Ten years ago Spain lived as the largest citizen movement known as the 15M since the beginning of its democratic history, and then reflected in other countries, such as Brazil or the United States, from which new political parties emerged, ending the two parties that had dominated until then.
The movement, also known as the “Indigenous”, was viewed with optimism by some, while for others it marked the prospect of change in the midst of a strong economic crisis hitting the country.
Until that moment and later, the left and right, represented by the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP), alternated in power, while other existing organizations had minimal parliamentary representation.
A decade later, one of the parties born out of those citizen demonstrations, the left-wing United v Cane, is a fundamental part of the current first Spanish coalition government, whose former leader Pablo Iglesias held one of the executive vice presidents until a few weeks ago.
For Carol Kallis, PhD and researcher in political science, 15M means “the emergence of a new generation of citizens who want to be more active in the public sphere”, and “the collapse of the established party system in transition.”
During the marches that unleashed identity camps in Puerto del Sol in Madrid and other squares in Spain, thousands of young people protested against the policies of the two parties, corruption, danger and exit from the crisis.
Wildfire and New York Citizens starred in popular “Occupy Wall Street” (Occupy Wall Street), such as “Josai 132” in Mexico or “New Debut (Night Standing)” in France.
For one of its most visible leaders, Fabio Kundara, 15M is a “movement of all kinds of people, open-minded, all-inclusive,” which created the “Citizens’ Debate Without Pre-Labels”.
Third cities on foot and especially a camping
Sites such as “Democracia Real Ya” or “Juventus Sin Futuro” concluded several hours after traveling across Spain on May 15, 2011, several hours later, with young people deciding to spend the night in Puerto del Sol, avoiding a match in the Spanish capital.
“There starts to be a reflection of solidarity when they leave the camp, they come back the next day and we are banned from protesting. That’s when the global response comes, the camps explode and the squares take their own lives,” Kundera recalls to EFE.
From that moment on, almost a month’s of citizen meetings, organizing and debating commissions began, which lasted until the Spanish general election on June 11 in the case of Madrid and Barcelona, which the right wins.
“I remember those days with a lot of joy and positive energy. I thought things could change if people joined,” Maria Fernandez, a Madrid University student at the time, told EFE.
Adrian Galero also remembers this, and thinks that it is necessary to return to that moment, and why unity was able to explode in terms of happiness, despite the anger behind it, and why not today.
We sleep, we wake up
“We slept, we woke up” was one of the movement’s greatest declarations throughout Spain, a popular awareness that arose against the abuses of established power.
In addition to the participation of Twicky Hirota, Alfonso Domingo, Andres Linares and Daniel Quinones in the 15M, it was clear that they wanted to document what was going on in the heart of Madrid and that they had taken that phrase as the title of their film.
“Initially there was a joy, but it was very small, with the expulsion, the press started, the support started because at that time we saw in fear that we would not even be able to meet to talk,” Hirota explains.
As for Quinos, the demonstrations in Spain left clear results beyond what United could do: “With the crisis we are currently experiencing, the response of governments and the EU is different. I think those protests have left a residue in Spain and elsewhere.”
End of left-right axis: bottom and top
One of the major distortions of the 15M was on the left and right axes. Then they started talking about those above – the powerful – those below – the general public.
“The good thing about 15M is that there are no flags. Not only from this crisis, but we are all going to have to accept a minimal common class to change this society,” Domingo shared.
Undoubtedly, this new axis was capitalized on by Pablo Iglesias’ party, which “rode the waves of anger against those above, elevated by a speech that at first seemed to transgress the left and the right, which can be described as populist,” says Kallis.
“In politics, on the right, he had a very clear influence on corruption, transparency, for the citizens. Program plans are scarce, there are many more to come, but progress has been made, changes that are difficult to apply immediately,” the Kundara Post said.