The paper considers what it means to contest austerity and what political contestation of austerity says about how austerity as a political process should be conceived. It does so through separating a narrow view of austerity as fiscal consolidation from actually existing austerity as a broader political economic process ongoing in different ways in different countries. Through a case study of crisis, austerity and contestation as it relates to housing in Spain, the paper argues that to contest actually existing austerity it is necessary to contest both the wealth and power of the actors that have gained from austerity, not least finance capital. Through bank bailouts and the creation of a bad bank, the reforms demanded by the troika have opened up Spanish housing to direct wealth extraction by global finance capital whilst half a million households have been evicted and hundreds of thousands live with insurmountable debt. The Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH, Platform for the Mortgage-Affected) has contested austerity in Spanish housing by contesting finance capital through civil disobedience whilst campaigning for anti-austerity reforms to housing and mortgage legislation, aiming to limit how housing can be a sphere of wealth extraction for finance capital.
- Global Political Economy
- Social Movements