Good news out of Spain this morning. Both the ruling conservative Popular Party and their mainstream opposition, the Socialists, lost seats in yesterday's parliamentary elections, setting up a situation like the one in Portugal in October where the governing conservative party won the most seats but in a diminished number and ended up being unable to piece together a majority.
As Raphael Minder reports in "Spain’s Governing Party Loses Majority in Parliamentary Election," the big loser is the mainstream duopoly -- a paradigm where there is a conservative Tweedledum and a liberal Tweedledee that both suckle from the same corrupt corporate neoliberal tit -- while the big winners are Podemos and Citizens, new party formations:
Mr. Rajoy’s Popular Party won 123 of the 350 parliamentary seats, down from 186 seats in the last elections, in 2011, according to the results with nearly all of the votes counted. The Socialists won 90 seats, compared with 110 four years ago, when they were ousted from office after an economic crisis hit Spain. The emerging parties Podemos and Citizens will enter Parliament for the first time after winning 69 and 40 seats.
Before Sunday’s vote, the leaders of Spain’s main parties had hinted at possible coalition partnerships, without firmly committing to any.
Mr. Rajoy celebrated the results on Sunday, but gave a cautious message to his supporters, saying, “I will try to form a government, and I believe Spain needs a stable government.”
Podemos and Citizens wanted the elections to mark the end of Spain’s bipartisan system, and they came close to achieving that goal, despite a Spanish system of proportional representation that did not favor them.
Mr. Rajoy’s conservatives and the main opposition Socialists together won 50.7 percent of the votes, their lowest combined total and down from 73.4 percent in 2011.
The elections showed an erosion of support for Mr. Rajoy and his party, but also for the Socialists. Even with their worst election results, they maintained their status as the largest left-leaning party in Parliament thanks to votes in their longstanding regional stronghold of Andalusia in the south.
Podemos was formed early last year as a far-left, anti-austerity party, modeled in part on the success of Syriza, the governing party in Greece. Citizens transformed itself last year from a regional Catalan party, fiercely opposed to the Catalan secessionist movement, into a national party with a liberal economic agenda.
One of the main challenges facing Spain’s next government is Catalonia, where separatist parties are struggling to form their own regional coalition government. According to Sunday’s results, Podemos made the clearest gains in Catalonia, apparently benefiting from a promise by Mr. Iglesias to hold a referendum on Catalan independence if he became Spain’s prime minister. Mr. Rajoy’s government, with the support of Spanish courts, has repeatedly blocked any Catalan attempt to hold such a referendum.
“Spain has voted for a change of system,” Mr. Iglesias told supporters on Sunday night. We’re very happy that the two-party system has ended.”
Mr. Rivera, the leader of Citizens, told his supporters, “Spain is starting a new political era and is doing so because millions have decided that Spain will change.”In the United States it is much harder to change the duopoly because the barriers to third parties and independent candidacies are so enormous. But Bernie Sanders' robust challenge to the anointing of Hillary as the Democratic nominee is a sign that there is just as much voter dissatisfaction with the neoliberal two-party system in America as there is in Spain.
Watching the Democratic debate Saturday, when I wasn't remoting over to the UFC on Fox, I was struck by the left-progressive dominance of the candidates' messaging. Both Sanders and O'Malley demand the break up of the big banks and the return of Glass-Steagall. All Hillary can try to do is obscure the issue by saying that her financial prescriptions, which don't include breaking up the big banks, are actually more extensive than her rivals.
Part of this left-progressive dominance are the withering attacks Hillary absorbed because of her defense of the longstanding U.S. policy of regime change. We have come to a place in this country where the sordid, criminal nature of U.S. interventions can be discussed on national television during a presidential debate. Here is a sample of from Saturday night:
SANDERS: Look, the secretary is right. This is a terribly complicated issue. There are no simple solutions. But where we have a disagreement is that I think if you look at the history of regime changes, you go back to Mossaddegh (ph) in Iran, you go back to Salvador Allende who we overthrew in Chile, you go back to overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, you go back to where we are today in Syria with a dictator named Assad.
The truth is it is relatively easy for a powerful nation like America to overthrow a dictator but it is very hard to predict the unintended consequences and the turmoil and the instability that follows after you overthrow that dictator.
So I think secretary Clinton and I have a fundamental disagreement. I'm not quite the fan of regime change that I believe she is.Sanders has said this before. The former Sixties radical that he is, he'll mention CIA-engineered coups in Iran, Guatemala and Chile. But what about Indonesia?
It is 50th anniversary of the rise of Suharto, the fall of Sukarno, and the genocide of communists in Indonesia, something, as Sanders' coup list makes plain, that we don't really track in the United States, despite the fact that the bloodbath was carried out with extensive U.S. involvement.
The current issue of the Monthly Review is devoted to the Indonesian genocide of 1965-1966. As explained in Notes from the Editors:
In this issue we feature two articles on the 1965–1966 mass killings and imprisonments in Indonesia. The army-led bloodbath was aimed at the near-total extermination of members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), then a highly successful electoral party with a membership in the millions.… In all, an estimated 500,000 to a million (or more) people were murdered. Another 750,000 to a million-and-a-half people were imprisoned, many of whom were tortured. Untold thousands died in prison. Only around 800 people were given a trial—most brought before military tribunals that summarily condemned them to death.… The United States…was involved clandestinely in nearly every part of this mass extermination: compiling lists of individuals to be killed; dispatching military equipment specifically designated to aid the known perpetrators of the bloodletting; offering organizational and logistical help; sending covert operatives to aid in the “cleansing”; and providing political backing to the killers.… [T]he mass killings…[were carried out with the active] complicity of the U.S. media.The duopoly is wobbling. But there is no exit, no place for citizens to turn. New party formation is basically banned in the United States. We live in an irrational, closed society based on consumption. Eventually something is going to burst.