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Debates on the Spanish left

Saturday 10 February 2001

After their electoral defeat in March 2000 at the hands of the Popular Party, the main parties of the left in the Spanish state have held some stormy congresses.

The general secretariat of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) unexpectedly fell into the hands of a candidate from outside the charmed circle. At the congress (Federal Assembly) of the United Left (Izquierda Unida - IU, which today essentially comprises the Spanish Communist Party and some radical left forces) two PCE leaders faced each other and Francisco Frutos, the current general secretary of this party was defeated for the post of general co-ordinator of the IU.

The debates at the IU congress might seem difficult to grasp and confused. Two main issues were effectively run together: the future political orientation of the IU (where the forces of the radical left opposed the orientation of the two main PCE currents) and, determinant in the defeat of Frutos, the question of the maintenance of the pluralist character of the IU, which is largely linked to the confrontation underway inside its main component, the PCE, for control of the party apparatus. The diverse components of the radical left had different appreciations of the importance of this latter point.

We publish here three articles which, while not presenting an overall picture of the debates taking place on the Spanish left, give an illustration of them.

Two are devoted to the recent congress of the IU. The first, written by Jaime Pastor, a leader in the 1970s and 1980s of the LCR, section of the Fourth International in the Spanish state, presents the balance sheet of this congress from the viewpoint of Espacio Alternativo, a radical left current of the IU which contains the majority of militants who identify with the Fourth International in Spain. The second, written by Diosdado Toledano, a trade union leader at SEAT in Barcelona, and Pedro Montes, economist, presents the viewpoint of militants identified with the Fourth International grouped around the review Quadernos Internacionales, who do not participate in Espacio Alternativo. It may be seen that, apart from tactical divergences concerning the recent IU congress, they are not agreed on the potentiality and modalities of recomposition of the radical left inside the Spanish state. The third article is written by Antonio Garcia Santesmases, spokesperson of the Socialist Left inside the PSOE, and presents the perspectives of this left tendency within that party.

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