In the second part of this post I’ve explained the recent history and evolution of the social movements in Spain. In this post I’m going to focus in #15m (or Indignados) movement, how they’ve started, their proposals, things that, IMHO, they’ve done well, things to improve and where they should go.
As I said in my previous post, Indignados movement has been influenced by the #nolesvotes movement, which shows both how to self-organize in a global way (the opposite of the traditional social movements has done historically, working at a neighborhood level or, at best, at a city level) and how the new technologies can help in this self-organization, but, obviously, it’s not the only movement that has influenced to #15M.
In recent years the social movements in Spain have seen a revival in grassroots organization, whose work in the neighborhoods has been an essential breeding ground for movement #15M. These grassroots organizations have a participatory democracy based on people’s assemblies and consensus decision making. These horizontally structured assemblies are completely transparent and open to anyone who wants to participate. The groundwork has served not only to learn work techniques and methodologies assemblies, but also enabled them to know the people, know their concerns and problems and know how to work with them.
Therefore, having these two movements as parents it’s not strange how quickly this movement has emerged and spread throughout all the country, in a way that only a few people could imagine.
On January 2011, the digital platform Democracia real YA (one of the main actors in #15M movement) was created on Spanish social networks and forums. Having the support of organisations such as ATTAC, Intermon Oxfam, Ecologists in Action or Youth without Future, and using Twitter and Facebook it called “the unemployed, poorly paid, the subcontractors, the precarious, young people…” to take the streets on 15 May in almost every city in Spain (you have at Wikipedia a comprehensive list of all the places that were called to take the streets on that day). That same day, small demonstrations in support of the Spanish ones were organised in Dublin, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Bologna, London and Paris.
The first protest was called under the motto “we are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers” and was focused on opposition to what the protesters called “antisocial means in the hands of bankers”, partly referring to the changes made in 2010 to contain the ongoing European sovereign debt crisis through bailout of the banks, which the Spanish society saw as responsible for the crisis, while at the same time the government kept announcing social program cutbacks. Protesters also demanded more democracy, a new electoral law and end to political corruption as well as other claims, such as banks nationalisation.
The main demand of #15M is a radical change in Spanish politics, and, although #15M is a heterogeneous and ambiguous group, they share a strong rejection of unemployment, welfare cuts, Spanish politicians, the current two-party system in Spain between the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party and the People’s Party, as well as the current political system, capitalism, banks and bankers, political corruption and firmly support what they call basic rights: home, work, culture, health and education.
As #nolesvotes, they don’t consider themselves to be represented by any traditional party nor favoured by the measures approved by politicians. If you want to know more about the #15M proposals and actions you can visit their official page and read their manifesto.
The impact of #15M has been bigger than anyone thought, because according to statistics published by RTVE (the Spanish public broadcasting company) between 6.5 and 8 million Spaniards have participated in these protests, an unthinkable thing at the beginning of the year, and in this kind of things you can’t trust the official information, so probably the participation has been even more.
I think the most important thing that this movement has made is to make the spanish population aware that we can change the actual situation of our country, because a lot of people didn’t think they can do something to make a change.
Also, I think that #15M can have a life much longer than much people can imagine, from one side because the changes they are proposing are big ones, and they need time to define both the changes we have to make to have a fairly society and the strategy to make this changes possible, and from the other side because they have reach a big impact in the population, a lot of people has been a part of #15M, and being part of a movement like this makes you feel that your contribution is important, and, although sometimes you can desperate, this is a feeling that once you have it you want to keep it.
Seeing the movement from the outside (although I wanted to involve myself in the movement I couldn’t find the time until now) I think that sometimes they’ve enter in the politician’s game more than they needs, but, obviously, it’s a new and complex situation to handle and it can’t be perfect.
The movement has passed some critical times and situations (like the time after the local elections or the Pope visit), and they’ll going to pass some more critical situations, but I think that the most important one is to handle the people’s mood (it’s a long path and a lot of people can desperate).
Finally, although the movement can end in nothing, I think that the process is very important, not only because we’re trying to change important thinks, but also because we are changing the point of view of a lot of people that, until now, they didn’t realize they can make a change, and this is the seed of future revolutions.
P.P.D.: All the ideas I expose here are personal opinions, comming only from myself, and here I don’t represent any of the organizations I belong to.