Podemos leader encourages Spanish king to run for head of state in election

Pablo Iglesias believes he will soon hold meeting with Felipe VI

Pablo Iglesias wants King Felipe VI to put his position to the vote.
Pablo Iglesias wants King Felipe VI to put his position to the vote.SUSANA VERA (REUTERS)

The leader of Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, says he has requested a meeting with King Felipe VI to encourage him to run for the position of head of state in elections.

His chances of winning would be very high because of the “enormous affection” Spaniards had for him, Iglesias told Reuters in an interview.

The head of Podemos, which leads some voting intention surveys ahead of the ruling Popular Party (PP) and main opposition Socialists (PSOE), said he was convinced the meeting with the Spanish monarch would happen “soon.”

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It would be good for democracy if he were the head of state not for hereditary reasons, but because Spaniards had voted for him, insisted Iglesias, whose party has gone from strength to strength since its foundation a year ago on the back of its anti-corruption message.

He said Podemos wanted to open up a process to discuss many issues relating to the state model in Spain.

In the interview, Iglesias also called on the European Union to end austerity policies to prevent the rise of far-right parties that could endanger democracy.

“Perhaps in one year’s time [French National Front leader] Marine Le Pen will have a seat at the Eurogroup. One should ask [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel if she’d rather sit down with Marine Le Pen or with me,” he said.

Despite a recent poll showing his party ahead in terms of voting intention, Iglesias said he and his aides were very cautious about such forecasts, but that his goal was to win the general election scheduled for late this year.

One should ask German Chancellor Angela Merkel if she’d rather sit down with Marine Le Pen or with me”

Pablo Iglesias

“I have the impression that if it doesn’t happen, there could be in this country a grand coalition like those which have ruled in so many other European countries,” he warned. “They would continue the policies that have taken us to disaster.”

Iglesias also noted that the only segment of the Spanish population that Podemos receives little support from was “older people.” The 36-year-old politician said this was because “Podemos’s style implies a young style” and because his party contained “a lot of future and not a lot of past.”

As for the first ballot date of the year in Spain, the Andalusian regional elections on March 22, Iglesias said his party had not given up on the possibility of winning because there was a lot of campaigning left to do and surveys showed that nearly half of Andalusians remained undecided.

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