For Spain's Podemos, People Take Priority Over Politics
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias wants to push "social emergency" law when parliament reconvenes January 13
The leader of Spain's left-wing Podemos party on Monday said his priority when parliament reconvenes in early January will be to help the poor—not to hash out internal power struggles among political parties.
This month's Spanish elections, in which anti-austerity Podemos picked up a surprisingly high 69 seats, "blew apart the cozy arrangement that has existed in Spain since the return to democracy in the late 1970s, which has allowed the right-wing Popular Party (PP) and the leftist Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) to swap power on regular occasions," Alistair Dawber wrote for The Independent on Friday.
"Thanks to [Podemos leader Pablo] Iglesias, neither party can now govern alone," Dawber explained. "If the two traditional parties can reach an agreement – and that is by no means likely – Podemos will emerge as the main opposition group in Spain. If a grand coalition does not work, there is a good chance Podemos, and Iglesias, will enter government as part of a leftist alliance. Either way, the man has already won, for he has changed Spain for good."
After meeting with acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Monday, Iglesias appears ready to shake things up even further.
According to Agence France-Presse, Iglesias "refused to talk of forming alliances" after the meeting.
"Instead," AFP reports, "he said the priority for Podemos when parliament reconvenes on January 13 will be to help the poor by proposing a 'social emergency' law that prevents families from being evicted for not paying their mortgage or ensures pensioners can buy their medicine."
Iglesias accused the Socialists—who say they will form an alliance with Podemos only if the party abandons its support for an independence referendum in the wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia—"of being more preoccupied with internal power struggles than with the interests of voters," AFP adds.
He also blasted Socialist party leader Pedro Sánchez, whom he noted "needed 20 minutes to say 'no' to Rajoy. I needed two."
According to The Spain Report, which covers Spanish news in English:
He repeatedly positioned Podemos in contrast to the Popular Party and PSOE as establishment parties: "This is not about talking about power but about the problems of Spain", and added [the center-right, business-friendly] Ciudadanos to the group.
"There is an immovable block of three that repeats old arguments and ignores inequality and corruption."
"We don't share any ideas of what Spain is", said Mr. Iglesias, adding that his conversation with Pedro Sánchez had been "very disappointing".
Weeks of uncertainty lay ahead. As the BBC explains, "next month King Felipe VI will seek to nominate a party leader for government, but that leader must then win a vote of confidence in parliament. If there is deadlock two months after that the king will call a fresh election."