Podemos is already counting its chickens

Podemos party is crossing its bridges

IONE BELARRA: Social Rights minister and Podemos secretary general Photo credit: CC/Emiliano Garcia Page

PODEMOS became a force to be reckoned with in May 2014 after winning five seats in the European parliament.

The party was founded in January that year by Pablo Iglesias Turrion, not to be confused with Pablo Iglesias Posse who founded the Spanish Workers’ Socialist Party (PSOE) in 1879.

The latter-day Iglesias, with a PhD in Political Science, was famed for a lustrous ponytail and disparaging Spain’s principal political parties as The Caste for failing to represent the non-caste populace.

Following the December 2015 general elections, Unidas-Podemos (UP, an Izquierda Unida and Podemos alliance) prevented Pedro Sanchez and Albert Rivera  from forming a coalition government between the PSOE and now-defunct Ciudadanos in March 2016. Instead UP voted with the Partido Popular against Sanchez’s investiture.

In October 2016  Mariano Rajoy finally survived an investiture, thanks to the PSOE’s abstention and the temporary ousting of Pedro Sanchez as the party’s secretary general.

Fast forward to June 2017 when Unidas-Podemos backed Sanchez’s successful no-confidence motion against Mariano Rajoy’s government. Fast forward even further to the April 2019 general election when Sanchez needed UP to form a government.

Pablo Iglesias demanded so much that Sanchez mistakenly believed the PSOE could win more seats in a second election in November.  Instead, the party lost several.

Iglesias finally entered a PSOE-UP government as vice-president, with his partner Irene Montero as Equality minister and Ione Belarra as Social Rights minister. Izquierda Unida’s Yolanda Diaz was named Labour minister.

Iglesias resigned in 2021 to make an unsuccessful bid for the Madrid Community’s regional presidency after Isabel Diaz Ayuso (PP) dissolved the Assembly in 2021 following a breakup with Ciudadanos whose support she needed for an overall majority.

Ayuso was re-elected and Podemos, its star waning, trailed with 10 seats behind Vox’s 13. Yolanda Diaz took over as one of Spain’s several vice-presidents when Iglesias left the government, a situation that the Podemos leader later admitted regretting.

Irene Montero, meanwhile, is infamous for her “Only Yes Means Yes” sexual freedom law.  Despite its good intentions, nobody appeared to realise at the time that redefining sexual offences and their sentences would result in the early release of countless rapists and abusers.

Worse was to come for Podemos when Yolanda Diaz created Sumar, an alliance of parties to the Left of the PSOE, ready to stand in the general election planned for December this year but brought forward to July 23.

It was inconceivable that Podemos and Izquierda Unida would remain outside Sumar, but Montero and Ione Belarra, Podemos secretary general as well as Social Rights minister, demanded primaries before the May 28  municipal and regional elections.

Presumably they were hoping for leading roles but astute Diaz used delaying tactics, waiting to see how well or badly Podemos did.  It did badly and there was no more talk of primaries.

Podemos, which consistently over-estimates it own importance, has less power than it would wish inside Sumar. Undeterred, Belarra and Iglesias – who might have resigned from politics but is still very much in evidence – insist that Montero should repeat as Equality minister in the next PSOE government.

Several chickens need to hatch before that can happen and there’s no telling whether Montero and Belarra will ever sit down to a nice roast dinner.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.