Podemos (Spanish political party)
This article needs to be updated.(November 2019)
|General Secretary||Ione Belarra|
|Spokesperson in Congress||Pablo Echenique|
|Spokesperson in Senate||Esperanza Gómez Corona|
Juan Carlos Monedero
|Founded||16 January 2014|
|Headquarters||Calle Zurita 21, 28012 Madrid, Spain|
|Think tank||Instituto 25M|
|Youth wing||Rebeldía Joven|
|National affiliation||Unidas Podemos|
|European affiliation||Now the People|
|European Parliament group||The Left in the European Parliament – GUE/NGL|
|Slogan||Sí se puede|
("Yes, we can")
|Congress of Deputies|
24 / 350
0 / 265
3 / 59
72 / 1,248
6 / 19
Podemos (Spanish: [poˈðemos], translated in English as "We can")[a] is a political party in Spain founded in January 2014 by political scientist Pablo Iglesias Turrión in the aftermath of the 15-M Movement protests against inequality and corruption. Podemos is a left-wing populist party which favours anti-austerity, anti-corruption and anti-establishment views.
In 2014 Podemos was the second largest political party in Spain by number of members after the People's Party (PP). On 9 May 2016, Podemos formed the Unidos Podemos (UP) electoral alliance with United Left, Equo and minor left-wing parties. In 2018, the party joined Maintenant le Peuple. After the November 2019 Spanish general election, in which the party and its allies won 12.8% of the vote and 35 seats in the Congress of Deputies, Podemos entered a coalition government with the PSOE, the first multi-party cabinet in the current Spanish democratic era.
Podemos emerged from the Indignados movement against inequality and corruption in 2011. The group was inspired by the populist leaders of Latin America's Pink tide, which included Venezuela's Hugo Chávez and Bolivia's Evo Morales.
In January 2014, it released the manifesto Mover ficha: convertir la indignación en cambio político ("Move A Piece: Turn Indignation Into Political Change"), which was signed by thirty intellectuals and personalities, including Juan Carlos Monedero, Alberto San Juan, associate professor of political science at the National University of Distance Education (UNED) Jaime Pastor, the writer and philosopher Santiago Alba Rico, the former leader of the Left Trade Union Current Cándido González Carnero and Bibiana Medialdea, associate professor of applied economy at the UCM.
Podemos' manifesto stated that it was necessary to create a party list for the 2014 European Parliament election, with the goal of opposing the dominant policies of the European Union from the left. On 14 January, Pablo Iglesias, a professor of political science at the UCM and a TV presenter, was announced as head the movement. The movement was organised by the party Anti-Capitalist Left (Izquierda Anticapitalista), the Spanish section of the Trotskyist Fourth International, which had written the Mover ficha manifesto. One of the points highlighted by Iglesias was the derogation of the 135th article of the Constitution, which was made in 2011 by the major parties People's Party (PP) and Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE); full application of the 128th article of the constitution ("All wealth of the country in all its forms and no matter who owns it, is subordinated to the people's interest"); and maintaining abortion rights. They also demanded Spain exit from NATO and support self-determination rights.
The Podemos movement was officially launched on 16 January 2014 in the Teatro del Barrio in the Lavapiés neighbourhood of Madrid, with a press conference attended by hundreds of people. The speakers at the launch included Pablo Iglesias, Juan Carlos Monedero, Teresa Rodríguez, psychiatrist and member of the Marea Blanca Ana Castaño, Íñigo Errejón and Miguel Urbán. The party's fundamental goal was to oppose the austerity policies of the government.
In order to run in the European elections of 2014, the members of the bare bones of Podemos set themselves three conditions: to receive the support of at least 50,000 people; that both the programme and the lists of candidates be prepared through open participation; and that unity be sought with other parties and movements of the left, such as United Left, the Popular Unity Candidacy, the X Party, the Andalusian Workers Union, Anova and the citizens' mareas ("tides"). The 50,000 signatures were obtained in less than 24 hours and the Podemos website crashed due to the high traffic.
In August 2015, Podemos endorsed Jeremy Corbyn's campaign in the Labour Party leadership election. The party's international secretariat released a statement that "In Podemos we share Jeremy Corbyn's view that another Europe is not just possible but necessary". It added: "Against the irresponsibility of the troika and the Eurogroup, against the Europe of financial lobbies and puppet representatives, a new democratic and social Europe is emerging, and Jeremy Corbyn's victory would be a great step in that direction".
2014 European Parliament election
In the 2014 European Parliament elections on 25 May 2014, Podemos received 7.98% of the national vote, with 1,200,000 votes cast, electing five Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Iglesias chose Dina Bousselham to lead his cabinet of advisors as an MEP.
El País described Pablo Iglesias as pessimistic about the outcome of the election: "We have lost these European elections. They have been won by the People's Party. We cannot be happy about this". He stated that his objective is to "move forward until we throw the PP and the PSOE out of power" and that "[w]e will now work with other parties from the south of Europe to make it clear that we don't want to be a German colony". Iglesias said Podemos MEPs would not take the standard MEP salary of more than €8,000 a month, stating that "not one of our MEPs will earn more than €1,930, an amount that's three times the minimum wage in Spain".
First party congress
On 5 June 2014, Pablo Iglesias announced that the Asamblea Ciudadana "Sí se puede" (Citizens' Assembly "Yes, it can be done") would take place in the autumn. Iglesias also announced that a team of twenty-five people would be responsible for preparing the assembly, to be chosen in open elections in which anybody could participate, with closed lists, with no limit to the number of lists which could be presented. The vote took place over the Internet on 12 and 13 June. Two lists were presented, one headed by Iglesias and the other promoted by the Círculo de Enfermería ("Nurses' circle"). The technical details of the election and the deadlines generated discussion within Podemos. In a meeting of Podemos circles which took place on 8 June in Madrid, there was criticism for both the closed lists and the short deadlines, which allegedly led to fewer lists being presented. The electoral process in which 55,000 people participated gave the victory to Iglesias' list, with 86.8% of the vote.
A major part of the citizens' assembly involved the writing of documents defining the political and organisational principles of the party as well as resolutions the party would adopt. Any member of Podemos could present a document and these would be adopted or rejected in a vote with all members of Podemos participating. These documents would determine the structure of the party. Internal elections would then take place, again with the participation of all members of Podemos, to fill the positions defined by this structure.
The citizens' assembly adopted five resolutions, all of which were submitted by circles, based on the votes of Podemos members, each of whom could vote for five resolutions. The approved resolutions were on improving public education (45%), on anti-corruption measures (42%), on the right to housing (38%), on improving public healthcare (31%) and on auditing and re-structuring the debt (23%).
The ethical, political and structure documents proposed by the "Claro que Podemos", which included Luis Alegre, Carolina Bescansa, Íñigo Errejón, Pablo Iglesias and Juan Carlos Monedero were approved by 80.7% of the vote, surpassing "Sumando Podemos" 12.3% of the vote, promoted by the MEPs Pablo Echenique, Teresa Rodríguez and Lola Sánchez in the vote for the structure document.
2015 local elections
In October 2014, Podemos decided not to stand candidates in the May 2015 local elections in Spain. Instead, it decided that its members would support local grassroots candidacies, most notably Barcelona en Comú, the citizen platform led by anti-evictions activist Ada Colau in Barcelona and Ahora Madrid (led by ex judge Manuela Carmena) in Madrid.
2015 general election
In the lead up to the 2015 general election, Podemos adopted a pledge that, if the party won the election, it would hold a nationwide referendum on whether Spain should retain the Spanish monarchy or become a republic. The party also promised to increase public spending and ban job cuts in profitable firms.
Following the failure of the 2015–2016 Spanish government formation negotiations to create a stable coalition government, on 2 May 2016 a second general election was called for June 2016. To contest the election, Podemos formed an electoral alliance with United Left, Equo and regional left-wing parties, the official name being announced on 13 May 2016 as Unidos Podemos ("United we can"). The coalition received 21.2% of the vote.
Ideology and policies
Podemos has been described as a left-wing populist and democratic socialist party. The party supports anti-austerity views and abortion. Furthermore, the party is openly republican and feminist. It opposes economic inequality.
Party ex-leader Pablo Iglesias supports the right to self-determination of autonomous communities, like Catalonia and the Basque Country. The party has called for the release of jailed Catalan leaders on trial in Spain’s Supreme Court.
This section needs to be updated.(April 2019)
Podemos presented a collaboratively written programme for the European elections 2014. Some of the most important policies were:
- Economic recovery: with emphasis on public control, poverty reduction and social dignity via a basic income for everyone, it includes lobbying controls and punitive measures against tax avoidance by large corporations and multinational organisations as well as promotion of smaller enterprises.
- Promoting liberty, equality and fraternity: breaking down barriers across Europe and allowing people to cooperate fairly and freely without either intelligence gathering or social stigma.
- Redefining sovereignty: revoking or curtailing the Treaty of Lisbon, abandoning memoranda of understanding, withdrawing from some free trade agreements and promoting referenda on any major constitutional reform.
- Healing the environment: deals with reduction of fossil fuel consumption, promotion of public transport and renewable energy initiatives, reduction of industrial cash crop agriculture and stimulating local food production by small and medium enterprises.
The support obtained by the new formation after the European elections in 2014 resulted in multiple analyses and reactions. While some sectors welcomed the results, there were also expressions of concern. Pedro Sanchez, Secretary General of the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE) since July 2014, branded Podemos populist on numerous occasions at the beginning of his term while much of its electorate opted for the new party. The New York Times stated that a challenge for Podemos would be putting together a true agenda noting that "the party’s 36-page campaign program reads like a wish list, with little detail about how it could be financed at a time when Spain is still struggling under a heavy debt burden". Vicente Palacio of Fundación Alternativas said that Podemos could have "very beneficial effects in terms of regenerating the Spanish democratic system", but is in danger of going "toward populism and demagogy, as has happened in the case of Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement in Italy". As of November 2014, the PSOE has instead chosen to distance itself from populism and the extreme left to preserve the center left.
The leader of Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD) Rosa Díez said that similarities could be found with the Greek left-wing coalition Syriza, with the Five Star Movement of Beppe Grillo and even with the French right-wing National Front of Marine Le Pen. The spokesman for the People's Party María Dolores de Cospedal said that poll results show a radicalisation of the left vote. Esperanza Aguirre, another prominent member of the People's Party, accused Pablo Iglesias of "being with the Castrismo, with Chavismo and ETA", which Iglesias responded to statements described as "slander" and announced he would consider legal action.
The leaders of Podemos also tried to distance themselves from the government of Venezuela following allegations of "murky" funding since many Podemos leaders were linked to Venezuela and other "revolutionary" movements in Latin America. Consulting work in leftist Latin American governments involving several members, including Iglesias, earned their consulting organisation, Center for Political and Social Studies Foundation (CEPS Foundation), €3.5 million, which helped fund their own television debate shows. Juan Carlos Monedero, one of Podemos' founding members, received €425,000 for political consultancy work for Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua. Podemos called for an external auditor to observe accounts from February 2014 to December 2014 which showed that the total income from both private donations and state subsidies was at about €947,000; among the largest donors to the party were Podemos' own five MEPs, who donated €52,000 in 2014 from their salaries.
Since March 2015, journalists have been critical of the relationship between the political party and the traditional media. In this sense, the Madrid Press Association (APM) issued a statement in March 2017 to give shelter to a collective of professionals who claimed it. The party's formation and campaigning were the subject of the documentary Politics, Instructions Manual.
This section needs to be updated.(April 2019)
According to GlobalPost, Podemos and other parties of the left have suddenly grown because of Europe's economic difficulties. Unemployment, especially among young Spanish adults, has created a positive sentiment towards Podemos and their appeal to the unsatisfied youth of Spain with an "irreverent style". Podemos also used its very well run social media presence to its benefit to find popularity.
After it received the fourth highest number of votes in the European elections, news related to the growth of Podemos started to be published. The hashtag Pablo Iglesias was the number 1 trending topic on Twitter in Spain the day after the elections and Iglesias appeared on the front page of prominent Spanish newspapers. Before the elections, Podemos was already the most popular political force within social networks, but it had increased from 100,000 to 600,000 "Likes" on Facebook between May and July 2014. The CIS' quarterly survey, polling over July 2014 (two months after the elections) showed Podemos as the second most popular party regarding direct intention of vote, surpassing the PSOE, but being a 0.9% behind the PP. In late July, Podemos started to allow individuals to sign up, with 32,000 people registering as members in the first 48 hours through Podemos' website for free. In the first 20 days, Podemos already had about 100,000 members, becoming the third largest Spanish party by membership, surpassing United Left (IU), Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), Convergence and Union (CiU) and Basque Nationalist Party (PNV/EAJ). In August 2014, Podemos already had 442,000 more "Likes" on Facebook than the "Likes" of the rest of the parties combined, having 708,763, with more than 2.6 million views on its YouTube channel. In September 2014, the interview of Iglesias in Viajando con Chester had almost 3 million watchers, being the most watched programme in its timeslot with 14.5% of the audience share. In October 2014, Iglesias' participation in La Sexta Noche (in which he was also interviewed) rose the audience share of the programme to 16,2%, which is its historical maximum. Iglesias' interview in Salvados also made the programme have its best ever audience, with a 23.8% and 5 million watchers. In late October, Podemos had more than 200,000 members. On 2 November 2014, El Pais published an opinion poll which gave Podemos 27.7% approval rating, compared to PSOE's 26.2% and PP's 20.7%; and gave Podemos a direct intention of vote of 22.2%, compared to PSOE's 13.1% and PP's 10.4%. The party lost much support in the polls during the final months of 2015 when elections were approaching (sinking to 13%) whereas during the election campaign experienced a huge rise in support in the polls up to 20% of vote days before the election.
|Election||Congress||Senate||Leading candidate||Status in legislature|
49 / 350
12 / 208
|12||Pablo Iglesias||New election|
|2016||Within Unidos Podemos||
47 / 350
11 / 208
|Confidence and supply (from June 2018)|
|2019 (Apr)||Within Unidas Podemos||
32 / 350
0 / 208
|11||Pablo Iglesias||New election|
|2019 (Nov)||Within Unidas Podemos||
26 / 350
0 / 208
|0||Pablo Iglesias||Coalition (PSOE–UP)|
5 / 54
3 / 54
- Totals for Podemos in 2019 do not include elected seats from United Left (2) and Catalunya en Comú (1).
|Region||Election||Votes||%||#||Seats||Status in legislature|
14 / 109
5 / 67
4 / 45
|Balearic Islands||2019||Within UP||
5 / 59
|Basque Country||2020||Within EP||
3 / 75
4 / 70
0 / 35
|Castile and León||2019||68,869||5.00%||5th||
2 / 81
|Castilla–La Mancha||2019||Within UP||
0 / 33
2 / 135
2 / 65
0 / 75
|La Rioja||2019||Within UP||
1 / 33
5 / 132
2 / 45
2 / 50
|Valencian Community||2019||Within UP||
5 / 99
This section needs to be updated. The reason given is: This was before they started charging a membership fee to be a member in 2020. Current numbers are significantly lower.(June 2021)
As of 2019, there are 523,000 members and 25,000 activists.
|28 July 2014||0|
|17 August 2014||100,000|
|27 October 2014||200,000|
|29 December 2014||300,000|
|16 April 2016||400,000|
|23 May 2018||500,000|
- Balearic Islands
- Basque Country
- Valencian Community
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