Why Spain’s Podemos Now Supports Catalan Referendum
Spain’s Podemos party has come out in favor of a Catalan independence referendum, making it the first major national party to break with the government of Mariano Rajoy on the issue.
The anti-establishment movement remains opposed to Catalan independence and argues that a referendum should not be legally binding, but the new policy is a win for Catalonia’s separatists all the same.
It’s probably not for them that Podemos has changed their minds, though. Read more
Spanish Left Needs to Decide Between Power and Principle
Spain’s two left-wing parties need to decide if they want to stick to their principles and keep their hands clean — or if they’re willing to make compromises in order to get into power.
At a party conference this weekend, members of the anti-establishment Podemos movement are asked to endorse one of two visions: either stay the hard-left course under Pablo Iglesias, the current leader, or switch to the more pragmatic policy of his deputy, Iñigo Errejón.
The mainstream Socialists face a similar choice in their leadership election. Patxi López and Pedro Sánchez advocate opposition to the minority right-wing government of Mariano Rajoy. Susana Díaz, the president of Andalusia, represents the moderate wing of the party, which argues against blowing up an accord that has kept Spain governable since October. Read more
Defeat Splits Podemos Between Moderates and Hardliners
Last week’s disappointing election result has exposed a fissure on the Spanish far left.
The debate is a predictable one: hardliners insist the Podemos alliance with the communist-led United Left wasn’t left-wing and principled enough; moderates recognize that it was perceived as too radical.
Preelection polls had shown Podemos surpassing the mainstream Socialists to become the biggest party on the left. But on election day, they got exactly the same number of seats as they did in December. The Socialists lost five but still came in second.
The outcome was especially bitter because Podemos had teamed up with the United Left in order to grow its parliamentary faction. It effectively lost seats, because the United Left’s were folded into Podemos. Read more
Spanish Far Left’s Influence Could Be Limited in Coalition
The likelihood that the far left will surpass the mainstream Socialists as Spain’s second largest party in the elections this weekend has brought international attention to the Izquierda Unida (United Left), a coalition of left-wing splinter parties that has joined forces with the anti-establishment Podemos. Polls suggest they could get a quarter of the votes combined.
The United Left hasn’t played much of a role in Spanish politics so far. To learn more about it, I asked Raquel Perez, the editor of The ANC-USA Weekly, which summarizes international news on Catalonia, about the influence it might have. Read more
Rajoy’s Left-Right Narrative Could Crush Socialists
Spain’s ruling conservatives appear to have decided that the way to win back their majority in June is to lure right-wing voters away from the liberal Ciudadanos, who won forty out of 350 seats in the last election.
A campaign video released this week contrasts “the hope of moderate Spain” with the emergence of “an extremist alternative” that, according to People’s Party leader and caretaker prime minister Mariano Rajoy, would threaten the nation’s economy and its very unity.
The “extremist alternative” refers to the anti-establishment movement Podemos, which recently entered into a pact with the communist-led United Left. It rejects austerity in favor of stimulus and a redistribution of wealth, to be financed by higher taxes and the nationalization of industries.
The parties also support an independence referendum in Catalonia, something Rajoy has blocked since he came to power in 2011.
Polls suggest that the combined far left could push the mainstream Socialists into third place — and the conservatives hope that prospect will put a scare in centrist voters. Read more