National Elections in the Spanish State: Critical Support for Unidos Podemos!
Workers, Migrants and Youth: Don’t trust the Left-Reformist Program of the Podemos/IU-Leaderships! Organize and Mobilize for a Struggle on the Streets, in Workplaces, and in Educational Institutions!
Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 08.06.2016, www.thecommunists.net
1. New elections will take place in the Spanish State on 26 June on the backdrop of a deep economic and social crisis. After years of recession and stagnation, 21% of the population and 45% (!) of the youth are without jobs, according to official figures. At the same time, the debt of the bourgeois state is huge because of its costly bail-out programs from capitalist banks and corporations. According to the OECD, general government gross debt stands at 117.4% of the country’s GDP.
2. As in other European countries, the reformist labor bureaucracy has terribly failed the workers and youth. The social democratic party, PSOE and the leaderships of the two main trade union federations, UGT and CCOO, agreed in 2011 to a so-called “social pact” – more appropriately called an “anti-social pact” – which included increasing the official age of retirement from 65 to 67.
3. In light of this betrayal of the reformist bureaucracy, the resistance of the working class and lower middle strata – in particular the youth – has manifested itself in various mass movements. In 2011, the Spanish State witnessed a tremendous democratic movement (“Indignados”) involving millions of persons and in subsequent years a number of protests were organized against the harsh austerity programs of the conservative PP government and rising unemployment. Among them were the 2012 Asturian miners' strike and the struggle of tenants committees against forced evictions from their homes.
4. A new party, Podemos (“We can” in Spanish), was founded in 2014 as a political expression of these mass protests. It organized a mass demonstration in January 2015 for democracy and against austerity and neoliberalism in which more than 100,000 persons participated. Despite its relative newness, Podemos has already become the second largest political party in the Spanish State in terms of membership, with nearly 400,000 members. It focuses its protests against the government’s austerity program, the monarchy, and the corrupt political system, and defends the right of national self-determination for the Basque region, Catalonia, etc.
5. Podemos is a progressive, petty-bourgeois populist party with a leadership headed by Pablo Iglesias, and strongly orientated towards the program and organization of the Chavista model. Its social base is dominated by the youth of the impoverished lower middle strata. However, there are also a significant number of workers among its supporters, as is attested to by a number of circulos (local party branches) in working class districts in large cities. About 35% of Podemos supporters are either unemployed or have only a fixed-term contract. Furthermore, Podemos maintains close relations with various grassroots organizations of workers and the lower middle class, like committees of nurses and victims of evictions from their apartments or homes due to the debt crisis.
6. In the last election in December 2015, Podemos became the third-largest party in parliament garnering 20.7% of the vote, only narrowly coming in behind the PSOE (22%). In these elections, the ex-Stalinist Izquierda Unida (IU) received 3.7% of the vote. In short, Podemos is yet another important example illustrating how, despite the lack of authentic revolutionary leadership, in the context of the historic crisis of capitalism, the coupling of traditional reformist parties and the radicalization of sectors of the working class and youth can, in the short term at least, successfully find expression in non-revolutionary organizations.
7. There should be no doubt that Podemos, as a progressive petty-bourgeois populist party, is an unstable, transitional formation. Its petty-bourgeois character and the lack of institutionalized links with established mass organizations make it unlikely that the character of Podemos will remain as it presently is for any significant time. Rather, it is far more likely that the party will either shift to the right and thereby lose many of its active members, or will undergo a split with one wing moving further to the left. A split is by no means out of question given divisions which already exist between the current majority around Pablo Iglesias and a number of minorities within the party, the two principal ones being that presently led by the Mandelite „Anticapitalistas" Teresa Rodríguez and Miguel Urbán, and the other formed around the post-Marxist and anti-globalization intellectual Íñigo Errejón.
8. A few weeks ago, Podemos and Izquierda Unida agreed to form a joint list – called Unidos Podemos – for the upcoming June elections. According to the latest pre-election polls, this joint list will be the second-strongest party – behind the conservative PP and ahead of the PSOE. The list has issued a 50-point joint platform called “Changing Spain: 50 Steps for Governing Together.” This is a left-reformist, Keynesian program focusing on boosting public expenditure in order to create jobs and to reduce poverty. It promises to fight tax evasion and to increase taxes for the rich. It calls for an end to evictions, guaranteed access to water and electricity, and greater funding for education and health. It also expresses support for a referendum for Catalonia on independence as well as constitutional reforms (which would deal with issues like the monarchy and membership in NATO.
9. Under such conditions revolutionaries in the Spanish State should apply the Marxist united front tactic not only for the economic struggles but in the electoral field as well. They should call for critical electoral support for Unidos Podemos on the basis that is has become the political expression of the political radicalization of the working class, the youth, and the lower middle strata. They should demand from the leaderships of Podemos and IU that they consistently oppose all austerity and anti-democratic measures in parliament and that that they mobilize for mass struggles on the streets and in the workplaces for the demands which they put forward in their program.
10. At the same time revolutionaries should warn against any illusions in the respective leaderships of Podemos and IU. These leaders will sell out their electoral promises just like their comrades in SYRIZA did in Greece. It is urgent to help militant workers and youth supporting Podemos and IU to see through the reformist nature of these parties. The strategic and highly urgent goal in the Spanish State, as well as all other countries, is to break the workers and youth away from reformism and to build a revolutionary party – both within the country and globally!
11. The RCIT proposes to the fighters of our class in the Spanish State to build a revolutionary party around a Transitional Program focused on the present main issues of the class struggle. They should advocate the formation of action committees to organize the workers and youth in struggle as well as the formation of a militant rank and file movement in the trade unions in order to kick out the bureaucracy. Such a transitional program should include, among others, the following demands:
* Stop the austerity offensive! No lay-offs! No cuts in social and unemployment benefits! For a public works program to abolish unemployment paid by a massive increase in taxes for the rich!
* Cancel all household debts! Occupy empty housing and oppose all evictions! Organise local action committees to defend tenants and householders threatened with eviction and prosecution!
* Nationalize all banks and corporations without compensation and under workers control! Expropriate the Super-Rich!
* Nationalize all private enterprises which sack workers, giving no compensation and place them under workers’ control!
* Abolish the monarchy and all privileges of the decadent nobility! The Spanish State must get out of the imperialist NATO alliance! Put an end to the state’s colonial possessions in North Africa (Melilla and Ceuta) and hand them over to Morocco!
* For the right of national self-determination for all oppressed and discriminated nationalities in the Spanish State! For a socialist republic of Catalonia and Basque Country!
* For a revolutionary Constituent Assembly!
* Fight against chauvinism and militarism! Open the borders to refugees! Equal rights for migrants! Equal wages and full citizenship rights! Equality for migrants and national minorities’ languages in education and public administration! Defend Muslim migrants against Islamophobic racism!
* For a workers’ government based upon action councils and armed popular militias!
* For a United Socialist States of Europe!
For a more extensive elaboration of the RCIT’s understanding of the Marxist united front tactic in elections in the present period, we refer readers to:
* RCIT-Theses on the United Front Tactic. Theses on the Principles of the United Front Tactic and Its Application to the Current Conditions of Class Struggle, 9 April 2016, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/united-front-tactic/
* Michael Pröbsting: Marxism and the United Front Tactic Today. The Struggle for Proletarian Hegemony in the Liberation Movement and the United Front Tactic Today. On the Application of the Marxist United Front Tactic in Semi-Colonial and Imperialist Countries in the Present Period, May 2016, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/book-united-front/