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Europe, Politics, Spain

Spanish artists and intellectuals call for “reconstruction of the Left”

Film-maker Pedro Almodóvar and a number of other leading Spanish artists and intellectuals who were once supporters of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s governing socialists have signed a manifesto calling for the “reconstruction of the Left.”.

The manifesto, also signed by radical journalist Ignacio Ramonet, says: “The discrediting of politics, the repeated complaints about corruption of democratic life cannot leave progressive consciences indifferent…The Left has a bigger problem than the advance of reactionary options in the municipal elections: the lack of a vision. We are convinced of the need to reconstruct today’s Left. And you?”

The socialists suffered major losses in local and regional elections in May at the hands of the right wing Popular Party after pursuing austerity policies designed to placate speculators in the financial markets, the IMF and Governments elsewhere in Europe concerned that Spain may follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in a bailout. Communist-led United Left was the only parliamentary party to oppose tough spending cuts. But it has not made any political capital out of the disaffection with the socialists among their traditional supporters.

According to the poet Luis García Montero, who was among figures from the world of Spanish culture who launched the manifesto on Saturday 2 July at the Círculo de Bellas Artes de Madrid the aim was to “struggle against a culture dominated by profit-seeking, financial power and every-one-for-himself.” The manifesto was a “call for a civic mobilisation” to “build an alternative”, a “new political culture” and to “reinvent the Spanish democracy”.

The model for Garcia and colleagues is the May 15 (15-M) protest movement, the young indignados who occupied Madrid’s Puerto Del Sol and the main city plazas across the country from mid-May. Montero stated that it was essential to “renew the people, language and above all methods in order to escape the dead end.”

Despite falling off the global media’s news agenda and packing up their encampments, the 15-M movement has continued to be active. It has been organising resistance to evictions that have soared amid a catastrophic housing slump, making long marches from the regions to the capital and last week held a debate in Madrid’s central square simultaneously with  the traditional parliamentary “state of the nation” debate in the Cortes.

Recent polls show continuing support for the 15-M movement. Sixty four percent back the movement and four out of five endorse their radical demands, which include a rejection of austerity policies and regressive labour and pension reforms, and a shorter working week and a public investment bank to help cut 21% unemployment. The indignados’ single most important demand  is a shake the political system to end the domination by the socialists and the Popular Party.

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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