Spain: Taking back the city
For the last several years, Spain has been a laboratory for bottom-up organisation and empowerment. The 15M movement that began in 2011 not only managed to set the political agenda by framing the euro crisis and austerity as contrary to democratic principles, but also generate countless neighbourhood assemblies and amplify pre-existing assembly-based movements, such as the multicoloured mareas (tides) for social rights and the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (the PAH or Mortgage Victims’ Platform). However, the ability of these movements to gather support from the vast majority of the country’s population did not translate to much in the way of institutional change, despite their efforts to use all of the formal mechanisms at their disposal. As people grew increasingly frustrated with the indifference of the political class, many began to perceive an institutional glass ceiling. Thus, 2014 saw the emergence of new electoral experiments that not only spoke the language of the post-2011 social movements, but also contained some of their most familiar faces. This is especially true in the case of Guanyem (Catalan for “Let’s Win”) Barcelona and Ganemos (Spanish for “Let’s Win”) Madrid, municipal candidacies composed of prominent activists, community organisations and some political parties, which seek to activate citizen control in Spain’s two largest cities through a bottom-up politics of proximity and direct democratic practices. Radical Democracy: Reclaiming the Commons will document this process as experienced by the ordinary citizens it engages.