Spain: Pablo Iglesias, head of Podemos, will leave the government

The main drama in Spain: Pablo Iglesias, leader of the radical left of Podemos, announced on Monday that he would be leaving the government to take part in the regional elections in Madrid.

Podemos radical left leader Pablo Iglesias surprised Spain when he announced on Monday that he was leaving a tense government to take part in the regional elections in Madrid, a very risky bet. “I will run in the Madrid region in the May 4th elections,” said Pablo Iglesias, a 42-year-old former political science professor, in a video posted on social media. “I have informed Pedro Sanchez (head of the socialist government) of my decision to leave my post in government when the election campaign starts,” he added.

In Montauban in southwest France, where he was attending a Franco-Spanish summit with French President Emmanuel Macron, Pedro Sanchez said he wished “Mr Iglesias) the best of luck in his new political adventure”.

Spectacular turn of events

Pablo Iglesias, Podemos founder and number one since its inception in 2014, also said current Labor Minister Yolanda Diaz will replace him as the party’s candidate in the next general election, slated for 2023. A little over a year later, Podemos was founded. This move is the country’s first coalition government since the end of the Franco dictatorship and a real political coup in Spain.

He intervenes against the background of growing tensions between the socialists of Pedro Sanchez and Podemos, the two formations that make up the minority executive, one of the four vice-presidents of which Pablo Iglesias has been since January 2020. By leaving the executive branch, the latter “can more easily devote itself to political criticism”, analyzes Pablo Simon, professor of political science at Carlos III University in Madrid. Pablo Iglesias, a division of socialists, initially faced Pedro Sanchez’s veto when he entered the government, before the socialist finally gave in after the new elections in November 2019.

While Podemos is in decline, this decision is also a very risky bet for Pablo Iglesias, who is leaving the national political scene with no certainty of turning to the right the richest region in the country, which it has ruled for more than 25 years . “It’s a delusion, the cost is enormous,” while “everyone gives the beaten left” in Madrid, judge Anton Losada, political scientist at the University of Santiago de Compostela.

“A strong but risky bet”

“It’s a tough bet, but politically risky. He can lose as much as Isabel Diaz Ayuso,” added the current President of the Paloma Roman Region, professor of political science at the Complutense University of Madrid, where Pablo Iglesias taught.

Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a rising figure in the tough right-wing People’s Party, also came as a surprise last week when she broke off her alliance with the liberal Ciudadanos party to hold early elections, a decision that will reshape the landscape on the right . She said she feared the same fate as the PP in the Murcia region (southeast), where she was also allied with Ciudadanos. The Liberals have effectively turned around in this region to promote a motion of censure against the PP among the Socialists in order to oust the Conservatives from power.

“Madrid will be a battle”

With the arrival of Pablo Iglesias, the regional ballot in Madrid strengthens its national dimension. With a “candidate of this dimension […] Madrid will be a battle. It is a very important region, it is not a region like any other and the left has been absent for more than twenty years, “says Paloma Roman.

Isabel Diaz Ayuso and the right made it a struggle between “communism” and “freedom”, as she said on Twitter on Monday.


4 of Mayo.

– Isabel Díaz Ayuso (@IdiazAyuso) March 15, 2021

She claims she wants to win an absolute majority in order to rule the region alone, but may have to ally with the far right of Vox, which she already supports but is not part of its executive branch. A possible entry of Vox into a regional executive would be a first in Spain since the breakthrough of this ultra-nationalist formation a little over two years ago, which has become the third political force in the country.