Spain’s social movements win city elections
In the wake of the “Arab Spring,” close to a million people took Madrid’s central square, La Puerta del Sol, on May 15, 2011, kicking off the uprising of the “Indignados.” Actions on the four-year anniversary of the movement that participants call “15M” called out the persistent plagues that touched off the occupation: evictions and displacement, unemployment and uncertain employment, austerity and the enmeshment of the political class with the one percent. The May 2015 rallies and march in Madrid also gave a snapshot of the activism born and deepened by 15M, activism which would bear fruit at the polls a week later, when candidates backed by the social movements earned enough votes to (most likely) take the mayors’ offices in Barcelona and Madrid.
Neither anti-eviction activist Ada Colau, from Barcelona en Comú, nor Manuela Carmena of Ahora Madrid, won an outright majority. But each is expected to become mayor after forming a coalition with representatives of sympathetic political parties.
This short video from the 15M anniversary march, made by URO editor Clifton Ross, features an interview with Nacho Murgui, City Council candidate with Ahora Madrid and ex-president of the Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid. Murgui won his Council seat handily, getting more votes than any Ahora Madrid candidate except for Manuela Carmena. In the interview, he discusses Ahora Madrid and the relationship between social movements and electoral work.
Both Ahora Madrid and Barcelona En Comú take a novel approach to electoral work. They are not political parties as such, but draw together parties, social movement and neighborhood groups, and a broad range of individuals to develop “people’s platforms” and field candidates that support these platforms. Though the Madrid and Barcelona groups were the most successful in the May regional elections, similar organizations are working in other cities around Spain, Murgui said.