Spanish Voters Reject Austerity, Boost New Podemos Party

Posted Dec. 30, 2015

MP3 Interview with Mark Weisbrot, co-director, Center for Economic and Policy Research, conducted by Scott Harris


In Spain's Dec. 20 parliamentary election, voters sent a clear message to the nation's two major political parties, rejecting the policies of the past as they signaled their yearning for new leadership. While the ruling conservative People's Party won the most seats, followed by the opposition Socialist Party, the surprise third place finish of the new anti-austerity leftist Podemos party upended Spain's conventional politics. Another new party, the business-friendly Ciudadanos, or Citizens party, came in fourth place.

Podemos was born less than two years ago in March 2014, after massive protests erupted across Spain against staggering unemployment, rising inequality and corruption. The party, led by Pablo Iglesias, a 37-year-old professor, offered voters a program that opposes Eurozone austerity measures and advocates policies to increase employment and public investment in education, as well as progressive tax reform.

With no party holding a majority in Spain's parliament, negotiations have begun to form a new coalition government. However, Podemos has ruled out talks to form an alliance with larger parties, and instead is proposing a "social emergency" law that would prevent families from being evicted for not paying their mortgage and provides resources to retirees so they can afford to buy medicines. Between The Lines' Scott Harris spoke with Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, who examines the significance of Spain's election results and the economic conditions that explains why voters effectively ended Spain's two-party system.

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