NEWS

Spain’s Podemos becomes potential SYRIZA ally with EU seats

By Charles Penty

Podemos, a new movement that grew out of street demonstrations against politicians and banks, won five seats in the European Parliament as Spanish voters lent their voice to protests against mainstream parties.

The ruling People’s Party lost eight lawmakers compared with its showing in 2009, even as it claimed 16 seats and 26 percent, the biggest share of the vote. The Socialists won 14 seats with 23 percent support compared with 23 seats five years ago, the Interior Ministry said on its website. Podemos won 8 percent as the left-wing vote splintered to give the Plural Left six seats and 10 percent.

“There’s never been a coalition government in Spain as the two major parties were always strong enough without each other,” Ignacio Molina, a political scientist at Madrid’s Elcano research institute, said at a press conference today. “There are signs that this is changing.”

The emergence of Podemos in Spain was part of a trend across the continent as anti-establishment parties from the right and left increased their presence in the European Parliament. Podemos, which calls for political control over the European Central Bank and unlimited purchases of government bonds, may provide a natural ally for Alexis Tsipras’s anti- austerity Syriza party, which won the biggest share of the vote and six seats in Greece.

“We’ll work with other colleagues in southern Europe to say in the European Parliament that we don’t want to be a colony of Germany or the troika,” Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos, said in a televised news conference last night.

In Catalonia, the Convergencia i Unio party of President Artur Mas was beaten into second-place by the left wing separatist party Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya. ERC won 24 percent of the vote to compared with 22 percent for CiU.

The abstention rate for the national vote was 54 percent compared with 55 percent in 2009 as 15.9 million Spaniards cast votes in the elections. Socialist leader Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba is due to hold a news conference today to discuss the election results.

[Bloomberg]

Online