Communist Party of Spain

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The Communist Party of Spain (Partido Comunista de España or PCE) is the third largest political party of Spain. It leads the coalition Izquierda Unida (IU, United Left) and has influence in the largest union of Spain, Workers' Commissions (CC.OO.).

The first communist party in Spain, Partido Comunista Español (Spanish Communist Party) had been formed out of the Federación de Juventudes Socialistas (Federation of Socialist Youth, youth wing of PSOE). P.C. Español is constituted on April 15 1920. It started to publish El Comunista.

Partido Comunista Obrero Español (Spanish Communist Workers' Party) was founded on April 13 1921 by the terceristas, who had been trying to persuade PSOE to join Third International. When the PSOE congress decided to join the Vienna International instead of the Third International, the terceristas broke away and formed PCOE.

Partido Comunista de España was founded on November 14 1921 through an act of merger of Partido Comunista Español and Partido Comunista Obrero Español. The unified PCE became a member of the Third International. The first congress of PCE is held in Sevilla in March 1922. In its early days, PCE suffered severely from the repression of the dictatorship of general Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1930).

Thus, the PCE was in a very debilitated state when the Second Spanish Republic was proclaimed in 1931. On December 3 1933 the first PCE parliamentarian, Cayetano Bolívar Escribano, was elected. Bolívar was jailed at the time of elections and left imprisonment to occupy his post in the parliament.

PCE was a small party during the initial years of the Republic, until it began to grow due to the victory of the Popular Front (of which the Communists had been a constituent part) in February of 1936 and the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in July of that year. The PCE, directed by José Díaz and Dolores Ibárruri Pasionaria, worked constistently for the victory of the Republican forces and the Popular Front government, but was vary of left-adventurist trends which disrupted the Republican unity. Being a well-knit and highly disciplined organization, PCE could in spite of its numerical weakness play an important part in the war. In the first five months of the war, PCE grew from 30,000 members to 100,000. It also founded the Socorro Rojo Internacional, which aided the Republican cause considerably.

In 1936, due to the special political situation in Catalonia, Partit Comunista Català (the Catalan branch of PCE) is separated from the party to fuse with other socialists to form Partit Socialista Unificat de Catalunya. Since then PCE does not have an organization in Catalonia, but relies on a regional referrent party. This set-up has been imitated by many of the communist splinter groups in Spain.

After the Republican defeat in April of 1939, the PCE was persecuted by the dictatorship of general Francisco Franco (1939-1975), although maintained the best organization of the opposition inside Spain. During the initial years of the Franco regime, PCE organized guerrilla struggles in some parts of the country.

A large part of the party membership was forced into exile. Some PCE member went to the Soviet Union and fought as volunteers for the Red Army during the Second World War, such as General Enrique Lister. A large section of PCE members were based in France, were a major party organization was set up. During the later half of the Franco years, PCE changed its strategy and started organizing Workers' Commissions (CC.OO.) within the official trade union aparatus. CC.OO. and PCE gained strength and became the backbone of the opposition forces in the country.

Dolores Ibárruri, "La Pasionaria", replaced Jose Diaz as General Secretary in 1942, and held the position until 1960. Santiago Carrillo was General Secretary from 1960 to 1982. Carrillo put the party on a eurocommunist course, distancing it from its Leninist origins. Carrillo accepted concessions to the bourgeoisie, accepting the restoration of a liberal democracy and constitutional monarchy. The party was legalized on April 9, 1977 as one of the last steps in the transtion to democracy in Spain. Only weeks after the legalization, PCE had over 200 000 card-holding members.

But the concessions made by Carrillo and the socialdemocratization of the party under his leadership provoked dissent amongst party ranks. Several party militants left the party. Enrique Lister broke away in 1973 and formed Partido Comunista Obrero Español. Other groups that broke away were Partido Comunista de los Trabajadores (formed by the Left Opposition of PCE in 1977) and PCE (VIII-IX Congresos) (formed in 1971).

In the first elections after the transition in 1977, PCE obtained 10% of the votes and they got a similar result in 1979. In 1982, PCE suffered an electoral defeat. The electoral defeat and broad dissent amongst the party membership against Carrillo's social democratic path led to the removal of Carrillo from the party leadership. In 1985 Carrillo was expelled from the party.

In 1986, during the anti-NATO struggle, PCE and other leftist groups formed Izquierda Unida (IU). At the moment, the PCE has about 30,000 militants. From 1982 to 1988, the General Secretry was Gerardo Iglesias. Between 1988 and 1998, its General Secretary was Julio Anguita and since 1998 the post is held by Francisco Frutos, a member of the Cortes.

Notably PSUC, the Catalan referrent of PCE, did not reverse its eurocommunist course as PCE had done in 1982. Gradually PSUC and PCE grew apart. Finally PSUC decided to dissolve itself into Iniciativa per Catalunya and cease to function as a communist party. This provoked a minority to break-away and form PSUC viu (Living PSUC). Since 1998 PSUC viu is the referrent of PCE in Catalonia.

The youth organization of PCE is Unión de Juventudes Comunistas de España (Young Communist League of Spain). PCE publishes Mundo Obrero (Workers World) monthly.

PCE consists of 15 federations:

PSUC viu participates in PCE congresses, etc. as a PCE federation.

External links

See also: Politics of Spain</Table>es:Partido Comunista de España

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