hopes is a return to previous years stability, the present government has also failed to comply with many of its original election programs. Despite a massive rally in Madrid for ‘the preservation of life’ the abolishment of the previous government’s abortion law that was the most liberal in the democratic world has not only been dropped but has been completely forgotten. This alone has meant that the president, Sr. Mariano Rajoy has lost a great deal of his own party supporters. His failure to stop the Catalan move for independence and the recent dismissal due to possible corruption charges of his Health Minister, Ms. Ana Mato just add to the total disarray of the conservative party. Education is in a mess as reforms that were introduced to reduce fallout and low grades have caused massive demonstrations and continued strikes. The National Health service with its cutbacks to curb costs is also hurting the poorer end of the population.

We’re coming up to the Christmas season and a great deal of the low morale of the country will try to forget its woes until the New Year. Parliament, schools and universities will take a break, and hopefully a certain amount of joy will help ease the pain. Unless there is a major catastrophe Spaniards have been resilient in many ways and judging by many talk shows and street comments are hoping that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, sooner or later albeit with the new ‘Podemos’ party.

We’ll see. See you next month.             

*Another Pablo Iglesias, also following Marxist ideology, was the founding member of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) in May 1879.  

© James G. Skinner. December 2014.  
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