A new left alliance is poised to replace the Labour-type Socialist Party (PSOE) as the main force on the parliamentary left in the coming Spanish election.
Podemos and the Communist Party-led United Left (Izquierda Unida) are standing together, as Unidos Podemos—“United We Can”.
The election was called for Sunday 26 June after no stable majority emerged from last December’s election.
The two-party system that has dominated politics in the Spanish state since the end of the dictatorship in 1977 appears finished.
Last December the PSOE and the governing conservative People’s Party (PP) combined vote dropped from around 80 percent to 51 percent.
Podemos’s dramatic rise is to the background of economic crisis, with 27 percent unemployment and the discrediting of a political system riddled with corruption.
It also comes after mass mobilisations against austerity and for democratic renewal, such as the Indignados movment, and success in local and regional elections.
Young people, who suffer over 50 percent unemployment, are central to the new party’s success.
From the start Podemos has set itself up as a party that aimed to govern rather than be just a “protest movement”. Electoral successes have been accompanied by the adoption of an increasingly moderate programme.
Thus the 50-point programme of Unidos Podemos excludes historic demands of the Spanish left. These include exit from Nato, the establishment of a Republic, the nationalisation of strategic sectors of the economy and cancelling the debt.
Unidos Podemos commits to reverse the last round of public spending cuts, repeal laws undermining worker’s rights and fight corruption and tax evasion.
Unlike its rivals, Unidos Podemos will establish a mechanism for voters to recall the government if it does not carry out its electoral programme.
The most likely outcome of the election is a PP-led government, backed in some way or other by the PSOE and new right wing party Ciudadanos.
Podemos approached the PSOE with a call for a coalition “progressive government”. But it is highly unlikely that PSOE will accept.
Like its counterparts in France and Greece, the PSOE has shown itself to be fully on the side of big business. Podemos’s commitment to allow a referendum over Catalan independence will be a further block to any agreement.
Whoever forms the government after June 26 will be forced by the European Union (EU) to impose a new round of cuts in order to reduce further Spain’s debt.
By being in opposition Podemos will benefit in the short term from not having to come to terms with the realities of holding office. These realities rapidly undermined Syriza’s attempt to introduce similar policies in Greece.