Sunday

17th Feb 2019

Focus

New Spanish party wants to turn indignation into political change

  • Pablo Iglesias presenting Podemos in January Madrid (Photo: Jairo Vargas)

A new political party that has emerged from Spain's protest movement, los Indignados, is running in the upcoming European elections. Named Podemos, which means "We can" in Spanish, its founders say they want to convert indignation into political change.

Spain has been hard hit by the economic crisis since a housing bubble burst more than five years ago. While ordinary people have been suffering from public sector austerity, unemployment and house evictions, the ruling class has been mired by corruption scandals.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

"It is crucial that ordinary people engage in politics. Because when the others [the political elite] are doing it, they are robbing us of democracy, our rights, and even our wallets," says the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias.

He sees the European Parliament as a good place to join forces with other southern European countries going through painful austerity measures and to start "a cycle of democratic transformation in Europe".

"A large part of the decisions that affect the life of people are taken at EU level. This is an adequate platform for the southern Europeans to tell the European Central Bank, the troika, Merkel that we are fed up, that we don't want to be governed by corrupt politicians and we don’t want to be a colony."

Iglesias says the problem is not the European Union as such, but the European institutions.

"The European Parliament is the only ​​democratically elected institution and it has very limited powers. Moreover, the MEPs are under the influence of lobbies that nobody has voted for. European Institutions mustn't be in the service of financial powers, but in the service of people," he says.

Podemos, which was officially announced as running in the EP elections on 29 April, has generated enormous enthusiasm in Spain. The party collected 50,000 signatures of support within 24-hours and their website crashed due to traffic overload after the project was made public in February.

The EU electoral system means that, unlike in Spain's general elections, small and medium-size parties have a good opportunity to turn their votes into seats in parliament.

Still, the country's two big parties, the ruling centre-right People's Party and the Socialists, are likely to win most of the 64 seats reserved for Spain. Almost a month before the elections, opinion polls are not giving much chance to Podemos, which is competing with better established small left-wing parties.

However, Podemos says in its manifesto that "a spark of hope is enough for Spaniards to escape the trap of despair". After testing the ground in the European elections, the party is ready to run in Spain's municipal, regional and general polls next year.

Spain's EP election campaign kicks off

Small predominantly left-wing parties look set to take EP seats from Spain's governing Partido Popular and the opposition socialists. Nevertheless the two main political players are likely to retain some 30 percent of votes each.

EUobserved

When two worlds collide

Two worlds collided at the end of last week. The shrill, uncompromising one of British politics and the technocratic, dry, world of the European Commission.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  2. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  4. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  7. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”

Latest News

  1. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  2. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  3. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK
  4. Belgian spy scandal puts EU and Nato at risk
  5. EU Parliament demands Saudi lobby transparency
  6. Saudi Arabia, but not Russia, on EU 'dirty money' list
  7. EU agrees draft copyright reform, riling tech giants
  8. Rutte warns EU to embrace 'Realpolitik' foreign policy

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us