Thursday, 4 June 2009

Europeos al español

If it weren´t for the major parties habits of flyposting every available surface, and hanging flags from every tree, then you might struggle to work out that there was an election in two days time. In all my travels around the city I´ve managed to see a grand total of two stalls (one PSOE, one PP) and a van from one of the random "EUROPE´s fantastic, they give us loads of money" parties.

You can´t escape the idea that aside from the Europhile cranks, no-one really gives a shit round here. And if no-one cares here, where the EU is largely credited for making Spain a developed country after years of Franco, then no-one is really going to care anywhere.

As for the results, it´ll be as you were as the PSOE and PP both hold onto their votes, the former because Rajoy is one of the most unpopular opposition leaders in Europe and the PSOE is actually trying to help people through the crisis (being on balance, the most left-wing government in any major Western European country), the latter because Zapatero is, despite all that, a pretty uninspiring human being.

The Izquierda Unida will once again tread water, managing not to deteriorate as badly as their Eurocommie cousins over the water in Italy. Which, with the exception of Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste seems to happening all over Europe. The reality is, for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth in the UK, the Spanish left is taking no more advantage of the crisis than they are.

Though the IU´s high tide was a good deal higher than any UK equivalent (for a variety of reasons, both historical and relating to the two countries electoral systems), the proof of the pudding in the Left-wing alternative pudding is in how its fortunes are changing in the face of the recession. Now, I´ve never said that it logically follows that economic depression equals a swing to the left. In fact often recessions produce a sort of stoic fatalism that makes people wait it out until the next upswing. If the consequences are global enough, local polite elites can avoid blame for them, even, as is the case in Spain, the effects are stronger locally than the global average.

More than that, if the recession really exposes the instability of global capitalism, and reveals how little it serves the general population, you should still expect a better hearing for those with an alternative. But not any old alternative. Preaching old-style social democracy seems to be no more convincing in bad times than it is in good ones. Neither do these parties seem to be able to articulate a fundamentally different vision of the future that appeals to anything more than the usual groups.

For years I´ve wondered whether I would join a functioning left party in the UK, if one existed. Well, the answer in practice seems to be no. The thought of desperately flyering for the bright mixed-economy nationalizations of the future makes me feel a bit queasy...

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