Thursday

23rd Feb 2017

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.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"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.

EU parliament approves Juncker commission

MEPs have approved Juncker's new EU commission, with a slightly smaller majority than in 2010, and following a number of concessions on portfolios.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  2. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  3. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  4. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  5. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  6. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  7. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  8. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  2. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  3. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  4. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  5. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  7. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  10. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  11. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe