Spain: Greek effect drives Podemos away from government

Drop in polls after Tsipras gave in to EU and internal squabblin

21 July, 15:41

    Leader of Spanish party Podemos (We Can), Pablo Iglesias Leader of Spanish party Podemos (We Can), Pablo Iglesias

    (by Francesco Cerri)

    MADRID - The dream of raising to power seems to be drifting away from the Spanish version of the Syriza party after Brussels halted Greece in spite of the fact that the no vote (Oxi!) won in a referendum. The movement of Pablo Iglesias, the professor with a ponytail, is now a collateral victim of the Greek debacle. A survey published by Abc four months after political elections at the end of November gave Podemos only 15% of the would-be vote, far behind the PP of Premier Mariano Rajoy, at 29.1%, and the PSOE of Pedro Sanchez at 25.5%. It also had a minor lead over the other 'new' party, Albert Rivera's Ciudadanos, at 12.1%. A month ago, the PP, PSOE and Podemos had achieved a 'technical draw' between 20% and 23%.

    Iglesias is paying the price for the constant changes he has been forced to undertake over his stance on Tsipras. Podemos backed the 'no' to the referendum, denouncing the ''financial terrorism'' of the Troika. But then it justified the humiliating 'yes' uttered by Tsipras in front of the diktats imposed by the Eurogroup, giving up on part of its national sovereignty, the new cure which will imply harsh austerity measures and cannot be sustained according to many economists. In the end, Iglesiassaid he would also have voted yes had he been Greek, immediately adding however that ''Spain is not Greece''. Meanwhile Rajoy has deployed his 'heavy artillery' to slam queues at cash machines in Athens, pensioners who were left with no pension as well as the humiliation suffered by the entire country - which would ''have returned to grow'' without Syriza - due to the lack of responsibility of ''populist'' leaders.

    In Spain as well, warned Rajoy, things could go in the same direction if the Socialists and Podemos end up in the government in November.

    Tsipras in a recent interview said he wishes Podemos will win the election in Spain because this ''could change Europe'' but the hypothesis seems to be moving further away for now.

    After triumphing in municipal elections at the end of May, winning in Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza, Podemos is experiencing ''its most difficult hours'', according to Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia.

    The party is divided over the centralism imposed by Iglesias, who has promoted a system of primaries to appoint the candidates running in national elections that favors lists presented by the central direction rather than those of grassroots members from various regions. Such a ''dedazo'' (imposition from above)also enables to choose 'decoy candidates' outside the party, which has sparked revolts and resignations in Galicia, Catalonia, the Balearic islands and Andalusia. ''There is more democracy in the PP'', protested Enric Martinez, spokesman for Podemos Unidos, the internal faction criticizing the centralism of Iglesias and his 'clan somosaguas'. ''Podemus is burning'', warned the weekly Tiempo. And the internal dissatisfaction adds up to the scarce results so far reached by city councils led by Podemos in Barcelona and Madrid, where the mayor Manuela Carena has found nothing better that approving the web page Version Original to 'correct', 'censor' according to oppositions and journalists, information published by the media that are not approved by the municipal government, causing suspects and controversies.(ANSAmed)

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