Spain’s conservative ruling party and the opposition Socialists are in panic mode as a surge in support for the Podemos Party shows little signs of abating ahead of elections next year.
Less than a year since it was born out of the Indignants protest movement, Podemos, with its pledge to defend the poor and bring to heel the elite “caste” of politicians and bankers, is leading opinion polls.
That has sent the two main parties that have governed Spain since the end of former Spanish leader Francisco Franco’s rule in 1975 panicking.
The deputy leader of Spain’s ruling Popular Party, Maria Dolores de Cospedal, compared Podemos to Venezuela’s left-wing leaders and former Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
“This kind of party, based on demagogy and populism ... is very dangerous for the system and for democracy, for the Popular Party and for any political party,” De Cospedal said last month. “We know they are against everything. We don’t know what they are in favor of.”
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s target was clear when he railed against parties that sow “general mistrust ... pointing the finger at the system,” even if he did not name names on that occasion.
The main opposition party has also taken aim at Podemos.
“Populism has taken institutional form in Podemos,” Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez said. “We call them by their name. They are the ones who have to explain whether or not they defend the regime of Chavez and of Venezuela.”
Analysts say the establishment’s backlash against Podemos is telling.
“It is an attack of panic against the new,” economist Juan Ignacio Crespo said.
Podemos has seen a meteoric rise in Spanish politics.
Just four months after it was formed, it won 1.2 million votes and five seats in the elections for the European parliament in May.
Last month, an opinion poll found that 28.6 percent of respondents would vote for Podemos in next year’s elections. The ruling conservatives got 26.3 percent, while the Socialists had just 20.1 percent, the survey showed.
“We were born to win,” said its pony-tailed leader Pablo Iglesias, a university lecturer. “Our challenge is to build with others a political alternative to govern our country.”
Iglesias has yet to unveil detailed economic policies for his party, but has called for a possible restructuring of Spain’s debt and a rise in the minimum wage.
However, its stance has drawn skeptical responses from Spanish big business, with critics warning that Iglesias’s left-wing economic views might scare off investors.
Newspapers such as the biggest-selling Spanish daily El Pais have covered allegations of misdoings by Podemos leaders.
Among these are accusations that Podemos deputy leader Inigo Errejon claimed pay for a job he did not turn up to at Malaga University.
An El Pais editor said in a recent column that loyal readers were starting to be turned off by what they saw as unfairly harsh coverage of Podemos.
Iglesias is a regular fixture on numerous private channels, which appreciate his commercial value, said Fernando Cano, editor of the specialist media news site PR Noticias.
However, journalists at Spanish national television recently denounced the station’s reluctance to get Iglesias on air for an interview.
“We consider it an unacceptable veto that could be interpreted as censorship,” they wrote.
Since her personal telephone number was posted online, Hong Kong democracy advocate and Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions chairperson Carol Ng has received menacing calls from strangers and been bombarded with messages calling her a “cockroach.” She is not alone. A sophisticated and shady Web site called HK Leaks has ramped up its “doxxing” — where people’s personal details are published online — of Hong Kong democracy advocates, targeting those it says have broken Hong Kong’s National Security Law. Promoted by groups linked to the Chinese Chinese Communist Party and hosted on Russia-based servers, HK Leaks has become the most prominent “doxxing”
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
A Malaysian student whose cellphone was stolen while he was sleeping has tracked down the culprit: a monkey who took photo and video selfies with the device before abandoning it. Zackrydz Rodzi, 20, on Wednesday said that his mobile phone was missing from his bedroom when he woke up on Saturday. He found the phone’s casing under his bed, but there was no sign of robbery in his house in Johor state. JUNGLE When his father saw a monkey the next day, he searched in the jungle behind his house. Using his brother’s cellphone to call his own device, he found it covered
AUSTRALIAN SITE: China has had a contract with SSC’s Yatharagga station since at least 2011, but the last time it used it was in June 2013. No final date has been given China would lose access to a strategic space tracking station in Western Australia when its contract expires, the facility’s owners said, a decision that cuts into Beijing’s expanding space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region. The Swedish Space Corp (SSC) has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the station since at least 2011. The station is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the US and its agencies, including NASA. The Swedish state-owned company said it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after