New Political Parties

In Spain two new parties have emerged to challenge the dominance of PP and PSOE. The first on the scene was UPyD (Unión, Progreso y Democracy),which was formed at the end of 2007, the principal founders being Rosa Díez, Mikel Buesa and Fernando Savater, with Rosa Díez as leader. In 2009 she won a seat in the European Parliament, one of the 54 allocated to Spain. The party suffered a setback when in July 2009 Mikel Buesa resigned from the party in protest at what he saw as Rosa Díez”s authoritarian manner. Since then it has recovered and grown so that in May of this year it won four seats in the European elections, and was soon rated third most popular party after the two big parties. However, another new party has grown even more rapidly to the point where it now has 250,000 members, more than either of the two main parties., even though it was only formed in January of this year.In May it received 8% of the votes, taking 5 seats in the European Parliament Podemos (We Can), led by an academic from the Complutense University of Madrid, Pablo Iglesias, has its origins in the mass demonstrations and occupations of 2011, when several thousand people descended on La Puerta del Sol, the Plaza in Madrid from which distances from the capital are measured, and in 58 other cities around Spain. This movement was variously known as Movimiento 15M (named after the 15th May when these demonstrations took place) or Los Indignados (The Indignant Ones). This was a widespread protest at what was seen as the mishandling of the banking crisis, whereby the public at large were required to make good the financial cost of bailing out the banks, a debt that they had not incurred, but which they were being made to repay. That movement eventually fizzled out as it had no coherent structure and no policies apart from the issue which had brought people onto the streets; it has now resurfaced as Podemos with a charismatic leader and has grown so rapidly that a recent opinion poll puts support for Podemos higher than for PP and PSOE. That is worrying, if sustained, because in Spain you vote for the party, not the individual, and so when elections come in October of next year Spain could see a party elected to government which did not exist two years earlier, and from which so far nothing in the way of a manifesto has emerged, apart from its opposition to the corruption which has become endemic in Spanish politics, something which UPyD also opposes. It remains to be seen whether Podemos is a viable political entity or whether, like a firework, it soars high into the sky only to explode and die.

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