On 23 July we have an unavoidable date with the ballot box. There are different opinions on the left, different political options or perspectives, but we cannot miss the opportunity to use the vote as a means to defeat the right. Abstention is always letting others decide for you. As Joan Fuster wrote: “Politics, either you do it or they do it to you”, “Any politics that we do not do ourselves, will be done against us”. From the citizenry, from the left, from sovereignty and independence, from the trade union movement, from the environmental movement, from feminism, from associations… the maximum mobilisation is needed to prevent the imposition of reactionary policies and the regression of rights.
It is not the threat of “the wolf is coming”. The wolf is already among us. It is the agreements that PP and Vox are implementing in numerous communities and city councils. The examples of the Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands are a small hors d’oeuvre of what could be a government of the extreme right and the Francoist right. A small-scale advertisement of what a right-wing pro-Franco majority in the government of the Kingdom of Spain could represent. A few weeks have been enough for them to start censoring plays or films and to take measures to deny gender violence or the climate crisis. Publications attacked, women’s and LGTBI rights attacked, the Catalan language attacked (the fascist Vox councillor of Borriana requesting the withdrawal from the municipal bookshop of publications, some of which are for children because they “promote separatism” is quite a statement), ¹ the anti-Francoist memory attacked… And yet the wolf is still disguised in sheep’s clothing. In the months that they have been governing in Castilla y León they have tried to make the right to abortion even more difficult and have achieved cuts to limit the activity of the workers’ unions.
And we already know that the programme with which they are running in these elections is to repeal and repeal, to go back on everything that means women’s rights, social rights or equality policies. Democratic rights, in short. Measures to cut rights and to govern so that capitalists and bosses can regain what they got with Rajoy. They don’t care about lies or defamation. Their only truth, their only interest, is to continue governing in favour of the richest and they care little or nothing about the situation of working families as long as they can continue to fill their pockets. Pockets that are already full. For the whole of the common tax territory, we officially know that just over 1.6 million people are in the top 5% of wealth and assets, which represents less than 3.7% of the total population. This meagre percentage of the population has 1.086 trillion euros (45.4% of total net worth) and 136 billion euros (20.1% of total gross income). Of legal income and wealth, not counting tax havens and other hiding places² Today and here.
The vote is needed to prevent, counter or resist some of this and push for a change of course. Yes, we know that the vote is not enough, we know that many mobilisations and resistances do not have an electoral expression, but we also know that wasting the vote can have a great benefit in some moments for the most right-wing and pro-Franco forces. And 23 July is one of these moments.
Because in the face of right-wing reaction, problems cannot be avoided. If there are two reasons why the right can win these elections, they are: one because the measures of the coalition government have been insufficient to respond to the important social and democratic deficiencies that exist; and two because Spanish nationalist demagogy has penetrated very broad sectors of the Spanish citizenry if we exclude Euskalherria, Catalonia, and, partially, Galicia. And among some of these citizens, the “defence of the unity of Spain and the crown” and all the demagogy associated with it (and, to be honest, there is a left that has also taken this chauvinist line, as Xosé Manuel Beiras would say) is more highly valued than the defence of wages, public health and education, the right to abortion³ and, of course, any remotely republican proposal. Not wanting to see the combination of these reasons for a possible victory of the extreme right and the Francoist right is to dodge the problems facing a republican and socialist left.
There are many more people in work than a few years ago, but wages have depreciated above the European average. The minimum wage has been raised, but nearly two million households cannot make ends meet and those who need social assistance to survive are growing by the day. Housing is skyrocketing while there are 3.4 million uninhabited homes (according to data from the National Institute of Statistics) and the housing law is not enough to stop the price of rents. What some have described as a historic leap forward for the wellbeing state with the implementation of the Minimum Vital Income, has proved to be a real ludibrium. More than three years after its birth, it is still a huge failure. More than a historic leap, it could be described as a historic shame. Unconditional and universal basic income, on the other hand, has been viewed more distantly by the current PSOE-UP government.
Steps were taken towards equality between women and men and against gender violence, true. There is talk of building a new country, but this requires recognition of plurinationality and the right of nations to decide their relationship with all the peoples of the peninsula. No one in the PSOE-UP government has stood out for defending the right to self-determination of the peripheral nations or of Spain itself, which has remained a monarchy since it was imposed by Francisco Franco.
The majority force in the government has said it clearly for those who want to hear it: never again the right to self-determination for Catalonia, Euskadi and Galicia, and long live the monarchy.
The proposals of the right wing are a reactionary turn of the screw to everything that represents rights and freedoms. This must be prevented, but the current regime, with its crony capitalism and limitation of rights, has created the breeding ground for this reactionary turn. A change of course is to think of a country with social values and content for working people, a socially and democratically advanced republican perspective.
And yes: the first step is to defeat the right wing on the 23rd. A vote for the left of the state and for the pro-sovereignty and pro-independence left. To achieve this, we need the support of all those who believe that the victory of the right will represent a major attack on democratic freedoms.
We cannot miss this electoral appointment to try to stop this barbarism today with our vote. But in any case, mobilisation against barbarism, whether in the government of the Kingdom of Spain or in the opposition, will be essential. As it already is in the governments of the communities they have managed to take over. It is not a question of provoking fear, it is a question of responding by voting on the 23rd and encouraging the widest social response.
¹ Note the reasoning (sic) of the ultra: since it is written in Catalan it encourages separatism. So, if it is written in Spanish, it encourages Spanish chauvinism: this would be the (absurd) argumentative counterpart.
² Arcarons, J.; Bollain, J.; Raventós D.; and Torrens, L., En defensa de la renta básica. Ed. Deusto, 2023 (to be published in September).