In the previous article, we saw how the popular perceptions of Spain’s politicians and the global financial crisis have become catalysts for the newly created 15M movement. The movement was formed by people from all sectors of society, who have come together to create a truly democratic state. It is organized by general assemblies in individual cities and without a single leader, and thus has evolved in a slow yet democratic fashion, precisely what the indignados are demanding.
In this continuation, 24-year-old Carlos Barbudo, a member of Madrid's camp-out, analyzes prospects for the movement’s future.
Will it accomplish its goals?
“The question is not whether we will accomplish something, the question is how much. The 15M movement is the beginning of a new political culture in which the people are able to take the reins. In order to build a democracy that serves the people rather than the markets, the first step is for our citizens to behave as such. That is to say, by debating political issues in public, as we are doing now. Where this will lead is something no one knows; how long it will take is impossible to predict. The most important part is that people have lost their fear of speaking to strangers about politics in a public arena. This is fundamental for a country like Spain, where older generations who grew up under the dictatorship of Franco have always told their children, the youth of today, that politics are both dangerous and purposeless.”
How is it going to evolve?
“The current debate in Sol is how to reorganize the camp-out in order to create a support system for the neighborhood assemblies. We are defining a set of objectives and structures to ensure the continuation of the movement without the physical camp-out. We’re thinking of leaving in an organized fashion in order to figure out how to return. Now, the work is in extending and consolidating the networks that have been created. We will see the emergence of factions, subgroups, or platforms that may give the impression the movement is splitting up; when this occurs [in approximately two months], a new phase will have begun. This phase will be one of unification, and what will happen will be a fight to narrate what happened after the May 15 protest; a fight to name the movement, and consequently, to lead it strategically in one direction or another. This is called politics. When the debates begin to develop, we will see the solidification of the pillars upon which we will build the democracy that we all desire.”
How is the movement affecting the current political environment?
“The political debate has not been affected at all. The leaders continued to argue their own supposed misfortunes, as if nothing was happening. That being said, in Spain, this is the norm. If we were only to focus on this, we might be led to believe that nothing has happened to the political system. However, there have been consequences, two of them, in my opinion, fundamental.
When Carme Chacón publicly resigned from competing with Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba in the PSOE’s [Spanish Socialist Workers' Party] primary elections, she said something very interesting: She was trying to promote a social-democratic agenda in which the people were more important than the market. This statement would have been unheard of prior to the 15M movement.
The PSOE’s agenda was based on generating a fear of neo-liberalism and by presenting itself as the ‘less bad’ option. The regional and autonomous elections, held on May 22, put a definitive end to this tactic. The PP’s [People's Party] resounding success was due to the fact that the PSOE’s electorate no longer believed this; the 15M movement was responsible for making it known that the PSOE is no different from the PP. How did they do this? By reminding people that they can be the masters of their own political future. No one said it would be easy, and we have a long and difficult road ahead, but we have accomplished what is most important, saying ‘enough!’ Now, it is up to us to decide.”
Translation Credits: Sonja Gandert
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons