SPANISH ELECTIONS

Podemos seals deal with communist group to run together in new election

Anti-austerity party and United Left seek to "win the country back for the popular classes"

Izquierda Unida leader Alberto Garzón (left) and Podemos chief Pablo Iglesias celebrate their deal.
Izquierda Unida leader Alberto Garzón (left) and Podemos chief Pablo Iglesias celebrate their deal.Ballesteros / EFE

Podemos and the leftist federation United Left (IU), which includes the Spanish Communist Party, republicans, greens and feminists, will run together in the fresh general election of June 26.

On Monday, both groups sealed “a preliminary electoral agreement” that they will now put to their supporters for approval.

The deal guarantees that IU will receive at least a sixth of the seats that the coalition obtains in the coming election. According to their own estimates, this alliance might secure around 58 seats in Congress – without counting the regional parties in Catalonia, Valencia and Galicia that ran with Podemos last time, and might add their seats to the group again now.

The joint document avoids issues that both groups disagree on, like NATO membership or changing the monarchy for a republic

The goal of the deal is to “win back the country for the popular classes” and “to defeat the Popular Party [PP].”

Together but separate

Despite the alliance, Podemos and IU will conduct mostly separate campaigns on separate budgets. Podemos is also refusing to acknowledge the deal as a left-wing project. In a message on social media last week, Errejón stated that “the re-foundational moments of a democracy and the construction of a new general interest always begin with we the people rather than we the left.”

The inconclusive election of December 20 yielded a fragmented scenario in which the PP won the most seats, 123, but fell well short of the overall majority, which is set at 176. Unable to attract any support from other parties, the PP has headed a caretaker government since then, in the hopes that the fresh election will force its main rival, the Socialist Party (PSOE), into a grand alliance with the conservatives.

Attempts during these past months at forging a leftist alliance between the Socialists, Podemos and other forces failed for a variety of reasons, and the PSOE instead teamed up with Spain’s other emerging party, Ciudadanos. But this was not enough to get Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez voted in as the new prime minister.

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Now, the anti-austerity Podemos is instead turning to IU. The new coalition is without match in recent democratic history in terms of its potential votes. At the December election, Podemos and its regional allies secured over five million ballots, while IU attracted one million voters.

It is also a nationwide alliance that required months of talks. Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias originally wanted IU to come under his party’s umbrella, but ultimately agreed that both will run together as equals, without losing their respective logos.

Their joint platform has been the subject of intense negotiations, and appears to be avoiding some of the issues that Podemos and IU disagree on. In their working document, IU fails to mention its long-held ambitions of turning Spain into a republic, nationalizing energy companies and taking the country out of NATO.

The joint text merely states that “while recognizing each group’s signs of identity, these will agree on a common basic program that will be the only content to be collectively defended.” Each member of the alliance is free to keep defending ideas not mentioned in the document and to vote their own way in Congress.

This new alliance has no official name yet, but must be registered with the Central Electoral Committee by Friday, following Spanish legislation.

Under the deal, IU leader Alberto Garzón will run fifth on the Madrid ticket. Podemos’ number-two man, Iñigo Errejón, is listed third.

English version by Susana Urra.

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