What the US Can Learn From the May 24 Electoral Victory in Spain

05/28/2015 12:06 pm ET | Updated May 27, 2016

The tsunami of popular outrage and indignation that in May 2011 led to the take-over of parks across Spain, sparking a worldwide movement made famous by Occupy Wall Street, has done it again this time at the polls, upending that nation's corrupt two-party system, opening the doors of democracy to the poor, the humble, the voiceless victims of the merciless austerity measures, the 99%.

And as was the case in the 2011 mass mobilizations, this major electoral victory is rich with lessons for people who seek social justice in the US.

Spain's May 24 vote was a major embarrassment for the two ruling parties -- the Popular Party (PP) and the Socialist Workers Party of Spain (PSOE) -- that in a Tweetledum-Tweetledee fashion have shared power since the death of fascist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975.

Some 22.5 million Spaniards elected the local and regional goverments of 13 communities and 8,119 city halls.

PP and PSOE ended 3 million votes short from their showing in 2011.

This election could be seen as a dress rehearsal for the November general election when the nation's next president will be elected.

A mosaic of coalitions that grouped activists from the movements against austerity, against corruption, the ecologists, trade unions, community organizations, health care workers, scored big across the nation, including the posts of mayors of Madrid and Barcelona.

Worth noting was the performance of Podemos, unknown in in 2014, and came out of the elections as the third political force in Spain. In the traditional right left scheme, Podemos would rank towards the far left but there is nothing traditional about Podemos.

Podemos now houses many of the 15-M activists that poured to the streets and plazas in 2011.

They have combined participation in the electoral process with marches, demonstrations and direct action. Case in point: Ada Colau, the future mayor of Barcelona and the first woman to hold that post, was the leader of a movement against the "desahucios", bank-ordered evictions of tenants unable to meet their mortgage obligations.

Such movements have been fueled by a major economic crisis with unemployment rates bordering 24%.

This brutal crisis, while a tone-death government presided one corruption scandal after another, involving the royal family, president Mariano Rajoy's inner circle, and the loyal PSOE opposition.

Just as the Occupy Movements in the US learned from the occupations in Spain, that Sunday election results could point the way forward. From them we can learn the importance.

Independent political action: The Spanish victory is directly linked to the realization that voting for those who've caused the crisis in the first place is counterproductive.

Coalitions are key to success: Activists against police brutality, for immigrant rights, for the minimum wage, against mass and unjust incarceration of minorities, for health benefits, against cumbersome educational loans and lots more issues affecting communities across this country can only strengthen by working together toward change.

The need to reach out: Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, in his may 20 speech closing the campaign in Zaragoza extended his arm to people who've historically voted for the PP and the PSOE: "It's time for you to come home", he said reminding them that the parties that represent the rich do not defend the needs of the rest.

As Occupy Wall Street taught us, in what's a brilliant lesson in mass communication, there's a great schism across our nation: the 99% and the 1%.

And last I checked, the gap was unbridgeable.

Democrats and Republicans have more in common with the 1% than the 99%. Time and again, they have voted for cuts, for wars, for rewards to the very rich; they sit at the heads of corporations that benefit from wars and from destroying our environment; they give priority to profits over human needs.

And those democrats like Bernie Sanders, speak for change, against privilege and corruption, greed and callousness, by remaining in one of the parties that created the problem lose all credibility.

As with Spain, there's ample indignation in our nation and a profound distrust of where things stand.

Perhaps is time to channel that energy and boot our the rascals who've held power to the detriment of democracy.

Maybe we can do it the Spanish way.

Barcelona future mayor Ada Colau arrested as part of the anti eviction movement


VIDEO: Podemos charismatic leader Pablo Iglesias closes campaign in Zaragoza