Rajoy’s fall must mean the end of his policies

June 7, 2018

Politics in the Spanish state were upended in June when the Socialist Party (PSOE), left-wing Unidos Podemos and nationalist parties banded together to pass a vote of censure against the right-wing government of the Popular Party’s (PP) Mariano Rajoy. The vote removed Rajoy as president and replaced him with PSOE leader Pedro Sánchez.

The precipitating event for the vote was the conviction of high-ranking PP officials in the “Gurtel case” of bribery and corruption, reaching all the way to the party treasurer. While the left celebrated Rajoy’s downfall, the Sánchez government has tied its hands after agreeing to implement the PP-passed conservative budget. This unfolding situation places a number of challenges before the left in the Spanish state.

In this statement, translated into English by Lance Selfa, the revolutionary socialist organization Anticapitalistas evaluates the current situation and provides a perspective toward expected elections next year. The original statement can be read here.

THE POPULAR Party (PP) has finally been tossed out of the central government. Its parliamentary weakness and untenable situation following the Gurtel ruling put an end to a government that has been faithfully implementing authoritarian, anti-democratic and anti-social policies.

A government rife with corruption and lacking political support was already the living image of the accelerated degeneration of the PP’s project. Thus, removing the PP from government is a relief for the “people on the left” — a glimpse of hope in response to what was a basic democratic emergency.

The Anticapitalistas have defended the legitimacy and necessity of the motion of no confidence in Rajoy, being fully aware of its limitations, and that a Socialist (PSOE) government doesn’t represent a real alternative to the 1978 regime [as the post-Franco parliamentary system, based for years on two main parties, the PSOE and the PP, with limited autonomy for Catalonia and the Basque Country, is known], its structural policies or the dictates of the EU.

Anticapitalistas take part in a demonstration against state repression in Catalonia
Anticapitalistas take part in a demonstration against state repression in Catalonia (Anticapitalistas | Facebook)

These limitations have been clearly demonstrated during the parliamentary session. Among these are: Sánchez’s acceptance of a neoliberal budget that will determine the real economic policy of this new government; the acceptance of the re-centralizing political framework on the territorial issue [the question of Catalonia], barely concealed by empty mentions of dialogue; and his unwavering adherence to the European treaties in a context of the EU’s emerging crisis, as the Italian case recently showed.

On the other hand, we must not forget what the establishment, the regime’s media and its main political representative at the moment Ciudadanos (“Citizens,” or C’s) are betting on at this parliamentary crossroads: the calling of new elections to set the stage for a new “orange” government [orange is the color the Citizens use in their logo and electoral branding].

Fortunately, the no-confidence motion’s outcome and the way it unfolded makes the C’s appear as the other great loser at this time. In this sense, the fact that the political right suffered defeat can only be a cause for joy.

WHAT IS now opening up is a new political era, with different possibilities for development, but with an interesting landscape: a weak government is always the best scenario for a social offensive aimed at recovering rights and winning gains.

We have no confidence in a PSOE incapable of breaking with the dictates of financial powers or constitutional limits, even in their most restrictive readings. We place no faith in a left that believes that, using the state, it can tinker with systemic failures (corruption, inequality, territorial crisis).

It can’t be ruled out that the PSOE will try to rebuild itself, including accepting some of the demands that the social movements have put on the table in recent months. In this way, it could strengthen itself for the new elections.

This presents the popular movement with two options. Either these demands must be conquered by the movements themselves (making an urgent necessity of strengthening the autonomy, self-organization and initiative of these same movements, including the feminist and pensioners’ movements, as well as going on the offensive with a plan for strikes). Or allow the PSOE to appropriate our demands, thus diminishing their potential to strengthen and organize the movement from below.

In this new political cycle, in the midst of intense financial instability at the international level and the inflation of a new real estate bubble, the role of the parliamentary left represented by Unidos Podemos and its supporters should be to build a grassroots political alternative that avoids two dangers: One, falling into the tactic of becoming a mere parliamentary supporter and subordinate to the PSOE because of a “fear of the right”; or two, insistently begging for entry into a PSOE government, which would mean co-opting the “bloc of change” as a political force.

We are in a mainstream political context where “getting out of the crisis” doesn’t mean improving working-class living conditions, but rather increasing the profits of big business and keeping the majority of the population in precarious employment and living on the edge.

The social majority in the neighborhoods and the workplaces — usually invisible in mainstream politics dominated by a middle-class outlook — is the potential basis for a transformative policy. These are the people, who “progressives” have always ignored, that we have to put first.

What is at stake, therefore, is maintaining a combative stance against the whole regime and its parties, and to continue to press strongly (in the institutions and on the street) on a government that is weak both numerically and in its vision, as well as to try push back as much as possible against most dangerous adversary today: the C’s.

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To this end, the best way to do so is to demand the immediate dismantling of the most damaging aspects of the Popular Party’s rule: repealing the Labor Reform, the Gag Rule the LOMCE (i.e., education reform); putting an end to the siege in Catalonia; applying budgetary allocations to the Dependency Law; urgently implementing feminist demands or respecting the anti-Franco historical memory.

These are all issues that can’t be postponed and must be addressed without excuses so that the downfall of Rajoy also means the end of his policies. Because beyond the momentary satisfaction with the defeat of the Rajoy government, only through conflict and confrontation can we win our rights and real democratic advances.

Translation by Lance Selfa

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