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Communist Party of Spain
Partido Comunista de España
Secretary-General José Luis Centella
Founded 1921 (1921)
Headquarters C/Olimpo 35, Madrid
Ideology Communism, Eurocommunism
International affiliation None
European affiliation Party of the European Left
European Parliament Group European United Left-Nordic Green Left
Official colours Red
Politics of Spain
Political parties

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

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




Initial establishment

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 the PSOE). P.C. Español was established 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 the PSOE to join the Third International. When the PSOE congress decided to join the Vienna International instead of the Third International, the terceristas broke away and formed PCOE.

The 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).

After some inner party fighting, pro-Moscow direction emerged as victorious and began to determine the party line. The Catalan-Balearic Communist Federation (FCCB) broke away from the party in 1930. FCCB came associated with the International Right Opposition, and would later provide the backbone for the Workers and Peasants Bloc (BOC).

Communist Party of Spain

Spanish Civil War
Popular Front

PCE federations
Mundo Obrero - CC.OO.
United Left
European Left

Dolores Ibárruri
Enrique Líster
Santiago Carrillo
Julio Anguita
Francisco Frutos

Politics of Spain
Political parties in Spain
Elections in Spain

World Communist Movement

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.

Popular Front and Civil War

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 1936 and the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in July of that year. The PCE, directed by José Díaz and Dolores Ibárruri (known popularly as La Pasionaria), worked consistently for the victory of the Republican forces and the Popular Front government, but was wary of the popular social revolution that was being waged by Spanish workers. The communists have also been seen as one of major factors behind the 1937 May events in Barcelona, when anarchists' and POUM were violently suppressed with many imprisoned.

The PCE thus helped the republican government to violently suppress the Spanish Revolution, which the PCE saw as something that could have discredited the anti-fascist forces. 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 a Spanish branch of the International Red Aid, which assisted the Republican cause considerably.

Civil War poster

In 1936, due to the special political situation in Catalonia, Partit Comunista de Catalunya (the Catalan branch of PCE) was 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 referent party. This set-up has been imitated by many of the communist splinter groups in Spain.

Resistance and Reorientation

After the Republican defeat in April 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.

From the signing of Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to German assault on the USSR on June 22, 1941, Spanish communists pursued neutralist policies with regards to Germany's aggression against Poland and France, regarding the war as imperialist and unjust. Much like the identical positions of other Moscow-directed Stalinist parties, this position was changed immediately after Germany invaded the USSR.

A large part of the party membership was forced into exile. Some PCE members went to the Soviet Union and fought as volunteers for the Red Army during the Second World War, such as General Enrique Lister. There were still others, though, who fell victim to Stalin's permanent purges. 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 apparatus. CC.OO. and PCE gained strength and became the backbone of the opposition forces in the country.

Dolores Ibárruri, "La Pasionaria", a dedicated follower of consequent Comintern policies, 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. This was regarded by many as a treason, for these concessions were made to the exploitators. The party was legalized after the January 1977 Atocha Massacre, on April 9, 1977 as one of the last steps in the transition to democracy in Spain. Only weeks after the legalization, PCE had over 200 000 card-holding members.

Transition to Democracy

But the concessions made by Carrillo (labelled 'revisionist' by his orthodox communist opponents) and the social democratization 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 more radical left-wing 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).

PCE sticker

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 Secretary 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.

Currently, Communist Party of Spain holds ties with Communist Party of China, Communist Party of Cuba and Workers' Party of Korea.

Notably PSUC, the Catalan referent 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 45% minority to break-away and form PSUC viu (Living PSUC). Since 1998 PSUC viu (EUiA) is the referent of PCE in Catalonia.

Federations of PCE

PCE consists of 15 federations:

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

See also

External links


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