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'Spain is not Greece,' admits Podemos leader

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'Spain is not Greece,' admits Podemos leader
Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP
10:07 CET+01:00
The leader of left-wing protest party, Podemos, is in New York this week, criticizing the 'dogmatism' of European austerity politics and calling on political leaders to 'rectify' their policies.

Pablo Iglesias, the leader of left-wing party Podemos, is in New York for a series of political and academic meetings, with a view to developing his party's anti-austerity policies.

The leader, who has seen his party swoop up the polls since it was started a year ago, and topple the opposition socialist party to second position behind the ruling Popular Party, has been boosted by the success of Syriza in Greece´s general election last month.

But he admitted on his first day of the trip to conquer the USA that Spain was not facing the same crisis as Greece.

When asked about the differences in leaving the economic crisis in Spain compared to Greece, Iglesias said the characteristics of the debt in each country were "completely different".

"Luckily, in Spain the effects of austerity have not been as aggressive as in Greece," he added. The aim of the trip is to "nurture an economic programme for Spain and an end to austerity policies" according to a statement released by Podemos and quoted in El País.

The trip, which will last until Wednesday, included a meeting with Nobel Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, in Colombia University’s Business School. Iglesias has often cited Stiglitz, who is known for his critical view of free-market economists and international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Stiglitz has also been a vocal critic of restrictive economic policies as the only way out of the financial crisis, something that will surely chime with Podemos’ anti-austerity message.

"We must rectify (the situation). We have to be more like the idea of Europe with prosperity. What we are saying is neither left nor right," Iglesias, quoted in Spanish daily 20 minutos, told reporters outside Colombia Business School.

"A comment the professor made stayed with me," Iglesias said, "among the community of economists around the world, not one person defends austerity policies."

Among Iglesias’ other activities in New York was a meeting with supporters in the borough of Queens during which he told the crowd "Podemos – the time is now".

Speaking to a crowd of young Spaniards he criticized the fact that many had been forced to leave Spain because of the economic crisis, blaming it on "traitors of the homeland".

He finished on a note of hope and a nod to a brighter future for Spain:  

"We want to build a Spain to which you can return. Never again a Spain without you. Good night, New York".

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