MADRID: Spain’s hard-left may have agreed to join forces to contest early elections in July, but tensions remain high between Podemos and the left-wing Sumar alliance, which could prove costly at the polls.
“Spain wanted us to cooperate and we did,” Somar’s president, Yolanda Diaz, who is also the labor minister, said over the weekend after brokering a deal that brought together about 15 political groupings to the left of Prime Minister Pedro. SanchezJudged Socialists.
Sanchez has hailed the last-minute deal, which seeks to avert a fractured vote, as “a sign of responsibility”, and his re-election hopes depend on the support of the hard left.
He announced the election on May 29, a day after the Socialists and their left-wing coalition partner Podemos suffered defeat in local and regional contests, prompting a widely expected vote at the end of the year.
Getting Podemos, by far the main hard-left party, on board was key — but the discussions dragged on for weeks and weren’t easy.
“For the left, this agreement is a relief,” said Paloma Roman, professor of political science at the Complutense University of Madrid, referring to the “catastrophic results” of the hard left during the May 28 elections.
“They can look forward to something better,” she told AFP on July 23.
Polls have long tipped the right-wing Popular Party to win next month’s election.
But without a majority, the People’s Party will have to rely on the far-right Vox party to govern, providing a glimmer of hope for the left.
With the hard left now united, Sanchez’s Socialists could re-establish a minority government that could rule with the support of several regional parties.
Far from smoothing out their differences, Friday’s agreement highlighted some key tensions.
A major point of contention was Somar’s insistence that Irene Montero, Podemos’ most famous face and Spain’s outspoken equality minister, not be included on the grounds that she was too divisive a political figure.
And Montero, a hardliner who has often courted controversy, is paying the price for the backlash over her groundbreaking rape law, which included a loophole that has allowed more than 1,000 convicted sex offenders to reduce their sentences.
Podemos co-founder Pablo Iglesias, a former deputy prime minister who is Montero’s partner and still very influential within the party, said her exclusion from Sumar’s list was a “huge mistake” that sent a “terrible message”.
“It could cause a lot of electoral damage to the political space that is necessary to prevent the People’s Party from ruling with Vox,” Iglesias said on Monday, urging Sumar to reconsider before the June 19 deadline to nominate candidates.
Gabriel Ruffian of the Catalan separatist left-wing ERC party, which regularly gives parliamentary support to Sánchez’s minority government, said Monteiro had been “sold across the river for a promise of salvation that won’t happen”.
Asked about the possibility of lifting Montero’s veto, Diaz said little on Monday, saying that what Spaniards want “is for us to offer solutions to their problems, and I don’t think the rest matters much to them.”
For Román, the fragile unity deal signed on Friday could have an “extremely high” cost because it ultimately delivered an image of “divisionism” that so badly destroyed Sanchez’s left-wing coalition.
By washing dirty linens in public, she said, the hard left gave the impression that it was more interested in “fighting for office” and vanity than in its own political ideas.
“And in politics, you get held accountable,” she said, implying that Podemos would have lost the most.
Podemos emerged from the anti-austerity “Indignados” protest movement and by 2015 had become Spain’s third largest political force, entering government with the Socialists five years later.
Since then, her appeal has waned due to a series of controversies and controversies, with her support collapsing in the May 28 election.
Now her future appears to be in question, given her limited standing within Sumar.
“Progressively the links between Podemos and CSOs have become less and less and the result is that Podemos has become closed around itself,” writes Lasse Thomasen, professor of political science at Queen Mary University of London.
He wrote in a blog for the London School of Economics (LSE) that the Spanish left must take this into account if it wants to stay in power.
“The future of his government depends on whether parties to the left of the socialists learn from Podemos’ mistakes.”


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