POLITICS

Podemos manifesto coming “as soon as possible,” says newly elected leader

Pablo Iglesias is working on “a battery of economic measures” to restart the economy

Pablo Iglesias is interviewed on Cadena Ser on Monday.
Pablo Iglesias is interviewed on Cadena Ser on Monday.SER

Pablo Iglesias, who was officially appointed secretary general of Podemos this past weekend, said that Spain’s newest party is working hard on developing a program to win the 2015 elections.

In a radio interview on the Cadena Ser network, Iglesias said that he and his aides are making progress on “a battery of economic measures” to restart the ailing economy and give power back to the people.

This includes measures to ensure people are not evicted from their homes and to strip banks of repossessed properties that are lying empty for speculative purposes.

Iglesias wants to take Spain out of NATO and revoke the agreement allowing the US to keep military bases in Cádiz and Seville

The charismatic leader of the nascent party – which is only 10 months old but has already become a political force to be reckoned with – also confirmed that his views on foreign relations include taking Spain out of NATO and revoking the bilateral agreement allowing the United States to keep military bases in Rota (Cádiz) and Morón (Seville).

An early November voter intention poll showed that if elections were held today, the governing Popular Party (PP) would take 27.5% of the vote, the Socialist Party (PSOE) 23.9%, and Podemos 22.5%, ahead of much older groups such as the like-minded United Left, whose very existence is now being questioned.

This unprecedented support for Podemos, which translates as We Can in Spanish, is interpreted by observers as a popular expression of anger at the mismanagement of the crisis and the corruption cases involving members of all the traditional parties, which Iglesias refers to collectively as “the caste.”

Over the weekend, Iglesias said that Podemos is “an alternative to a crumbling regime,” which he described as being ruled by a clique of corrupt politicians and greedy business leaders.

I don’t want Catalonia to leave Spain, there are many Catalans who would prefer to be with us in Spain than in Catalonia with CiU”

In Monday’s interview, the new secretary general, who received 80 percent support from registered voters, reiterated some of the proposals he has been making in recent months, yet remained deliberately vague on several controversial issues.

“I don’t want Catalonia to leave Spain, there are many Catalans who would prefer to be with us in Spain than in Catalonia with CiU,” he said, in reference to the Catalan nationalist bloc that has been at the forefront of the sovereignty drive . “Spain is a country of countries, a country of nations. This needs to be discussed in a constituent process.”

Podemos’ weakest point to date has been its economic policy, with leaders talking about everything from expropriation to defaulting on Spain’s sovereign debt. Faced with a barrage of criticism, Iglesias has since toned down his message and said that some of the debt should be restructured. Asked what he would do with a risk premium of 600 points — Portugal and Ireland requested bailouts before even reaching that point — Podemos’ leader said that “the risk premium has become a tool for blackmail.”

“I would be happy just seeing the European Central Bank act a little more like the US Federal Reserve,” he added.

As for his “basic universal income,” a minimum living wage that all citizens would be entitled to, Iglesias said that it would be funded through “a tax reform.”

The party, which prides itself on its openness to citizen participation and allows anyone to register on its website and vote on any issue, has been described as populist by both the Popular Party and the main opposition Socialists, who point to its leaders’ admiration (and in some cases, past advisory work for) the Venezuelan regime and other leftist governments in Latin America.

Asked what he thought about Ecuador’s gag law against the media, Iglesias — who once stated that the media need public control — said that “I think there is an unwritten gag law resulting from the concentration of private media groups.”

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