Regional Elections: Spanish Right Triumphs, Podemos Crumbles

On Sunday, voters went to the polls to elect members of 8,131 municipal councils and 17 regional legislative assemblies in Spain. These elections were widely seen as a prelude to elections to be held in December. On Monday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced to everyone’s surprise the holding of early legislative elections on July 23.

The right-wing People’s Party (PP) won the elections as the far-right Vox party enjoys growing support, while the Spanish government parties, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) and the pseudo-de left Podemos, suffered a major defeat.

The PSOE lost 500,000 votes compared to the previous elections, dropping from 6.7 million to 6.2 million votes, while the PP fell from 5.1 million to 6.9 million votes. The PP, alone or in alliance with Vox, won every major city in Spain except Barcelona. He won Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Valladolid, Palma de Mallorca, Zaragoza, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva and Jaén.

This is a humiliating rebuff for the PSOE-Podemos government, which has championed ultra-right policies during its three years in power. He championed NATO’s war against Russia in Ukraine, cut pensions and salaries, made a profit before lives policy in the COVID-19 pandemic and massively increased the military budget and bailouts of major banks and corporations. He also savagely attacked truck drivers and striking metalworkers. The result was a collapse in his support.

The most striking feature of the elections is the complete disintegration of the vote for Podemos and its various regional allies and splits. Podemos has lost all of its advisers in Madrid, Valencia, Zaragoza, Tenerife, Burgos, Valladolid, Vigo and La Coruña. In Barcelona, Mayor Ada Colau, backed by Podemos, lost her post after eight years.

Elections in high-powered Spanish regions that control spending on key public services like education, housing and health care paint a similar picture. Of the ten PSOE-led regions that voted on Sunday, only Asturias and Castilla-La Mancha were retained. The PP and Vox won in the regions of Valencia, Aragon, Balearic Islands, Cantabria and La Rioja.

Regionally, Podemos lost 10 regional deputies in the Madrid region, and eight in the Valencian parliament, the two most important at stake. Más Madrid, a split from Podemos with a strong presence in Madrid, also fell apart. He lost seven councilors in the city of Madrid, falling to twelve. In the Madrid region, although he won four regional seats, benefiting from the losses of Podemos, his vote nevertheless fell by around 100,000 votes.

Adelante Andalucía, a group led by the Pabloite Anticapitalistas de Podemos faction, lost the mayoralty of Cádiz to the PP. Adelante Andalucía has gone from 13 to 6 councilors and finds itself without representation in all the other important cities of Andalusia. The Pabloites played a treacherous role in suppressing the Cadiz metalworkers’ strike in November 2021.

The Election Campaign

The election campaign was a degrading spectacle, an expression of the incessant rightward movement of European bourgeois politics. The PP and the far-right Vox party mostly absorbed the vote of the right-wing liberal Ciudadanos (Citizens) party. In 2019, Ciudadanos had obtained 1.9 million votes, Sunday, barely 300,000. Podemos and its various splinters have avoided any discussion of war and social inequality, focusing their campaign on identity politics and issues promoted by the far right.

The first of the two-week campaign was dominated by attacks by the defunct Basque armed group ETA, which ceased to exist 12 years ago. However, EH Bildu, a Basque separatist party, presented candidates who had belonged to this petty bourgeois group. ETA’s terrorist attacks – and even its existence – have been used for decades as an opportunity to suppress democratic rights.

The PP and Vox called for outlawing EH Bildu and the PSOE and Podemos participated in this right-wing charade. The head of government, Pedro Sánchez, described EH Bildu’s move as “legal, but indecent”. Podemos deputy for Biscay, Roberto Uriarte, demanded that those convicted of “blood crimes” be removed.

The second week was dominated by the “squat problem”. Squatters were denounced to cover up the real problem of housing affordability and the lack of rental housing. High rents, coupled with low wages and job insecurity, prevent many young people from leaving their parents’ homes.

The political periphery of Podemos participated in this debate, calling for police action against the squatters. Rita Maestre, candidate for mayor of Madrid for the split of Podemos Más Madrid, said in an interview with the right-wing daily El Mundo that “squatting is illegal and creates problems for social harmony”. Maestre sadly called it “pleasure and pride” that Madrid hosted the NATO summit last year, where major imperialist powers plotted war against Russia and China.

In Barcelona, Mayor Ada Colau, backed by Podemos, has endorsed the police crackdown after a video emerged showing the city’s riot police beating up two extracurricular activity educators. Colau, once dubbed the “change mayor,” is known for slashing spending, attacking striking public transport workers and persecuting migrants.

Last year, she met in Ukraine with the far-right mayor of Kiev Vitali Klichkó, promised him money for aid and fire trucks, while denouncing the “crimes against humanity” of Cheese fries. She exclaimed: “Ukraine is Europe”.

Throughout the campaign, Podemos and its new spinoff, Sumar, have redoubled their efforts in identity politics. Yolanda Díaz, deputy prime minister and legislative candidate, welcomed a prime-time election debate that only women attended. “Men are bred to wage war. They are very warlike,” she said, adding that straight men are boring.

Díaz is part of a government that is training and arming Ukrainian soldiers to fight Russia on behalf of NATO, while doubling the presence of Spanish troops in Eastern Europe.

On COVID-19, Podemos has centered its criticism of Madrid region’s right-wing Prime Minister Isabel Ayuso on corruption rather than the politics of profits before lives that has killed more than 11,000 elderly people in the region. . They were left to die in the cruellest way imaginable in nursing homes. Podemos has been silent about it, having implemented the same policy nationally, costing 160,000 lives and millions of infections.

Regional elections were widely seen as setting the stage for parliamentary elections. The survival of the PSOE-Podemos government is now strongly in question. It is also possible that a far-right coalition made up of the conservative People’s Party (PP) and the neo-fascist Vox party will take power – the first time the far-right would return to power since the collapse of Franco’s fascist dictatorship in the 1970s.

The policies of the PSOE-Podemos government are sparking explosive, left-wing opposition in the working class. But the pseudo-left parties that support Podemos act to block the formation of any organization that challenges Podemos on its left. The possibility of a right-wing victory is real and growing.

To defeat the turn of the European bourgeoisie towards war and fascist politics, it is necessary to build a revolutionary Trotskyist vanguard in the working class, which makes it possible to overcome the counter-revolutionary role of parties like Podemos. The only way to fight war, impoverishment and the rise of the far right is for the working class to fight on the basis of its own party and program. This requires a break with the PSOE and Podemos, and a struggle to build sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International fighting for socialism, in Spain and internationally.

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