PODCAST | We Need to Talk about Spain

FoD-blockNEWorangeThis is part of the Festival of Democracy 2015


  • Special guest Francisco Jurado Gilabert
  • Professor Simon Tormey, University of Sydney

On the 15th May 2011  Spain was convulsed by one of the most extraordinary popular uprisings in the history of any advanced democratic society. Up to 8 million Spanish citizens took part in the occupation of squares and public buildings in 60 towns and cities across the country. The movement of “the Indignados” (or “pissed off”) was born. The Spanish had much to be pissed off about: recession, high unemployment, endemic corruption, croneyism, failed “mega-projects”, high government and local authority debt and much else besides. With both major political parties complicit in this state of affairs, the  occupation of public space was arguably a necessary antidote to the ‘business as usual’” mantra offered by the mainstream media.  15M, as this event became known, demonstrated the power of an ICT enabled citizen protest politics to set in train the search for a new politics that could break the logjam. Since 2011 Spain has witnessed a quite  extraordinary period of political experimentation. Many new initiatives have been created, together with new political parties designed to build on the legacy of 15M. The most notable of these has been Podemos (“we can”)  created in early 2014 to contest the European elections. It polled 9% of the popular vote with very little time for preparation, giving it 5 seats in the  European Parliament. But Podemos’ rather populist approach has left space for other kinds of confluence and alliance based parties to do well.  In the municipal elections of  May 2015 structures such as these succeeded in winning the elections in Madrid and Barcelona, with the result that two radical mayors, Manuela Carmena and Ada Colau, now run the two largest cities in Spain. Looking ahead, the Spanish general election is scheduled for the end of the year.  This will show in clearer terms the state of play between these various initiatives and the political mainstream. Will we see a Spanish “Syriza” emerge victorious? Or has the rage now subsided to the point where “normal” politics is restored?

Francisco Jurado GilabertSpecial guest Francisco Jurado Gilabert

Francisco Jurado Gilabert is a columnist for Eldiario, and a lawyer and researcher at the Institute of Government and Public Policy (IGOP) of the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. He is specialised in the fields of technopolitics, legislative processes and representation.  He is an activist vitally involved in the movements that have characterised the Spanish body politic since 15 May 2011: Democracia Real Ya, #OpEuribor and Democracia 4.0. He is author of the book “Nueva Gramática Política” “New Political Grammar” (Icaria, 2014) and a member of the parliamentary group of Podemos in Andalucía.

simon-tormeySimon Tormey 

Simon Tormey is a political theorist and Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. Prior to his appointment at Sydney in 2009 he was Professor and Head of the School of Politics and International Relations and founding Director of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) at the University of Nottingham UK. He was educated at the University of Wales, Swansea receiving his doctorate in 1991. He was a Research Scholar and Lecturer at the University of Leicester before joining Nottingham in 1990. In 2005 he was awarded a personal chair (‘professorship’) in Politics and Critical Theory. His work has been translated into Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Turkish, Polish, Italian, French, Hungarian and German. His current writing project concerns the contemporary crisis of representative politics, and whether this presages the onset of new styles of modes of mobilisation, organisation or governance. Simon is co-editor of ‘Reappraising the Political’ a monograph series with Manchester University Press (with Jon Simons – Indiana). For many years he was an editor of Contemporary Political Theory, one of the leading theory journals in the world.