This day in 2011, the Indignados protesters occupied Madrid’s Puerta del Sol to denounce Spain’s dominant parties and their austerity agenda. Ten years later, the Spanish left no longer has that insurgent dynamism — but it’s had an enduring success in breaking a previously monolithic neoliberal consensus.
Eoghan Gilmartin is a writer, translator and Jacobin contributor based in Madrid.
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias has announced his retirement. Over the last decade, he brought the radical left to the heart of Spanish politics — but its challenge to the establishment ultimately fell short.
On Thursday night, the Murcia regional HQ of Spain’s Podemos party was set ablaze with a petrol bomb. The incident was the latest in a string of terrorist attacks against the Left — showing how the growth of the parliamentary far right is combining with the rise of a violent neofascist street movement.
On Monday, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias announced he is resigning as Spain’s deputy prime minister to run for election in the Madrid region. Iglesias’s move to regional politics is aimed at blocking the formation of another far-right government in the capital — but it also highlights his own party’s need to go beyond relying on one brilliant communicator.
One of Donald Trump’s last decisions in office was a squalid diplomatic deal with Morocco, granting US recognition of its occupation of Western Sahara in exchange for Moroccan recognition of Israel. Since the move, the Saharawi population has faced intense military repression — yet the Biden administration refuses to say whether it will reverse Trump’s colonial handover of the territory.
The Trump-brokered deal between Morocco and Israel normalizes relations between the two states. But the outgoing president bought Morocco’s agreement by endorsing its ownership of Western Sahara — making the US the only major state to rubber-stamp an occupation regime condemned by international law.
A year into Spain’s coalition government, today’s budget offers major public health care investment and a commitment to expand the Guaranteed Minimum Income plan. These promises show how Unidas Podemos has changed the political agenda — and yet centrist ministers are still stonewalling on measures that risk upsetting business.
Spanish deputy prime minister and Unidas Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias talks to Jacobin about the experience of Spain’s left in government, the current historical moment, and Podemos’s trajectory over the last six years.
Even after Spain’s late 1970s transition to democracy, its political establishment maintained a tactful silence over the record of Franco’s dictatorship. But a bill advanced by the left-wing government insists on the need to acknowledge the dictator’s crimes — and identify the estimated 112,000 people lying in unmarked graves across Spain.
Spain’s First Communist Minister Since the 1930s: “The Right Can’t Accept a Party Like Ours in Government”
This January, a pact between the Socialists and Unidas Podemos gave Spain its first ruling left-wing coalition since the Civil War. One of two communist ministers, Alberto Garzón, spoke to Jacobin about the government’s survival in these times of crisis — and why the militant right still refuses to accept its legitimacy.
On Sunday night, Spain’s former king Juan Carlos fled the country in order to evade prosecution over mass-scale money laundering. Once hailed as a leader of the transition away from dictatorship, the monarch’s corrupt dealings show how Spain’s powerful business interests continue to stand above democratic scrutiny.
The anarchist bricklayer Lucio Urtubia made his name robbing banks in order to fund clandestine revolutionaries in Franco’s Spain. He insisted that there was nothing criminal about his expropriations of firms like Citibank — arguing that “he who robs a thief is a thousand times forgiven.”
Four decades since Spain’s transition to democracy, nostalgists for the Franco era are sharply resisting calls to topple its monuments and recognize its victims. Their fight to control historical memory isn’t just a “culture war” — it’s a bid to defend the power of businesses that profited from the fascist regime.
In one of Europe’s most unequal countries, Spain’s working class is particularly suffering during the pandemic. Unidas Podemos’s “COVID tax” on millionaires’ assets will help rebuild long-neglected public services — and end decades of bipartisan tax giveaways to the rich.
How the Chairman of Spain’s Real Madrid Football Club Presided Over a Coronavirus Catastrophe in Nursing Homes
For decades, oligarchs like Real Madrid chairman Florentino Pérez have made Spain’s old-age care sector a favored cash cow. Today, the coronavirus deaths caused by their penny-pinching are a grim monument to the failures of privatization.
Spain has announced it will take over private hospitals and pharmaceutical companies to fight coronavirus. Yet in the PSOE-Podemos coalition, some ministers are still defending fiscal austerity. Their neoliberal dogma could get people killed.
Today Alberto Garzón was sworn in as a minister in Spain’s new government — the first communist to take up such a role since the Civil War. He spoke to Jacobin about what it means to be a communist today and how Spain’s social movements can shape the next government’s agenda.
The new government coalition between the PSOE and Podemos is a historic opportunity for the Spanish left. After years of rising nationalist tensions, Podemos can turn the agenda back to the fight against austerity.
Podemos’s deal with the PSOE promises Spain’s first left-wing coalition government since the 1930s. Yet with European and corporate elites already throwing up obstacles, Podemos’s hopes of forcing through change rely on it building its power outside the institutions.
After a failed early election gambit, Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has finally accepted Podemos into his government. It’s a huge achievement for the Left — and a way to free Spain of its sharpening nationalist tensions.