The Spanish Left: Towards a ‘Common Home’?

  • Paul Heywood

Abstract

The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and the subsequent disintegration of the Soviet Union have presented fundamental challenges to the communist parties of Western Europe. It is no exaggeration to talk in terms of potentially terminal crisis: both the role and the relevance of communism in the late twentieth century have been called sharply into question since the dramatic events of 1989–91. The very survival of communism as a meaningful political force on the world stage is open to question. In Spain, the Partido Comunista de España (PCE) had already undergone a near fatal crisis in the late 1970s and early 1980s — an experience which not only predates the general crisis of European communism by a decade, but has also conditioned the Spanish response to it. Thus, it is possible to speak of two crises in the recent history of Spanish communism.

Keywords

Europe Schizophrenia Nism Boulder Defend 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    See Paul Heywood, ‘Rethinking Socialism in Spain: Programa 2000 and the Social State’, Coexistence, 30/3 (1993).Google Scholar
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    Eurocommunism generated a veritable explosion of literature in the late 1970s and early 1980s (see Introduction, note 1). On the Spanish case see, in particular, the works of Fernando Claudín, Eurocommunism and Socialism (London: New Left Books, 1978) and Santiago Carrillo: Crónica de un secretario general (Barcelona: Planeta, 1983). For further references, see Paul Heywood, ‘Mirror-images: The PCE and the PSOE in the Transition to Democracy in Spain’, West European Politics, 10/2 (1987).Google Scholar
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    Carrillo described the main characteristics of eurocommunism as follows: ‘The parties included in the “Eurocommunism” trend are agreed on the need to advance to socialism with democracy, a multi-party system, parliaments and representative institutions, sovereignty of the people regularly exercised through universal suffrage, trade unions independent of the State and of the parties, freedom for the opposition, human rights, religious freedom, freedom for cultural, scientific and artistic creation, and the development of the broadest form of popular participation at all levels and in all branches of social activity. Side by side with this, in one form or another, the parties claim their total independence in relation to any possible international leading centre and to the socialist states, without ceasing on that account to be internationalist.’ ‘Eurocommunism’ and the State (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1978), p. 110.Google Scholar
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    The UCD government took Spain into NATO following the attempted coup of 23 February 1981. The PSOE’s promised referendum was a dominant issue in Spanish politics from 1982 to 1986, and the NATO debate generated a substantial literature. A useful guide to some of the key issues is Federico G. Gil and Joseph S. Tulchin (eds), Spain’s Entry into NATO (Boulder, Col.: Westview Press, 1988). For the PCE’s position, see the special issue on ‘Spain and NATO’, ENDpapers Twelve (1986), pp. 34–65.Google Scholar
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    Maurice Duverger, the French political scientist elected to the European Parliament in 1989 as a candidate on the Italian Communist Party’s list, has argued that to abandon the communist label indicates a readiness to move beyond the constraints of a Marxist interpretation which originated in an analysis of nineteenth-century social developments. He also argues that the importance of the events of 1989 resides in the opportunity they have provided to establish a link between the two factions of socialism which have been separated since the 1920s. Duverger, ‘El vínculo, El País, 30 November 1990.Google Scholar
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    This was especially ironic, given that as leader of the PSOE Pablo Iglesias was notoriously loath to ally with any other political forces: from 1879 until 1909 the party refused all collaboration, remaining in splendid isolation until finally forced into an electoral pact with republicans in order to escape political marginalisation. See Paul Heywood, Marxism and the Failure of Organised Socialism in Spain, 1879–1936 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Julio Anguita interviewed in Cambio 16, 988 (29 October 1990), pp. 35–6.Google Scholar
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    For details, see El País, 25 November 1990.Google Scholar
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    El País, 25, 26 November 1990.Google Scholar
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    The pretext for Anguita’s resignation was an IU vote to allow the coalition’s various federations the right to form themselves into political parties, following the unilateral decision by Esquerra Unida in Valencia to do so. See Economist Intelligence Unit, Spain Country Report 1 (1992), p. 10.Google Scholar
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    El Mundo, 30 April 1992.Google Scholar
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    Semprún’s experiences as minister of culture provided the backdrop to his autobiographical volume, Federico Sánchez se despide de ustedes (Barcelona, 1993), a second volume of memoirs to follow up the remarkable Autobiografía de Federico Sánchez (Barcelona: Planeta, 1977), which covered his experiences as leader of the communist underground in Spain during the Franco regime.Google Scholar
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    Santiago Carrillo, interviewed in Cambio 16, 993 (3 December 1990). See also, El País, 23 February 1991.Google Scholar
  27. 30.
    For details, see Economist Intelligence Unit, Spain Country Report 1 (1991), pp. 7–9.Google Scholar
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    Francisco Palero Gómez, ‘La ruptura con la izquierda conservadura’, El País, 24 November 1990.Google Scholar
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    Luis Moreno, ‘Las fuerzas políticas españolas’, in Salvador Giner (ed.), España. Sociedad y Política (Madrid: Espasa Calpe, 1990), p. 306.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Heywood

There are no affiliations available

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