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Spain: workers and youth rout Aznar government

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The Socialist Workers Party of Spain (PSOE) won a remarkable election victory on Sunday, thanks to the huge Spanish anti-war feeling and the blatant attempts of the Popular Party of José Maria Aznar to manipulate the mass grief and outrage over the horrific train bombings in Madrid into anti-ETA hysteria.

The death toll from Thursday's bombs today rose to 201. However once it dawned on the millions in the streets that this was what Aznar was up to, the anti-ETA spin rebounded on him with a vengeance. On Friday and Saturday illegal demonstrations of thousands protested against Aznar's attempt to hijack the election for his war.

Suddenly the endless media coverage of the atrocities, with ministers blaming ETA stopped dead, replaced by showing of films like The Lion King. Only at the last minute was the mounting evidence allowed to break that the outrage was linked to al-Qaida and thus to the war.

But the manipulation was all too clear. The masses soon realised that the "war on terrorism" itself has made the city and the country a target for these indefensible acts. In particular it seems the two million young first-time voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly against Aznar.

PSOE leader and premier-elect José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has promised "The Spanish troops in Iraq will come home". He told the media: "The war has been a disaster [and] the occupation continues to be a disaster. It has only generated violence." Fine words but on all past form it will take action on the streets to hold the PSOE to its promises.

Batasuna, the outlawed political party close to ETA, condemned the attack in Madrid and declared its sympathy with the victims. So did ETA, in a break with its tradition of neither confirming nor denying its own involvement in such actions.
The "unexpected" defeat of Aznar and the Partido Popular should be used by the activists of the anticapitalist and antiwar movements to demand not only the immediate withdrawal of all Spanish troops from Iraq but decisive actions to end Madrid's war against the Basque people. Here it will be a real fight because the PSOE has supported all of Aznar's measures against those who demand self-determination and the right to secede from the Spanish state.

It supported Aznar's banning of Batasuna and a whole series of organisations sympathetic to its policies. These bans must be lifted at once. The hundreds of Basque militants rotting in jail must be immediately released. Batasuna and ETA have repeatedly proposed negotiations with the Spanish government, offered a cease-fire, and the opening of a "peace process". PSOE and PP governments alike contemptuously refused this on the grounds that they would "never negotiate with terrorists".

All the organisations of the radical Basque nationalist movement should now call for a ceasefire in the "armed struggle". This will enable them open a dialogue not with the treacherous Spanish chauvinist politicians in Madrid but the workers and youth of all parts of the country, who have repeatedly shown their anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist aspirations.

These masses- and above all the youth- can be won to the fight for full and unrestricted self-determination for the Basque people. Indeed there are many democratic and social demands of the masses that need to be addressed - including an end to the reactionary Spanish monarchy and the privileges of the Catholic Church.

To this must be added a reversal of the neoliberal "reforms" of Spain's public servces, agreed to at the Lisbon EU summit three years ago and enthusiatically backed by Aznar.

The election victory of the PSOE reflects the tremendous groundswell of opposition of the Spanish workers and youth to war, neoliberalism and the lying hypocrisy of modern bourgeois politics. The PSOE is a party deeply connected to the Spanish working class movement - it is the party to which the masses naturally turned in their furious determination to rid themselves of Aznar. But it is a party which pursues a pro-capitalist policy, a party that is bound by a thousand ties to the rich financiers and industrialists of Madrid, Barcelona and Bilbao.

Therefore, the workers and youth, the antiwar and anticapitalist masses, should not trust the privileged 'Zapateristas' and the PSOE leaders one inch, but should now maintain the pressure on the streets, and raise the call for bold measures against the warmongers and the capitalists:

* Spanish troops out of Iraq NOW; no delays, no further complicity in the imperialist occupation
* US bases out of Spain - Spain out of NATO
* Referendum in the Basque country - a single question for all inhabitants: 'Do you wish to secede from the Spanish state and form an independent Basque state?'
* Abolish the monarchy - republic now
* Reverse neoliberal cuts and privatisations - tax the rich to fund services
* Nationalise the monopolies and major corporations under workers' control without compensation
* No coalitions with bourgeois parties. For a government of the PSOE and the United Left

Above all, the masses who took to the streets in February 2003 against war, who kept up the demonstrations against Aznar last week, who voted the state terrorists out of office should rely on their own strength - the only guarantor of progress and liberty. They should form democratic popular assemblies, coordinations and social forums in every city, every town, every village, every workplace and college. Only then will they be able to create the government they deserve - not a government of bourgeois ministers based on a coalition in the Cortes, but a Workers' Government based on delegates accountable to the popular organisations.

With the European Social Forum coming up in October this year it is vital to interest and involve the whole of Europe in the struggles of the workers, youth and oppressed nationalities of the Spanish state. The victory of the progressive forces of Spain over Aznar should encourage similar forces in Italy and Britain where Aznar's best buddies, Berlusconi and Blair, are under pressure over the lies and deceptions they used to go to war.

Events in Spain should enormously encourage us in mobilising for another huge day of mass demonstrations against the occupation of Iraq and the threat of antidemocratic measures at home. All the warmongers, all the neoliberals who are demolishing our public services and welfare provision, all the sinister regimes that are stripping away our civil liberties and democratic rights, need to be driven from office. In this way we can open the road for the construction of another world- one without imperialism, exploitation, war or terrorism - a socialist world.