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

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

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.

Party leader Pablo Iglesias coupled the announcement with a warning to the mainstream Socialist Party, saying he would only do a deal with them to unseat Rajoy’s minority right-wing government if they support a referendum too.

He knows the Socialists won’t — and that’s the point. Read more “Why Spain’s Podemos Now Supports Catalan Referendum”

Podemos Endorses Hard-Left Course of Leader Iglesias

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.

At a party congress in Madrid, Pablo Iglesias was reelected as leader with 90 percent support

His loyalists also retained 60 percent of the seats on the party’s leadership council while his policy platform was backed by 51 percent of members against 34 percent who voted for an alternative proposal introduced by Errejón. Read more “Podemos Endorses Hard-Left Course of Leader Iglesias”

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.

The outcome of the struggle in Podemos could have an effect on the Socialist Party contest later this year.

Sánchez in particular, who was the party leader until October — when he was forced out by regional bosses like Díaz — believes the Socialists must take the fight to the right in order to consolidate their left flank. Read more “Spanish Left Needs to Decide Between Power and Principle”

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 “Defeat Splits Podemos Between Moderates and Hardliners”

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.

She told me that the parties federated under the umbrella of United Left all have slightly different priorities, ranging from communist to feminist.

They are also based in different parts of Spain and this geographical dispersement matters.

The deal with Podemos would give the United Left one out of every six seats the alliance wins in parliament. But this does not include the Catalan, Galician and Valencian parties, Raquel points out, which account for about 40 percent of the total vote.

“The United Left will therefore end up holding little power in the coalition,” she says. Read more “Spanish Far Left’s Influence Could Be Limited in Coalition”

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 “Rajoy’s Left-Right Narrative Could Crush Socialists”

Far-Left Voters Reject Coalition in Spain

An overwhelming majority of Podemos supporters rejected a proposed Socialist Party-led government in Spain over the weekend.

Fewer than 150,000 Spaniards out of the five million who voted for the anti-establishment movement in December participated in an online referendum. But a convincing 88 percent sided with the party leadership to turn down the proposed coalition agreement, which would have seen Podemos throw its support behind the mainstream Socialists and the liberal Ciudadanos.

The two center-left parties are 47 seats short of a majority. Without the far left’s support, they would be unable to form a government. Read more “Far-Left Voters Reject Coalition in Spain”

Podemos Referendum Last Hope of Avoiding Elections

The anti-establishment Podemos party gave Spain a final hope of avoiding snap elections this week when it said it would ask supporters in a referendum if it should join other parties in supporting a coalition after all.

Podemos has so far balked at endorsing a proposed deal between the mainstream Socialist Party and the liberal Ciudadanos.

Pablo Iglesias and other party leaders said they would advice far-left voters against accepting the coalition agreement, making a reversal unlikely.

But unless Podemos budges, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which Spaniards do not return to the polls four months after electing a new parliament. Read more “Podemos Referendum Last Hope of Avoiding Elections”

Far Left Rejects Socialist-Led Government in Spain

Spain’s Socialist Party leader, Pedro Sánchez, fell short of the votes needed to become prime minister on Wednesday when both the far left and the outgoing People’s Party rejected him.

Sánchez formed a pact with the liberal Ciudadanos last week after no single party won a majority in the last election.

It is the first time since democracy was restored in Spain that the country needs a coalition government.

The Ciudadanos and the Socialists have 154 seats between them in the lower house of parliament where 176 are needed for a majority.

After losing the vote on Wednesday, Sánchez has one more chance: He is expected to return to the legislature on Friday and ask to form a minority government. That would only work if either the People’s Party or Podemos, an anti-establishment movement on the left, abstained. Read more “Far Left Rejects Socialist-Led Government in Spain”