From the TUC

Spanish unions demand referendum on balanced budget law

02 Sep 2011, by in International

The main Spanish union confederations (CCOO, UGT and USO) have called major demonstrations in Madrid, Barcelona and other major cities on Tuesday 6 September, demanding a referendum on a new measure supported by the Governing  socialists in the PSOE and its right-wing opposition.

They are proposing a new constitutional amendment requiring balanced budgets as a way to ‘regain the confidence of the markets’. But the unions – and over a hundred civil society organisations – argue that what the markets really want is growth, and that growth is the only way to restore the public finances – exactly what the TUC has been arguing in Britain.

In a statement issued by CCOO today, they say that the constitutional reform is based on the wrong diagnosis of the problem: “the recent turmoil in the stock markets and in the debt markets has been caused mainly by the sharp fall of the growth rates of the European and US economies in the second quarter of the year”, and the statement goes on:

“This procyclical reform does not help reducing public deficit levels at all. The latter can only be tackled if the economic and social development of a country is not seriously impaired. Economic growth and employment have to be promoted, a fair sharing of the burdens of a now permanent crisis has to be ensured, and there has to be a greater rigor in the use of public spending.”

A referendum requires the support of 10% of MPs or senators, and the unions already have the support of the United Left, a Green Party called EQUO and the left wing nationalist parties of Catalonia and Galicia.

There is much, much more on the CCOO and UGT websites – and you can click the translate button to see what they are saying in English!

2 Responses to Spanish unions demand referendum on balanced budget law

  1. Chris2
    Sep 4th 2011, 3:03 am

    Of course the call for a referendum is worthy of support. But there is no need to be defeatist about the proposal to balance budgets. What a balanced budget does is to enforce priorities and to free the people from the grip of usurers.

    Who could not balance the national budget?
    Firstly by putting an end to the featherbedding of special interests (consultants and contractors for example) then by putting an end to “Defence” expenditures which are in fact subsidies for imperialism and finally by introducing both wealth taxes and, through the nationalisation of industry, seizing profits and using them for social purposes.

    Socialists should take this proposal and run with it, tying it into an equitable adjustment of the National Debt, taxing interest payments at a very high rate and repaying principal in national currencies, auditing the Debt, and combining a Guaranteed Annual Income with progressive taxation.

    Deficits have been used, over the years, to give veto power to money lenders while milking working class people to pay interest on money that is only borrowed because those lending it are not paying taxes. At the same time they have allowed imperialists instant access to public funds whenever the notion of a new criminal adventure crosses their twisted minds. Any Audit of the Debt ought to begin by ring fencing moneys borrowed to finance illegal wars: why should those lending and thus enabling criminals not be made to suffer for their misdeeds?

  2. Owen Tudor

    Owen Tudor
    Sep 4th 2011, 8:56 am

    Chris, I don’t think the Spanish unions are opposed to balanced budgets per se, for some of the same reasons as you suggest. Left of centre leaders like Clinton and Brown aimed for balanced budgets (Clinton in response to ballooning Republican-led deficits – when the right was slightly less fastidious about ‘fiscal rectitude’ – Brown over the economic cycle – pretty much standard Keynesianism).

    But the Spanish unions are against a constitutional requirement to balance the budget because it restricts the democratic freedom of elected governments – and in the current political and economic situation it would lead to cuts in public services and reduced domestic demand.