Week 52: Hero – Podemos

by Jackie_South on December 29, 2015

Spanish heroThis week, the Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos win our Hero award

Last week’s Spanish general election saw an inconclusive result. The conservative (and successors to Franco’s fascists) People’s Party, in power since 2011 with a sizable majority, lost over a third of both its support and its seats. The other major party of post-Franco politics, the Socialist Party, also lost support and seats. Unless the two end up doing a deal together (something that the Socialists have already ruled out) neither can form a government with the support of just one other party.

I’ll post separately on the outcome in more detail, but the story of the election is of a third of the Spanish electorate losing faith with its traditional parties (the United Left, formally its third party, also lost ground) and opting instead for two brand new ones: the anti-austerity left party Podemos and the centrist Citizen’s Party. It was Podemos that did more spectacularly well: securing 21% of the vote (only 1% behind the Socialists) and picking up 69 seats.

The rise of Podemos has been staggering. The party did not exist two years ago: it came out of the anti-corruption and anti-austerity protests against the current government and the previous Zapatero socialist administration, and has pitched itself to the sizable group in Spain who rejected the austerity of both parties and yet could not side with the communist-dominated United Left. Led by Pablo Ingesias, a pony-tailed academic in his thirties, the party topped the ballot in Catelonia and the Basque Country and coming a strong second in the Balearics, the Canaries, Navarre and the Valencia region. They also came second in Galicia and Madrid, doing particularly well in the western half of the former region, usually a right-wing stronghold.

We do not yet know who will form the next government, but the old hegemony of the pro-austerity, corrupt parties that have run the nation since Franco is broken. Well done, Podemos.

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