• Spain's news in English

Podemos ditch radical and swerve to the center

AFP · 7 May 2015, 08:44

Published: 07 May 2015 08:44 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Podemos turned Spanish politics on its head by surging in the polls since its 2014 foundation, but recently ran into trouble with regional elections set for May 24th and a general vote due around November.

Earlier this year, Podemos topped some opinion polls, but the most recent surveys rank it in fourth place behind the country's two main parties and rival upstart Ciudadanos, which is competing for voters thirsty for change but who fear the hard left's tone.

This week, Podemos presented a preliminary manifesto heavy on social welfare but abandoning some earlier pledges and lacking detailed figures.

The plan promises a "citizens' bailout" consisting of social measures to help poor and working people.

It was launched on Tuesday at a theatre in Madrid by Podemos's pony-tailed leader Pablo Iglesias, a 36-year-old university lecturer.

He vows to stop evictions of homeowners ruined in the economic crisis and offers universal free healthcare and more investment in education -- sectors hit by recent austerity measures.

The plan proposed a "new model of production" for a more environmentally friendly economy, promoting research and development and fighting corruption.

'Swerve to the centre'

Analysts said Podemos had meanwhile quietly dropped some of its earlier policies.

It had promised a "universal minimum income" for families without revenues, and said it would refuse to pay Spain's debts.

Those proposals, scorned by opponents, were missing from the new programme.

"This is a clear swerve towards the centre," said Antonio Roldan of the Eurasia Group think tank in London.

"They have abandoned all the more unviable measures."

Podemos has been criticised by opponents for not saying how it would fund its welfare policies.

This week's manifesto did not give detailed figures either -- a Podemos spokeswoman told AFP it was just a "framework" plan.

It said it would increase tax on annual incomes over €50,000 ($57,000) and lower the tax threshold for large fortunes to €400,000 ($453,000).

Podemos has campaigned against corruption and public spending cuts in the recent years of economic crisis, which has driven unemployment up to nearly 24 percent at the last count.

The head of Podemos's economic section, Nacho Alvarez, insisted its vision was viable, based on boosting the economy by stimulating demand.

"We are in favour of balanced public finances, but the reduction in the public deficit must be subject to a reduction in unemployment," he said.

"If there is a will, it can be done."

Spain's mainstream media were typically sceptical of Podemos's pledges.

The programme "hides vital subjects such as the debt of the regions, and how to finance such an ambitious plan," wrote journalist Marisa Recuero in centre-right newspaper El Mundo.

In centre-left daily El Pais, commentator Javier Ayuso said the programme lacked detail on its economic plans and appealed above all to Podemos's base: the Indignant street protest movement in which the party is rooted.

Story continues below…

Don't mention Greece

According to the latest polls, Podemos has been overtaken by Ciudadanos (Citizens) in third place, with the governing Popular Party and opposition Socialists first and second.

On top of that, last week Podemos's number three, Juan Carlos Monedero, quit over ideological differences.

Podemos has one ally in Syriza, the left-wing party that won power in Greece in January but is now struggling to push through its vows to renegotiate the country's debt.

Syriza's troubles have given ammunition to Podemos's own opponents, not least Spain's conservative government which boasts of its improving economic growth figures.

Spain's Finance Minister Luis de Guindos said there were "lots of contradictions" in Podemos's plan.

"The worst that can happen to a country is for it to lose its power to decide" due to outside financial pressures, he said. "Look what is happening in Greece."


For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Brit 'paedo' held on Costa del Sol after Most Wanted appeal

One of Britain's most wanted fugitives was arrested on the Costa Del Sol following a tip-off from an expat just hours after his face appeared on a public appeal.

Spain's parliament approves deficit reduction measures
Photo: Images Money/Flickr

Spanish lawmakers approved on Thursday measures to reduce the public deficit and keep it under the target agreed with the European Union.

'Cubism and War' show opens at Barcelona Picasso Museum
Pablo Picasso Harlequin and Woman with a Necklace. Photo: MP

Barcelona's Picasso Museum unveiled an exhibition on "Cubism and War" on Thursday depicting how one of the most influential artistic styles of the 20th century survived the First World War.

Why this bionic limb pioneer doesn't believe in disability
Hugh Herr has been award Spain's top science prize. Photo: FPA

The Local speaks to Hugh Herr on winning Spain's top science prize and how being an amputee doesn't make him disabled.

Dine in the buff at Spain's first nudist restaurant
A buffet of organic food will be served on "human tables". Photo: Innato / Facebook

Spain's first naked dining experience is to arrive on the island of Tenerife following the success of a similar venture in London.

Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Photo: AFP

Spain's Constitutional Court on Thursday cancelled a bullfighting ban in Catalonia in what is likely to exacerbate tensions between Madrid and the separatist region, and between animal activists and fans of the tradition.

Out of the dark: Five years on from Eta ceasefire
Eta members made a ceasefire declaration in January, 2011. Photo: Gara / AFP

Five years after armed separatist group Eta declared a permanent ceasefire, Basque journalist Alberto Letona is still wondering when the dialogue will begin.

Hunt for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Call Crimestoppers if you recognize these faces.

These fugitives from British justice are thought to be hiding out in Spain. Do you recognize anyone?

Eta 'not dead' but Spain focus moves onto jihadism
Archive photo of a pro-mural in the Basque Country. Photo: AFP

Five years after Eta quit violence, the Basque separatist group has yet to dissolve but it poses little threat and authorities have shifted their focus to fight jihadists, says Spain's chief anti-terrorism prosecutor.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
jobs available