Podemos missed his chance to transform Spanish politics


It’s true, Podemos is applying our prescriptions four years late. That’s not a problem: it’s a classic political process to implement someone else’s proposals once you’ve dismissed them.

But the reason this is more than an irony from my personal experience is that these proposals are implemented after Spain has already changed. The balance of power is radically different from 2016. At the time, Podemos led the progressive camp and was the most powerful force in Spain with the town halls of many large cities: Madrid, Cadiz, La Coruña, Bilbao, Zaragoza, Barcelona , Valencia. . . We had the wind in our sails; it seemed clear that we were going to take power at some point. Moreover, the far right had not yet emerged, the PP was in a serious crisis because of its corruption cases and the national conflict between Catalonia and the Spanish state – helping to explain the subsequent rise of Vox – had not yet exploded in all its virulence.

In 2016, we negotiated almost on an equal footing with the PSOE, either for a government including Podemos, or dependent on its external support and conditioned by its pressure. There was always the feeling that we were booming, that our ideas were the ideas of Spain. But when a deal was struck four years later, it came after a notable erosion in the strengths of both signatories, and in particular that of Podemos, who had lost nearly half of his support and much of his intellectual, media and political leadership capacity. In the meantime, we have seen the rise of the far right and – with all repeated elections – some anti-politics. Superficially, it may seem like this is the same climate 15-M was born into, but it’s the opposite.

This government therefore emerged with a tactical objective: to stop the right. Understandable, but a much more reformist goal than in previous years. Our goal was to initiate a constituent process. In 2015 very radical goals were spelled out in very sweet words. The current Podemos have very soft goals with very radical words. He seeks to hold back the right with fiery speech and rhetorical and ideological demagoguery. This is essentially the reestablishment of the categories of bipartisanship who had governed Spain since the 1980s, that is to say not only two dominant parties but also a small party to the left of the PSOE.

My analysis of what the government is doing? He is halfway through the legislature and well placed to change course. But so far he has more in the debt column than his credit. He did not meet even a fraction of the expectations he had raised, despite receiving social support. Never as in times of pandemic have Spanish citizens understood that the common good exists and that a strong state is necessary, not only to pay debts and grant loans but also to intervene in the economy, to set a political horizon. and guarantee rights. In addition, it has the significant resources of European funds, with an expansion policy from Brussels, and the possibility of orienting them towards a change of model. And, above all, he has a parliamentary majority to do what he wants, like repealing the labor reforms that have made the Spanish labor market more precarious, ending the “gag law” which restricts basic assembly rights and expression, regulate the electricity market faced with the energy giants, etc.

But so far this government has not given its supporters much reason to defend it. He handled the pandemic in a more socially sensitive way than the PP would have. But that is not enough to keep him in office. It must produce real and profound transformations in the lives of citizens, so that they see that there is a substantial difference between the right and a progressive coalition in power. Today, most citizens view the news with immense emotional disenchantment. When this cynicism spreads that everything is a lie and the only truth is the “nature” of the market, it always translates into reactionary results.


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