[Marxism] Article prompted by the recent elections in Spain

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Jul 1 11:08:45 MDT 2004


THROUGH THE SMOKE OF ATOCHA

A Reflection on Spanish State Politics Prompted by the Recent Elections

by Ed George

Nunca respondas al necio según su insensatez, para que no seas tú 
también como él.

Responde al necio según su insensatez, para que no se estime sabio en su 
propia opinión.

  --Proverbios 26:4-5

The language of hyperbole and cliché generally counts for too much in a 
lot of political analysis, but in the case of recent developments in the 
Spanish state it seems not to be overstating matters to say that the 
recent election of PSOE, the Spanish Socialist Party, to government has 
sent shock waves throughout the governments of the developed capitalist 
world. That the Socialists, led by their fresh young leader José Luis 
Rodríguez Zapatero [1] - and that one can be fresh and young at the age 
of 43 must stand as something of an indictment of bourgeois politics - 
won the election against every prediction was surprise enough. That the 
defeated incumbent, José María Aznar, leader of the neoliberal, 
neoclerical Partido Popular, had been a key international figure, along 
with Tony Blair, in the preparation and carrying out of the war in Iraq 
added to the novelty an international dimension. And that, within days 
of assuming office, Zapatero, completing the first fulfilment of his 
election promises, ordered the immediate withdrawal of the Spanish state 
contingent of the occupying forces in Iraq, prompted many commentators 
to speak of a global realignment of the political stage.

Of course, to say that the election had been held in extraordinary 
circumstances would be to understate the matter. Just three days before, 
the campaign had been brought to a crashing halt as a series of holdall 
bombs - timed to explode simultaneously in the giant terminus of Atocha 
- ripped through early-morning commuter trains in Madrid, leaving around 
two hundred dead and five times as many maimed and injured.

Up to that point it had been clear that there was no possibility 
whatsoever of the PP losing the election - the only doubt in people's 
minds was whether it would be able to maintain its absolute majority in 
the Spanish parliament, or whether it would be forced to look for 
alliances with other parties to operate as an effective government. But 
that there was any serious possibility of the Socialists winning was 
regarded, outside of the party's headquarters in the Calle Ferraz in 
Madrid - and even by some within this sanctum, already sharpening their 
knives in anticipation of the power struggles ahead - as absurd.

Before we look at the specific circumstances of the election itself, the 
prospects for the new government, and the ramifications of its election 
both within and without the Spanish state, then, it would be worth first 
reflecting on why its victory had been regarded as so improbable in the 
first place. In order to do that, it will be necessary to take a step 
back from the immediate conjuncture, and take a rather longer term view 
of the political make-up of the Spanish scene as it has unfolded since 
the death of the dictator Franco in 1975. [2]

full: http://www.marxmail.org/ATOCHA.htm





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