“We are relieved,” said Pablo Iglesias. And similar words echoed from the other side: “The feeling is comfort,” agreed a leader close to Yolanda Díaz. Seeing the image of divorce is almost inevitable: the relationship between Sumar and Podemos is like a couple who can no longer stand each other, but continue to live together without inertia. The way in which those from Ione Belarra announced their departure from the Mixed Group of Congress on Tuesday caught those from Díaz by surprise. But both knew that the separation was only a matter of time.
“It gives the impression that they decided long before the parliamentary group was formed,” Sumar’s deputy spokesperson in Congress and member of Comromís, Àgueda Micó, said on Saturday to RNE. You just need to set a date, and the general belief is that Podemos will wait until the European elections on June 9 are approaching. But, true to its history, the announcement came with a bang. This time it is not Iglesias personally, although it is his television channel, which reserves the “exclusive” right to anticipate the end of the relationship.
Like a curse, the left repeated its old history and, amid a very difficult offensive of the right against the majority that emerged from the previous elections, it suffered the 10th division of the han -is it. In the process, it further complicates the confusing parliamentary geometry facing the coalition government. Podemos, ravaged by territories, seeks to rearm itself to survive by fighting the war from the outside. Sumar is left with 26 representatives and five portfolios of the Government, where he hopes to use his management to spread throughout Spain, giving himself a structure that he lacks and leaving the diminishing formation of Belarra without space.
Podemos decided to break at its weakest moment, with an almost unfathomable record of defeats this year. In May he was absent from five of the six executives of the autonomous coalition in which he was. In the Valencian Community, Madrid and the Canary Islands it became extra-parliamentary, as before in Galicia, Castilla-La Mancha and Cantabria. The party is also mired in an ERE affecting all workers in nine regional offices. In up to five communities it is in the hands of managers due to the resignation of previous managements. In Asturias, the only regional representative, Covadonga Tomé, was suspended for militancy.
The day before Congress broke up, its general secretary in Madrid, Jesús Santos, resigned, criticizing Sumar’s “incomprehensible” fight. Santos has gained a lot of influence in the leadership, and many in Sumar believe that his departure triggered the Congress movement as a defensive maneuver to stop the defections. The Madrid leader is also the Secretary of Municipal Policies and his departure marks the fourth executive this year, including Belarra’s number two in the Ministry of Social Rights, Nacho Álvarez. These days the departure of the party of Jéssica Albiach, leader of En Comú Podem in the Parliament, is also known.
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Publicly and privately, Podemos leaders justified the sudden stop as the only possible way out after being “cornered” and “silenced” within the parliamentary group. The day after the general election, Belarra went public to criticize Sumar’s results when the left celebrated that the right was left without a majority. That intervention angered Díaz. When everything is so damaged, it becomes impossible. The new parliamentary group excludes Podemos from the distribution of representatives, a way of depriving it of a signature so that it can present initiatives on its own. He was also not given a voice in the investments of Pedro Sánchez and Alberto Núñez Feijóo, nor the request of Belarra to speak on Tuesday in the parliamentary debate on the war in Gaza, where the position was set by Sumar’s Foreign Spokesperson. , the former ambassador to the UN Agustín Santos. That was the last reason they gave for closing the door that day. “The excuse,” said the others.
Various sources from the group point out that the situation has heated up after Díaz hired Noelia Vera, a former and very close collaborator of Iglesias and Irene Montero, as director of communications at the Ministry of Labor. Members of some of Sumar’s parties privately believe that the vice president does not know how to give Podemos more space and that, in the face of their attacks, he has become more closed. The circle closest to Díaz remembers that he endured in silence for many months the public attacks of Iglesias and his followers. And he emphasized that Podemos, a day before the separation, was given several spokespersons in the Congress committees, as well as positions at the tables, which Sumar hastened to withdraw from them.
The questions are piling up: what is Podemos’ roadmap? Is the legislature at risk? What happens in different territories? “The road map was made for us by Yolanda,” said ironically a cadre close to the leadership of Podemos, who believed that Sumar “opened the door and pushed” them to leave. The party is very cautious when it comes to revealing the next steps, although no one hides the interest in creating a kind of clamp on the Congress with the left-wing nationalist forces (ERC, EH Bildu and BNG). The representative of the Basque party Oskar Matute welcomed this strategy to Radio Euskadi: “19 deputies will push deep left policies.”
Belarra spoke on Tuesday with the Minister of Justice, Félix Bolaños, to assure him that his five votes will not put the Government at risk. Despite the inexorable decline of recent months, party leaders still see themselves as capable of “reclaiming leadership” in the political space of the PSOE’s left. And they hope to gain visibility, put pressure on the Government, start steps to sell them as their own and insist on the criticism of Sumar, common before the separation, as a “submissive left .” Those from Díaz predicted little success for this strategy because, they argued, his former colleagues could not risk endangering the Government by uniting their votes with the right to a more radicalized discourse. “Their thing is to howl a little,” summed up a Sumar leader. “All they have to do is add ‘and two hard-boiled eggs’ to any measure.”
In the territories, so far, no effects have been recorded. In Extremadura, where the coalition of Podemos with IU and Alianza Verde has two deputies, and in Navarra, with the presence of the autonomous Government, the sources consulted assured that no ruptures were seen, as in Andalusia. For the first half of 2024, regional elections will come to Galicia, the community of Díaz, and the Basque Country. The Galicians will probably be the first and will be an important test for Sumar. His predecessors left the autonomous Parliament in 2020, and left-wing voters are strongly contested by PSOE and BNG. Podemos has little strength and it seems that the split has consequences. Sumar’s parliamentary spokesperson, also Galician Marta Lois, was frank to TVE: “Because of this unilateral decision, it is, at the very least, complicated and difficult to understand that Podemos wants to be present and justifiably present in Sumar Galicia. . “
In Euskadi, the Elkarrekin Podemos brand has six representatives and talks have been initiated for a joint candidacy between Sumar, Podemos, IU and Equo. “Separation will not make things easier, but everyone is negotiating and away from the Galician noise,” said a source familiar with the negotiations, who predicted that it would be difficult.
In Sumar they are convinced that Podemos does not have the capacity to reach even half a million votes throughout Spain, less than 2% of the cast in the general election. However, this is enough to achieve a seat in Europe in June, where Irene Montero is the favorite for candidacy. In other elections on the continent, in 2014, Podemos erupted like a storm shaking Spanish politics. A decade later, other Europeans will decide whether it still has the strength to survive.
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