Unidos Podemos: Spain’s leftwing alliance hoping to end political impasse
Grouping of Podemos and United Left could, polls suggest, beat the once-dominant PSOE and have chance to form government
Pablo Bustinduy is a typical Podemos MP: although holding the grand title of secretary for international relations, he travels with a rucksack, and wears jeans and a sweatshirt.
Bustinduy, 33, spent much of his 20s pursuing a career in academia in France and the US, gaining a doctoral thesis in political philosophy at the New School in New York and publishing papers on Descartes, Occupy and the indignados (outraged). He returned to Europe to join Podemos, Spains new leftwing party, in 2014, and now criss-crosses the continent meeting its allies and supporters overwhelmingly young Spaniards forced to leave the country in search of work.
Reflecting on the collapse of Spains two main parties in the general election in December, Bustinduy said: What happened was nothing short of revolutionary. Because even with an electoral system that promotes bipartisanship, we have this completely new landscape.
After six months of stalemate and failed coalition talks following the election, Spain finds itself at a historic juncture before the rerun on 26 June. Having come a close third last year with 20% of the vote, Podemos announced an alliance last month with United Left (IU), a leftwing coalition including the PCE, the Communist party of Spain.
They will run on a joint ticket, containing the various Podemos regional franchises, as Unidos Podemos (United We Can). In polls reflecting this new formation, the radical leftwing bloc leapfrogs the formerly dominant centre-left party PSOE into second place, giving it a realistic chance of forming a government.
As was the case in December, the election will probably produce a four-way split, with no party winning a majority. But current polling suggests that a leftwing coalition government of Podemos and PSOE could just beat Mariano Rajoys conservative PP despite it finishing first and fourth-placed Ciudadanos, with Pablo Iglesias, the secretary general of Podemos, as prime minister.
Public patience is wearing thin after six months of fruitless talks and manoeuvring. People wont accept any more institutional limbo, Bustinduy said.
For Podemos, it is time for PSOE to recognise this historical state of affairs and support the new kids on the block. It will depend on the results, but I think the main pressure will be on the PSOE: to choose either to form a progressive coalition government with us, or to allow, one way or the other, the right wing to stay in power and to allow austerity politics to maintain in place, he said.
In an interview with the Spain Report, the Spanish polling expert Kiko Llaneras said Unidos Podemos fixes the handicap that the left has always had in the complex Spanish electoral system: a lack of proportionality. If Podemos and IU get exactly the same votes as at the December election, but together instead of separately, they will get 13 or 14 more seats, he said.