All of a sudden, cyberactivists discovered that there are people beyond the social media and that the analog vote counts as much as the digital. It is alright to discover that politics is not the art to do what you want but what you can given the resources that you count with and the enemies that you face. In this confusion between desires and reality, I think that the ideological significance of “Santiago and at them, Spain!” has been downplayed.
The rocky path of the seven million votes for PP is shaped by Spanish nationalism and Catholic faith, or, by islamophobia for nonbelievers. These two topics are profoundly uniting the right, but fracturing the left. In Andalusia or in Castilla-La Mancha, leftists who feel part of a single-nation and Catholic Spain are abundant. During a long period of time, PSOE knew it had to cope with an unstable balance. On the one hand, the younger and urban part, clearly secularist, on the other, the older part and the South, more Catholic. On the one hand, the centralism of “Castilians”, on the other, the peripheral nationalisms.
Unidos Podemos succeeded in attracting one important part of the old federalist and secularist PSOE vote. The question is whether the overtaking of PSOE is possible in the future without the incorporation of Spanish nationalists and Catholics. Errejón’s post-marxist analysis goes, according to my point of view, to the right direction. According to this analysis, it is the discourse that sets up political identities. And identity is clearly generated through contest. When the opposition uses the “those below versus those on top” argument, it activates the discourse of the few bad against the many good people, in which everyone fits.
However, the left went to these elections with a discourse of the right against the left, with stale slogans for the majority of voters, and in alliance with a systemic party (let us remember how Cayo Lara was shouted down during activities organised by 15M or the protests by Communists at the demos). Instead of carrying on playing with the “empty and transversal meanings”, they pulled Anguita out of the dusty closet. That was great for evoking the convinced ones and ideal for scaring the lukewarm ones. We cannot know what would have happened if, instead of returning to the old game of the right against the left, they had continued with their intention to break the game and play with the old versus the new.
Given the Spanish society’s ideological fractures, the hegemony of the left goes through knowing how to do what PSOE did in its good times: deactivating the religious and national questions and activating the issue of redistribution and amplification of rights. Less identity struggles, more economic and political equality.