Spanish Political Party “Podemos” Thwarts Socialist Party’s Attempt to Form Government

Pablo Iglesias, Leader and Founder of Podemos

Podemos meaning “we can” in Spanish is a left-wing populist party founded in March of 2014 who’s main goal is to fight against austerity, inequality, corruption, and the overall economic malaise seen after the 2011 and 2014 European debt crises. Podemos witnessed an incredible increase in members and success in elections very soon after its genesis. In 2014 the party won 8% of the votes for European Parliament and as of the elections of 2015 it is currently the third largest party in Spain. On the Podemos’ Official Website they list their ten main policy goals as followed:

  1. Guaranteed Income
  2. Progressive Reform
  3. National Plan for Energy Transition
  4. Plan for Equality and Social Welfare
  5. Guarantee of a quality pension system
  6. Decent work for all
  7. A new productive model
  8. Measures toward gender equality and integration into the workplace
  9. Public bank and financial regulation
  10. Restructuring the Spanish mortgage debt

In an article written in “The Local”, the author quotes Podemos party number two Íñigo Errejón when he says:

“We are not going to sign a blank cheque” for the Socialists

Errejón is refferring to the idea of giving Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez a vote of confidence in the upcoming vote. The first attempt a few days earlier failed miserably and there is not much hope that this attempt will succeed either. Not forming a coalition government with the more moderate socialists in Parliament poses a major problem for the function of the Spanish government, as it is currently in political limbo. If the parties cannot form a government by May 2nd there will be a new round of elections in late June to try to break the gridlock.

Emotions have been flying high in the Spanish government in Madrid, and in a show of spectacular political theater and exaggeration Podemos leader Pablo Igelsias jumped out of his seat to hug and kiss a Catalan ally who also supported his desire to resist a coalition with the Socialists. https://youtu.be/CPd3E8a_8CQ

Such a display is very typical of Iglesias’ style, who is notorious for being a dramatic and charismatic leader who never compromises on his ideals. This populist, anti-establishment attitude is a large part of the appeal of the Podemos Party as a whole, and compromising with the more moderate Socialist Party would risk popularity among their supports who elected Iglesias and other Podemos members to Parliament with a desire for them to stand strong against the establishment.

Podemos is certainly not the only grassroots political movement gaining recognition in recent years. One can look as far as the United States at the Tea Party Movement that sprung up during the 2010 midterm elections. This was also an anti-establishment movement that helped elect many candidates to Congress and although ideologically the Tea Party is the polar opposite of the radical socialist Podemos movement, the overall sentiment is very similar. Both movements can be viewed as successful because the Tea Party succeeded in electing a Republican majority House of Representatives that was able to gridlock Obama and the Democrats for the last 6 years of his presidency, and Podemos is currently shaking the foundation of Spanish politics and pulling it further left.

Image from American Tea Party rally in Washington

The recent explosion of social movements cannot be explained as random. In the West they can almost all be connected to the disillusionment with the current state of the global economy post Great Recession of 2008. Such movements should be taken seriously and seen as a sign that the average people in many countries are tired of the economic stagnation and corruption in government. This has led to a rise in support of more radical politicians and political parties, whether it be the increased support of nationalist and socialist parties in Europe or even in America, where men like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are gaining popularity as fairly extreme candidates for the presidency. The polarization and radicalness of these movements are tearing many governments apart at the seams and eventually something has to give. Large scale disillusionment can often lead to dangerous outcomes and it is yet to be seen whether the moderate political class will take any decisive action to either include these angry citizens or attempt to squash them.