A panel session with: Isidro López (Observatorio Metropolitano, Madrid) and Raimundo Viejo (University of Girona, Political Science).
Since the onset of the global crisis in 2008, Spain has been suffering an economic depression every bit as deep and socially disruptive as that of the US in the 1930s. In response, the Spanish government, in concert with the IMF, ECB and European Commission, has imposed a brutal austerity program to reduce government spending in aid of economic recovery and undertaken massive public borrowing to bail out the country’s crisis-bound financial sector. But civilian joblessness has reached 25 per cent and basic services like health and education are in near collapse, while the debt has only grown. Public outrage has exploded in a series of mass mobilizations led by young people and the semi-employed, in alliance with the trade unions— notably M15 and the movement of Indignados. Nevertheless, the country’s two leading political parties, the center-left Socialist Party (PSOE) and center-right People’s Party (PP), have insisted on doing the bidding of the north European governments and financial institutions in the face of the continuing collapse of the nation’s living standards, and this has opened the way for the spectacular rise of a new opposition political force Podemos. In its little more than a year of existence, Podemos has managed to make itself into a serious political contender by focusing on a single demand — that what it calls the caste, the elite political forces organized in PSOE and PP, be expelled from power.