Spanish Left Pays Price for Choosing Purists Over Pragmatists

Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015
Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez wave at photographers before a meeting in Madrid, December 23, 2015 (PSOE)

Spain’s ruling People’s Party continues to fall in the polls. Its support is down from 33 percent in the last election to under 25 percent in most recent surveys. The reasons are corruption scandals and the ongoing Catalan independence crisis.

The liberal Citizens, who support — but are not a part of — Mariano Rajoy’s government, are up. Some polls even have them as the largest party of Spain. Their promise to clean up politics, and the hard line they have taken against the Catalan separatists, is resonating with center-right voters.

The left, El País points out, seems unable to exploit Rajoy’s unpopularity. Support for the mainstream Socialist Party is virtually unchanged at 20-22 percent. The far-left Podemos is down several points. Read more

Spanish Far Left Takes Rajoy to Task for Catalan “Repression”

Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias gives a speech in Vitoria-Gasteiz, June 21, 2016
Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias gives a speech in Vitoria-Gasteiz, June 21, 2016 (Podemos)

Pablo Iglesias, the head of Spain’s far-left Podemos movement, has criticized Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy for his handling of the Catalan separatist challenge.

In a series of tweets, Iglesias takes Rajoy and his government to task for their “fear of democracy”.

Defending Spain requires providing political solutions to historical problems. Prison and repression will only compound the problems.

Iglesias accuses Rajoy of aggravating support for independence by refusing to negotiate with the Catalans and argues that the only way out of the crisis is to let them vote. Read more

Why Spain’s Podemos Now Supports Catalan Referendum

Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias appears at an event in Málaga, May 17, 2014
Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias appears at an event in Málaga, May 17, 2014 (Cyberfrancis)

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

Podemos Endorses Hard-Left Course of Leader Iglesias

Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias speaks at a congress in Madrid, February 12, 2017
Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias speaks at a congress in Madrid, February 12, 2017 (Podemos)

On Saturday, I wrote that the smart thing for Spain’s Podemos party to do was embrace the pragmatic vision of its number two, Iñigo Errejón.

So of course they did the opposite the following day. Read more

Spanish Left Needs to Decide Between Power and Principle

Pablo Iglesias speaks at a Podemos rally in Madrid, Spain, May 22, 2015
Pablo Iglesias speaks at a Podemos rally in Madrid, Spain, May 22, 2015 (Maria Navarro Sorolla)

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

Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias gives a speech in Vitoria-Gasteiz, June 21
Spanish Podemos party leader Pablo Iglesias gives a speech in Vitoria-Gasteiz, June 21 (Podemos)

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

Alberto Garzón and Pablo Iglesias, the leaders of Spain's United Left and Podemos party, walk together in Madrid, May 9
Alberto Garzón and Pablo Iglesias, the leaders of Spain’s United Left and Podemos party, walk together in Madrid, May 9 (Podemos)

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