Monday, 21 November 2011

Swings and roundabouts in Spain

Modern electoral politics is like the game of swigs and roundabout’s; you take a mouthful of this and a mouthful of that and then you go on a trip on the political roundabout. In reality it's always a draught that the working class ends up in.

Take yesterday’s Spanish election for example, the right-wing Popular Party won the 2011 parliamentary election, according to the latest vote count, with the ruling Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) having now conceded defeat.

With 78 per cent of the poll now counted, the opposition Popular Party has won around 44 per cent of the vote and is expected to gain an out-and-out majority of 187 seats in the 350-seat lower house of the Spanish parliament, as Reuters reported shortly after the polls closed on Sunday.

The Socialists lost a third of their seats as voters dumped a government that presided over a dramatic economic slump which has left 23% of Spaniards out of work.

Outgoing Prime Minister Jose Luis Roderiguez Zapatero, who led the PSOE, introduced tough austerity measures in 2010, including a five per cent salary cut for public servants, a pension freeze and a rise in the retirement age from 65 to 67 years.

This has been for Spain the season of funerals, healthcare, education, transport, public services have all been declared dead, given symbolic burials by grim faced citizens, so deep have been the cuts in public spending. And a resigned population now awaits the axe to fall again, and it will.

Once hailed as one of Europe's success stories economically, politically and socially, Spain is facing problems of large deficits, 21 per cent unemployment (5 million are out of work with youth unemployment at 48 per cent), no growth and a generalised malaise. The Spanish socialists who spearheaded bold reforms such as gay marriage, legislation against domestic violence and the re-examination of Spain's fascist past, lost on the economic front. They went to bed with capitalism or rather tried to run it and the result annihilation at the polls.

Spain is a fine example really of the utter failure of the reformist road which can never be made to work in the interests of working people anywhere in the world, and it is in actuality time to get off that political roundabout.

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