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Elections in Andalusia: the far-right bursts, antifascist alert

Translated by Du Carniel


On Sunday, December 3rd, the Andalusia community took to the ballots to renovate their parliament and governmental board. The result was an impressive defeat of the local PSOE (Spanish Socialist Worker’s Party) government, the growth of votes for the Right in general and the most significant, the burst of a far-right bench, with neo-Francoist positions. The results were as follows: the PSOE won 27,5% of the vote (33 seats, reducing their bench by 15); the PP (People’s Party) won 20,75% (26 seats, seven less than the last election); Ciudadanos (Citizens) won 18,27% (21 seats, more than doubling their bench); Adelante Andalucia (Forward Andalusia), a coalition formed by Podemos and IU (United Left) won 16,18% (17 seats, going back three seats from the current sum of the two parties) and the impressive 11% of Vox (totalizing 12 seats).

For us, Brazilians, the phenomenon we watch in the Andalusian election tastes like repetition. Just as Bolsonaro, oriented by Bannon, the Vox spokespeople celebrated the results euphorically. David Duke, leader of the American Ku Klux Klan, sent his greetings, as a part of the worldwide far-right celebrations.

Andalusia is the most unequal and populous region in Spain. They make up over 17% of the total population. Its borders with Portugal and Gibraltar, their traditional roots and the rivalry fueled by the dominant class among the Andalusian workers and the Catalans mark the community’s peculiarities.

The Spanish State works on the so-called “Statute of Autonomy”, which even if limited considering its initial proposals, grants a certain functioning for the regions on their own, called “Autonomous Communities”, as is Andalusia. The choice of the board depends on parliamentary majority, which must be formed from a coalition which must attain 55 seats, on the total of 109, to indicate the new government.

The PSOE’s defeat, making way for the hypothesis of a possible PP government, with Ciudadanos and Vox, synchronizes the Spanish scenario with the growing European reality: the crisis of the “far-center” and the electoral and parliamentary advance of xenophobe parties, with neofascist motivations.


What is Vox?

Vox was created in 2013, by dissidents of the rightmost wings of the PP, when faced with the corruption crises and with what they considered “retreats” of the Rajoy government, in themes like the Statute of Autonomy and the ETA ceasefire. Their leader is the Basque Santiago Abascal, sociologist and well-known far-right militant, ever since his PP membership.

The party defends a programme that’s very attuned with other hard Right formations, also known as “right-wing populism”. Their main proposal is to transform the Spanish State into a single state, reviewing the regional autonomies, creating a “great Spanish nation”. In addition, their programmatic arsenal attacks the women’s movement self-organization: “end state subsidies for feminist NGO activities”; attacks immigrants, with restrictive proposals that reach the level of “Spain for the Spanish”.

On the ideological scope, the party is clearly friendly to neo-Francoist ideals. It dreams of a return to the past and wants to deny the dictatorship’s crimes. Part of its symbols refer to what were Falangist postures. Their international relations link them to Steve Bannon, with Salvini in Italy, Le Pen in France, Orban, with the new far-right articulations, and with Bolsonaro in Brazil.

After an inexpressive start, Vox grew in members, after the wave of the Catalan sovereigntist struggles, appealing to the xenophobe sentiment among the Spanish State’s own nationalities. The Andalusia victory, where not even the most optimistic prognosis foresaw the size of their voting, is an impulse to install the party nationally.

Spain synchronizes with the global far-right, advancing slots on the board of Bannon’s plan, that of the formation of the “illiberal international”, a pompous name for the cluster of extreme right-wing parties.


The PSOE’s failure

The Andalusian political earthquake has several determinations. One of the common points with other processes, in Europe and even in Brazil, is the failure of social-liberalism. On the origin spot of the far-right, there lies the source of frustration with a pretensely alternative project, which should be identified with the Left.

This quote-unquote-Left is also responsible for the for the Right’s growth, and of its most morbid forms. When facing the organic crisis, the result of an unsuccessful experience with the a so-called “socialist” government leads to the loss of support and social base.

The PSOE ruled Andalusia from the first election after the democratization, which took place on 1982. There the PSOE won almost 53% of the votes. The PSOE was not the most voted party in the regional elections only in 2012, when even still they formed the government in a pact with the Izquierda Unida. As a symptom of the crisis, Susana Diaz, leader of the PSOE, broke with the old pact to form government in coalition with the Right (!), Ciudadanos, in the 2015 elections. This was the final act of the cycle that concluded this past Sunday. The PSOE’s rejection and its collaboration with the monarchic regime were the bases for the institutional contestations of the past few years all over the Spanish State. In the Andalusian case, the additional element is that the PSOE in the region has its spokesperson closest to the Right, Susana Diaz. The open clash with the Sanchez’ “renovating” direction of the Spanish State characterized Susana as the legitimate representative of the business, media and financial world among the ranks of Spanish social democracy.

The global fall of the PSOE is big. Wrapped in corruption scandals, austerity problem and internal crises, these have led to a discredit among its electoral base. Such discredit fueled the organization of its defeat, losing part of its electorate to the C’s, and opening the other door for Vox to enter the Andalusian parliament.

For a better grasp of what’s going on, one must take into account that the main party of the Spanish Right, the PP, also lost votes and seats. The two-party system was one of the support pillars of the monarchic-parliamentary regime that came from the 1978 transition, with the famous Moncloa Pact. Such a model was questioned by the arrival of the “Indignados” (outraged), which, as Podemos coined, treated both parties as part of the same political caste. They got to the definition of the “PPOE”, an irony alluding to the power alternance within a same capitalist project for the Spanish State. The portrait in Andalusia is faithful. Adding the two biggest expressions of the caste, the PSOE and the PP voting, we come to the following picture: in 2012 they won 80% of the vote. In 2015, a little less than two-thirds, arriving now to about 48% of the valid votes.

Many left and center-left electors didn’t go vote. The record abstention, over 41% of the electoral roll, was a punishment for the PSOE.

The question that remains is why Podemos didn’t manage to capitalize for the Left this punishment, or outrage, vote? Among the multiple explanations, one can affirm that the initial novelty impulse, moved by the spectacular ascent of the outraged urban youth, didn’t manage to break the paths of the current regime. Podemos’ line in the Catalunya affair led to the rupture of almost all of its regional section. The approximation with the PSOE in many areas frustrated those who were betting on the exposure of the caste. In the Andalusian case, there weren’t few Podemos leaders who attacked or acted to demobilize the party’s local organization, where anticapitalist positions are hegemonic. Great was also the weight of the rightwards swing in the whole of society.

However, Teresa Rodriguez’ vote, the Adelante Andaluzia ticket leader, as the expression of an anticapitalist line, cannot be underestimated in a context that weighs the electoral setback obtained by the whole of the Left. To win 20% of the vote, maintain a 17-seat bench and the Cádiz city hall.

The presentation of a “faded Podemos”, without their founding essence and radicality, as some sectors who combat the party’s left wing want, only adds to the confusion in the face of a volatile mass movement, having its own experience in an intense, and at times erratic, fashion.


Goodbye 15M?

As part of the map of regimes expressive of organic crises as a result of the economic crisis of 2008, the Spanish State has known an important mobilization with a vocation for rupture, the Indignados demonstration in 2011. The independent action of mass sectors, with a protagonism of the youth, produced an event known as 15M, the date of the arrival into the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid. The mobilization challenged the regime.

As the political expression of this struggle, a completely new experience was born, denying the old Left schemes connected to the PCE (Communist Party of Spain) or to the PSOE. The arrival of Podemos was one of the most advanced points of a Left reorganization in the past decades.

With comings and goings, Spain lived through a new cycle of struggles and experiences. Multiple processes were opened, as the expression of a regime crises, which “shook” but didn’t fall. The process of resumption of the sovereignist struggle in Catalunya, the sectorial organization of struggles on the agendas of housing and healthcare (the “tides”), the election of alternative municipalities in the main cities, the entrance with great force of the women’s movement like in the previous March 8th demonstrations, are indelible marks of the new historical time.

However, as with any phenomenon, the articulation of a reactive subject would not take long. As a response to the impulses for more democracy, for the sovereignty of the Catalan, Basque and Galician peoples, for social rights and for women’s struggle, for the fight for immigrant’s dignity, the Right and far-right repositioned their chips.

For part of the Right, whose social base was the petty bourgeoisie, a “simulacrum” of the 15M needed to be created, at least in its political way. Appealing for traces of what was called technopolitics, the Ciudadanos project was born with the objective of obstructing the space for Podemos, which capitalizes to the Left the discontent with the caste, the regime institutions, in other words, with old politics. It was born as a reaction to stop a mass ascent, in the electoral sphere, of a Podemos able to build a “new majority” in society. And it gained weight with the Left’s hesitations over the Catalan process, since it took root as a modern and liberal Right, contrary to what was called the secession of Spain.

If C’s occupies the space in the political-electoral terrain as a more radicalized form for a reactionary exit for the regime crisis, Vox lifts itself against the immigrants, the nationality struggles and women’s rights. It is a shout from the past to impose, through force, its backwards vision, recovering an outmoded and authoritarian ideology.

The issue is that Podemos, as a larger expression of the 15M movement, despite the huge success of having installed itself in the national political scenario, didn’t gather forces nor had a consequent strategy of breaking with the 1978 regime to the left. As a permanent impasse, the interregnum goes on between the expiration of the Moncloa Pact and a new regime, more democratic, that hasn’t yet been born. Spain in 2018 is not even republican. Therein appear phenomena like Vox, which use the old Francoism’s ghosts, which weren’t eliminated by the 1978 regime, since the fundamental institution of the Crown was maintained, to haunt the contemporary democratic achievements.

Without overcoming the Moncloa Pact, which completes 40 years this week, the impasse that is polarizing the new political reality cannot be overcome. The way Podemos will respond to the new crisis will also make clear what are the perspectives for overcoming “old politics”. Appealing to new pacts, with a PSOE that has already governed and is rejected by public opinion, is repeating old mistakes. The way out for the political crisis is in another dimension of political struggle.

There is the irruption of neo-Francoism with mass acknowledgment to realize a reactionary solution. On the other pole, we must support ourselves on the struggles that grow all over the Spanish State, like we witnessed the Amazon strikes in Madrid, the postal workers strike and the new wave of struggles against austerity in Catalunya and the Basque Country.


The french test, or how to fight the far-right

The project of the Right and the neofascists is to utilize in form and content a social war against workers, their tools, organizations and achievements. This is, broadly, their only long-term strategy. To keep on adjusting, in a contradictory and boiling world, they will have to attack more and more rights.

The experience can be had, with contradictions within the Right itself. Valls, the C’s candidate in Barcelona has said he does not allow for coalitions with fascist sectors, reflecting a part of the liberal base that swings to the right, but doesn’t support such reactionary discourses. On the mass movement’s side, the youth has responded in a spontaneous fashion. Demonstrations with tens of thousands in Seville, Granada and Cádiz, repudiating neo-Francoism under the slogan “they shall not pass”.

The warning is real, the danger exists and fighting it is a necessity. Three are the major tasks the movement faces: organize the antifascist struggle, present a radically new alternative and dispute the courses of the disorganized and confused actions of the mass movement.

To organize the antifascist struggle, the united front is a correct tactic, without losing from sight the dialogue with the sectors from the class who vote for the Right for ideological confusion. Defending democratic liberties, as well as not surrendering dear agendas such as the defense of rights of immigrants and refugees. And gathering diverse social sectors, like students, feminist collectives, the heavier battalions of the working class and the middle layers.

To achieve a wide unity among diverse sectors, the anticapitalist and antisystemic identity must be kept and deepened, breaking the locks to end the monarchic regime. This means raising a programme with a transitional, democratic and radical character, with the defense of themes like the right for self-determination of the Catalan, Galician and Basque people; the defense of a new democratic model of organization that breaks the boundaries of formal democracy; of social rights for the majority of the population, facing banks and big conglomerates.

And as a measure of the political struggle, face the new and winding social movements to dispute them. The “french test”, where a sector without a tradition of union organization or in the Left like the Yellow Vests featured in a barricade struggle of historical character, is one of the paths to avoid the appropriation of popular discontent by the populist Right. Even if Le Pen is disputing the movement’s courses, the role of the radical Left cannot be the omission, and instead the action in the contradictions of consciousness, to unite the different traditions of struggle of exploited sectors.

The first condition of the radical Left to dispute a social majority, in the face of fascist threats, is to put itself besides the elementary right for revolt against the status quo. Lessons from France, but which surely serve to Spain and also to Bolsonaro’s Brazil.

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