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Spanish Shilling

Some stories and experiences after a lifetime spent in Spain

Podemos (No Podemos)
Thursday, December 14, 2023 @ 9:21 AM

 What a phenomenon Podemos has been! From nowhere to greatness and apparently back to nowhere in just ten years!

Founded by Pablo Iglesias – the university professor with the pony-tail and a Masters in both Arts and Humanities – together with some like-minded companions back in January 2014, the party won an astounding 71 seats in the 2015 general election. Later joining with Izquierda Unida and other far-left groups, Podemos soon became the particular target of far-right politicians, together with part of the Judiciary, the Church, the Establishment, and the majority of the Media. Whenever a reasonably plausible story could be fabricated against the party, it would receive major attention from all sides: both the concepts of fake-news (‘bulo’) and judicial manipulation (‘lawfare’) became mainstream instruments of attack thanks to the group.

Many of the early members of Podemos were to fall out with Iglesias – some starting their own parties and movements (it’s perhaps a common problem with the far-left) – and Iglesias’ popularity began to wane after he and his wife bought an expensive house in Galapagar – a smart area of Madrid. The perception being that long-haired lefties should live in a draughty garret somewhere in a working-class neighbourhood.

 Pablo Iglesias with his wife Irene Montero


Following the April 2019 elections, Podemos (67 deputies) failed to join the PSOE in a government, which meant fresh elections for November of that year, where a weakened Iglesias (now with 42 deputies) finally agreed to support Pedro Sánchez.

Iglesias himself left his post as vice-president in the Spanish government in March 2021 to run for the Madrid regional elections (May 2021) where Podemos fared badly. He left the party to work as a broadcaster, leaving things to his wife Irene Montero and the current party leader Ione Belarra. In the July 2023 elections, the party ran within the Sumar movement, polling just five deputies, and in early December they subsequently quit their affiliation with the left-wing alliance and moved – possibly as renegades (‘transfugas’) – to the non-aligned Grupo Mixto instead.

The third strike against the party came from the flawed ‘only yes means yes’ law of Irene Montero – Minister of Equality in the last government. Neither the PSOE nor Sumar wanted her to return as minister, and their offer to give a ministerial position to another Podemos member was rebuffed (the member in question, feeling humiliated by his own partners, promptly quit the group, as have several other leading Podemos members in the past week).

Podemos today, ten years after it bounded onto the political scene, appears to be close to the end of its time in the frontline of Spanish politics. An editorial in the left-wing says gloomily: ‘Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse’. As for Pedro Sánchez, he now has another minority group to appease during this political cycle. 

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