Is Iglesias’ Leadership of Podemos Beginning to Unravel?
Podemos Leader Faces Challenging Times.
La izquierda alternativa desafía el plan de Iglesias para las generales
The Left Alternative challenges Iglesias’s plans for the General Election.
Reports El Paìs today – translated/adapted. (Hat-Tip to SH)
Under the name Ahora en Común, a group of the left of Podemos have, on Thursday, set in motion an initiative to promote “popular unity” for the general election, candidacies in the style of the’ ‘ciudadanas’ citizen-city lists (governing in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza. The platform, with the backing of Podemos office holders, Izquidra Unida (IU – united left, groups based on democratic communists and radical left socialist and green groups, formerly the largest left alliance in Spain) and those from these lists, is a setback to the strategy of Pablo Ingelisas , who wants the other forces of the alternative left to join behind him, under his “umbrella”, for the election. IU’s candidate, Alberto Garzón, whose own proposals for unity have already been rejected by Iglesias, has welcome the proposals.
The manifesto was signed by representatives of Podemos, candidates of “popular unity”, the United Left (IU) and Equo (Spain’s Greens). These include Jorge Suarez, mayor of Ferrol (Ferrol in Common), Isidro Lopez, deputy in the Assembly of Madrid, Diego Pacheco, a member of the regional management of the organisation in Madrid, Rosa Martinez, spokesperson for Equo, Pablo Carmona, Councillor for Ahora Madrid, Mauricio Valiente, former candidate of IU Madrid and Councillor also now Madrid, IU MEP Javier Couso or Eduardo Garzon, economist and brother of the candidate of the d’ederación de izquierdas’ (federation of the lefts), Alberto Garzón.
You can see the – growing – list of those backing Ahora en Común (Now, Together! ) here.
Iglesias’s response has been to say that he does not need unity between parties, but unity between people.
“El líder de Podemos afirma sobre la plataforma ciudadana que “la unidad popular no es la unidad de partidos, es la unidad de la gente”. (El Diario).
Presumably behind, himself, and his leadership of Podemos…..
…it didn’t take long to find accusations, discussed in Podemos itself, that Igelsiais appears “proud and arrogant, and who refuses to join with anybody else, even at the cost of losing votes”. “que parece arrogante y soberbio, que se niega a confluir con nadie aun a costa de perder votos. Beatriz Gimeno and Carmen San José. Mardid Assembly Councillors Podemos. (Viento Sur. – Left grouping part of Podemos)
These problems follow Podemos distancing from Greece’s Syriza. (Guardian 6th of July)
For the past year, they have positioned themselves as allied agents of a change sweeping across southern Europe.
On the face of it, Spain’s leftwing anti-austerity Podemos party should have been crowing at the landslide victory of the no vote in Sunday’s Greek referendum. But while Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias was quick to praise Syriza and Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras, his overriding message was a simple one – Spain is not Greece.
With a general election due in Spain by the end of the year, Iglesias, whose party made substantial gains in local elections earlier this year, was careful to mark the differences between the two countries, worried, analysts said, that any worsening of the situation in Greece could drive crucial middle-class voters away from his party.
“We have a great friendship with Syriza, but luckily, Spain is not Greece,” Iglesias told radio Cadena Ser. “We’re an economy with much more weight in the eurozone, we’re a country with a stronger administration and with a better economic situation. The circumstance are different and I think it makes no sense to draw parallels.”
Instead, Iglesias framed the referendum as a step forward for democracy in that the Greek people had finally been handed the power to decide on austerity measures. “It’s good news for Europeans and Greek citizens,” said Iglesias. “The people of Greece have said they want change, they support a government who says that things can be done in a different way.”
The referendum was a clear success for Tsipras, said political scientist Fernando Vallespín from Madrid’s Autonomous University. “The automatic assumption is that what is good for Tsipras is good for Podemos,” he said, but he feels it is too early to say whether that is the case, pointing to the efforts made by Iglesias to distance Spain from Greece. “I think Podemos is worried that the situation in Greece won’t get better.”
Reinforcing the differences between the countries dampens the idea of contagion, he said, and maintains the party’s appeal to moderate voters. The latest polls show Podemos is in a virtual tie with the governing People’s party and opposition Socialists.
Podemos must walk a fine line when it comes to Greece, said José Ignacio Torreblanca, the author of Asaltar Los Cielos, or Storm the Heavens, which explores the rise of Podemos. “On one hand it’s good news for them, because the message of the people having voted against austerity strengthens their message. The frame for them is fantastic because its the people against the troika, David against Goliath and the weak against the powerful,” he said.
The challenge, however, is then to distance themselves from any bad news emerging from Greece. “This is where the space opens for the People’s party and others to point to issues such as the queues for cash machine withdrawals. All of the parties have been trying to use Greece to their advantage.”
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