Podemos: Greece’s new political era will come to Spain

Podemos, Spain’s anti-austerity party, sees “a new period” opening up after radical leftist group Syriza sailed to victory in the Greek elections on Sunday.

“The unfair and inefficient budget cut policies have been defeated by Greek voters despite the fear campaign,” said Íñigo Errejón, Podemos’ number two official.

“Blackmail has not triumphed in Greece, meaning it will be more difficult for it to triumph in Spain,” said Errejón, the party’s secretary for political affairs.

“The Greeks are finally going to get a Greek government, not an Angela Merkel delegate,” added Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.

For the left-leaning Podemos, which sees Syriza as a sister party, the Greek results seem to support its belief that Spaniards will vote the same way in general elections scheduled for later this year.

“Hope is here,” Iglesias wrote on Twitter, mirroring Syriza’s own message following Sunday’s results: “Hope has won!”

Both anti-austerity parties have been playing up their ties: Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras was in Spain on the day that Pablo Iglesias became secretary general of Podemos, and Iglesias was in Athens last week at Syriza’s closing campaign rally.

Yet Iglesias is aware that going too far with the relationship could be detrimental to Podemos if Syriza’s performance in office falls below expectations.

“We are putting some distance between us and them because Greece and Spain are in different situations,” says Errejón. “Spain is stronger, its response capacity is greater than Greece’s.”

Instead, Podemos would rather restrict the similarities to the election results. As Iglesias recently stated on the television network La Sexta: “2015 will be the year of change in Spain, as in Greece.”

Although it is only one year old, Podemos has risen to the top of voter intention surveys in Spain on a strong anti-establishment message. Its leaders, who are young and new to politics, are promising to kick out self-serving politicians from the left and the right (“the caste,” as the party calls them) and to introduce policies aimed at serving the people rather than economic powers.

Both the ruling Popular Party (PP) and the Socialists depict Podemos as a populist force that will be unable to deliver on its promises if it ever reaches power.

About Richard Lawson

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