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EDITORIAL
Editorials
These are the responsibility of the editor and convey the newspaper's view on current affairs-both domestic and international

A survival pact

The worst kind of election campaign would be one dominated by a battle between ideological blocs

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (right) and IU chief Alberto Garzón.
Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (right) and IU chief Alberto Garzón.Jaime Villanueva

The alliance announced by Podemos and the Communist Party-led United Left (IU) leaves no options for an entire set of voters who until now had two choices. Faced with this, followers of each of the two parties will now have to either back the initiative, abstain from voting, or look at other groups. Whatever the outcome, there is no question that this coalition introduces a new element into the scenario that emerged after the December 20 election.

The truth is that this alliance is a survival pact. It addresses the need to cover the gaps that Podemos observed in recent voter intention polls and about the credibility of its leader, Pablo Iglesias. Returning to the polls on June 26 with the same setup as December 20 posed the risk of losing ground with IU, whose expectations are doubtless more modest, but on the up.

A society seeking solutions to specific problems can do without fundamentalist screaming matches

United Left is understandably tired of the small political rewards for its performance in the elections: just two deputies for nearly one million votes on December 20. Accepting the logic of the Spanish system, it seeks to secure a greater share of seats.

But Podemos’ reasons for entering into this alliance are more complex. It was already dealing with internal problems and regional allies and now has to add IU to the mix. That’s a lot of political tendencies to channel, a lot of different feelings that could potentially be hurt, and a lot of egos to handle.

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The resulting coalition creates a more ideological effect than the nonpartisan campaign that Podemos was aiming for. Also, no details of the political project have emerged other than the deliberate attempt to overtake the Socialist Party on election day. If voters are to accept the experiment, the two parties will have to set aside their many differences, perhaps on the basis that the image of unity conveyed by Pablo Iglesias and Alberto Garzón is worth a thousand criticisms and reservations.

But the main point is that the effort required to coalesce these forces into a unified candidacy can only benefit the Popular Party (PP). Nothing serves its own interests better than polarization, as the conservatives can then pit their own proposal for stability (meaning do-nothing policies) against an alternative of “extremists and radicals” that could take Spain to a situation of “uncertainty, instability and insecurity,” to use acting prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s own words. Iglesias’ self-confessed goal of tackling the PP head-on confirms the prospects of a tough campaign in the coming weeks.

Polarization is never good for moderates. A society seeking solutions to specific problems can do without fundamentalist screaming matches. This is why the Socialists must not let their guard down when they are attacked on all flanks, nor should they be distracted by useless infighting just as it they about to get squeezed between the PP and Podemos-IU. All voters must be respected, but the parties need to short-circuit any thoughts of plunging Spain into another battle between irreconcilable ideological blocs. That's a road we don't want to go down again.

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