Municipal city council members and social movements across Spain call for the creation of a municipalist front against illegitimate debt and austerity
• More than 100 people representing more than 30 municipalities and social movements met in Barcelona.
• “The way to fulfil our obligations is to skip the spending rule battling until the last stand” Carlos Sanchez Mato, councillor of Economy and Finance of the City Council of Madrid.
• “We need to create a municipalist front to walk towards non-payment of debt”, Ruben Rosón, Councillor for Economy of the City Council of Oviedo.
Barcelona, October 15th – The #AuditFest meeting, held on the 14th and 15th of October in Nau Bostik, Barcelona, gathered more than a hundred people including local elected officials, municipal technical staff and social movements’ activists, from more than thirty municipalities in the Spanish state. The success of the conference, organised by the Citizen Debt Audit Platform (PACD), forced the closure of the registration period several days before the event.
The main conclusion of the conference was the proposal to increase efforts and resources to help coordinate the construction of joint strategies among municipalities. In this sense, the creation of a municipalist front to fight against the payment of illegitimate and illegal debts has been proposed, using tools such as citizen municipal debt audits. A common municipalist strategy that opposes the austerity imposed by the central government, prioritising peoples’ rights and social policies.
During the conference, the difficult situation in which many municipalities are in across the state became evident; it is the result of many years of mismanagement and corruption, that have led to the accumulation of illegitimate debt and the deployment of a legislative corset from the central government which has reduced municipal autonomy to the minimum (with the budget stability Law -or LRSAL-, also known as the Montoro Law). Faced with these difficulties, councillors, technical staff and activists have shared proposals and initiatives that are being developed in different municipalities. They shared strategies ranging from the deployment of citizen debt audits, management of public expenditure, strategies to promote citizen participation, transparency and accountability, to strategies for the judicial fight against corruption.
Over the more than 10 workshops held during the conference, initiatives around promoting a fairer local taxation, promotion of social clauses in public procurement processes or the municipalisation of public services have been addressed. Participants included Councillor for Economy and Finance of the City of Madrid, Carlos Sanchez Mato; Councillor for Economy, Finance, Debt and Public Safety of the City of Cadiz, David Navarro; Councillor for Economy and Employment of the City of Oviedo, Ruben Rosón; the Councillor of the City of Seville, Julian Moreno; or the Councillor of Finance in the City of Badalona, José Téllez. Different social movements and platforms also participated; the citizen initiatives of Madrid Audits Madrid and Audit HealthCare (Madrid), the Platform for Fair Taxation, Terrassa’s Solidarity Economy Network (XES) or the 15MPaRato campaign.
These two days ended with a plenary meeting at which the political and necessary organisational strategies were discussed and decided to promote a municipalist front, not only of municipalities but also of social movements, to coordinate the fight against Debtocracy and austerity from the local sphere. The Councillor for Economy and Employment of Oviedo, Ruben Rosón, stressed the importance of creating this network to work together not only in identifying and denouncing illegitimate debts, but also “to make way for legislation changes”. Elected officials and municipal technical staff involved in the #AuditFest agreed on the need to address the reversal of the Montoro Law and the Law on Budgetary stability, which the Councillor of Economy, Finance, Debt and Public Safety of the City of Cadiz, David Navarro, called “fetter laws”. Pilar Castillejo, Councillor in Ripollet’s City Council, said that for municipalities to have financial independence “it is necessary not only to change these regulations, but to flip the board of municipal finance”.
Participants arranged to continue working in coordination. From the Citizen Debt Audit Platform, the conclusions of the meeting will be evaluated in the coming weeks, with the aim of proposing concrete actions that lead to the effective creation of a municipalist front against illegitimate debt and austerity.
Next steps of the have been a meeting in Oviedo, following the “Manifiesto de Oviedo“, where the front’s strategy was further worked on producing a calender that will coordinate municipalities and social movements:
and a workshop at the Mak2 event “Municipalism, self-government and counter-power” that will take place in Pamplona-Iruña on January 20th-22nd.