June 6th, 2015

The Politics of Anti-Austerity: The Spanish Elections and Participatory Democracy

By Binoy Kampmark Global Research, June 05, 2015

The anti-austerity movement received another shot in the arm towards the end of May, with local elections in Spain following the Greek tune set by Syriza.  The notable casualties of the night were the ruling Popular Party (PP) and the socialist PSOE, necessitating the construction of previously unseen coalitions.   In an even more significant way, the gauntlet is being laid down towards traditionalists insistent on following the belt tightening approach that is strangling growth and encouraging continent-wide estrangement.
It is worth recalling what the night of regional elections heralded.  Madrid and Barcelona fell to two individuals one could hardly have called political regulars.  They were, in fact, bolts from the blue.  Former communist and court judge Manuela Carmena nabbed Madrid, while Barcelona found a new mayoral contender in Ada Colau.  While neither are formerly mayors as yet, with some wrangling to take place on the forming of power, the political scene has been more than just flipped.
As Ada Colau claimed, “This was the victory of David over Goliath.”  Podemos had been the background sponsor, the guiding hand behind the various dissenting movements across the country. It was Podemos who was issuing murmurings of sweet indignation in the Syriza political stalls when Greece went to the polls.  Now, Podemos was getting to play to the stalls of its own country.
Colau’s pedigree is a loud statement that shouts across the political barricades.  Like that of Carmena, it is not steeped in politics so much as a social reckoning.  It says much about Spanish, and more broadly speaking European politics, in its current state.  It is the indignation of the pilfered wallet, the emptied reserves, the heartless, uncompromising foreclosures.
Colau’s own name was made on the activist Platform for Mortgage Victims, a militant grouping initiating sudden interventions at the precise moment when evictions would take place.  The group’s existence owes its genesis to the bursting of the Spanish property bubble of 2008.  Where there are arrears in payment, the spectre of foreclosing banks, and the general sense of banksterville in motion, she is expected to be there to frustrate it.
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