Spain’s populist surge

Podemos (“We can”), a populist party formed just over one year ago, has gained a huge following in Spain. Tobias Buck, Madrid bureau chief for the Financial Times, provides a full report, with profiles of secretary-general Pablo Iglesias and other party leaders.

Podemos, like Syriza in Greece, sees itself above all else as an anti-establishment party: it rails against the corruption of Spain’s political elite, calls for an end to austerity and promises to restore dignity to the millions of Spaniards suffering the effects of the recent crisis. The party has hinted at plans to roll back labour market reforms, to shield financially troubled homebuyers from eviction and to raise the pressure on tax evaders. Like their Greek allies, its leaders are fierce critics of Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and often voice sympathy for the idea of a pan-European round of debt write-offs.

Beyond such slogans, however, it is hard to trace the outlines of a future political manifesto. There is no party programme, and Podemos leaders have consistently refused to be drawn on concrete measures or prescriptions. The party’s reluctance to set out a clear programme reflects in part the helter-skelter nature of its rise. Podemos formally elected a leadership, and gave itself a proper organisation, only three months ago. But the group’s ambiguity is also part of a strategy to downplay its leftwing origins.

Tobias Buck, “Spanish politics: Podemos’ populist surge“, Financial Times, 20 February 2015 (metered paywall).



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