Axis of Logic
Finding Clarity in the 21st Century Mediaplex

Beginning the end of Spain's two-party system
By Roberto García-Patrón García-Fraile, teleSUR
Tuesday, Feb 10, 2015

People fill Madrid's landmark Puerta del Sol as they gather at a rally called by Spain's anti-austerity party Podemos (We Can) in this panoramic photo January 31, 2015 | Photo: Reuters

On February 4, the Spanish Center for Sociological Research (CIS) released their latest polls showing an advantage by 1.7 percent for the left political party Podemos over the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) in this November's upcoming General Elections.

The news was huge. While the elections are still months off, the poll forecasted the potential break of the Spanish two-party system, in which two major political parties have controlled power in the country for the last 30 years.

Podemos has arisen from the ashes of the indignados social movement, which was weakened considerably by the end of 2013 after the constant restrictions to freedom of speech and the increase in the number of arrests and fines against activists.

When we started the social movement of the indignados in Madrid in May 2011, we never expected the end of the two-party political system in Spain. The indignados movement is a social movement which began in the central square of Madrid with a solidarity campaign demanding the government of Madrid release 16 persons arrested after the famous rally on May 15. The movement was made by the people to the people, emulating the Minga movement in South America and using direct democracy assemblies to make the decisions. I was coordinating the political assembly in the Acampada Sol and at that moment were would talk about and coordinate actions to reorganize the political system in Spain. After decades, we Spaniards were resigned to the official state of things like the structural unemployment and corruption of the politicians and bankers tied to the real-estate industry. However, after May 15 we recovered the motivation to fight against the establishment.

In August of 2011, the Spanish Congress approved a law to reform the post-Franco 1978 Constitution, changing Article 135 in order to prioritize debt payments to banks in the national budget over social programs, putting profits for the elite over the constitutional rights to education and health for the rest. It was also the first time in 20 years that both parties controlling the Congress — the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the center-right Popular Party (PP) — agreed to a Constitutional change.

For the social movements and the left parties in Spain, it felt as though they were betraying the entire nation. Days after the Constitutional change, we held a massive assembly under the slogan "No to this constitutional reform. Down with the markets' world order," just 200 meters away from the Spanish Congress. We were fed up and discussed the need to make profound change without taking power. Our options were limited. Before us stood a government coalition that had for years rejected every grassroots demand except one in the last 30 years.

With the increasingly successful rise of Podemos – remarkable considering the party has a little over 1 year under its belt – the prospects for the left in Spain now appear greater than ever before. Though the elections are months off, Podemos is inspiring millions, working to hand power to the people creating the Circles – what we call the new assemblies inside the political party – where the participants can talk about party positions and issues. In fact, there is also an intense struggle between two models of leadership: the collective leadership and the personal one.

Podemos is putting back a smile on the face of a depressed country where, according to the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AEMPS), the consumption of anti-depressants has tripled over the last ten years. Podemos is not about radical ideals, it is not about to change the whole productive model or even the whole political system – it's more about coherence and clarity. After the indignados movement, Spanish values have changed, and it's only logical that the economic and political system should adapt to the new situation or be renewed.

After the worst economical crisis in history because the real-estate industry's fraud, Spaniards know that we need to change the political, communications, and economic systems in order to survive. The neoliberal reforms – passed by the PP and PSOE in the last 4 years of crisis using the excuse of the “sacrifice” – have become the path to slavery for every Spaniard. The crisis has leveled the playing field, with everyone, man, woman and child being hit hard and at risk of poverty.

This CIS poll has offered the Spanish people verifiable data on the probability of real change. Supporters no longer believe that everything that the indignados movement did was done in vain. There is hope. We have taken the first steps towards the liberation of Spain from the fangs of the “casta”, as we call the oligarchy in Spain.

The change that is coming and forecasted by CIS is not only due to Podemos or it's leader Pablo Iglesias Turrion, but as an accumulation all of the struggles (the anarchist movement in the 80, the ecologist movement in the 90, anti-Iraq war movement and the students movement in 2000) that the Spanish people had embraced over the last three decades of pseudo-democracy. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that Podemos is leading the way at this moment.

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