Podemos’ success makes them a major player Spanish parliament has 350 seats.
This is a spectacular success, considering that Podemos is a new political party which is currently not even a year old, having been founded on March 2014.
Shortly after that, in regional elections held in Spain a few months ago, they got a decent chunk of votes and entered a governing alliance with PSOE (center-left, socialist party) in Madrid Parliament – an important constituency.
With the current election results, Podemos may easily become a partner of the next government of Spain.
The real meaning behind Podemos success
Podemos was founded by the segments of the society, especially youth, in reaction to back-breaking austerity which is being enforced on Spain by Eu since some time:
After the global banking crash of 2008, private banks in Spain needed bailouts in order to stay afloat. Euzone countries, led mainly by Germany, have provided these loans to Spanish government to have them bail out these private banks.
The catch here is that, Germany has a lot of stake in these private banks due to subsidiaries of German banks being in Spain, or through major German investors having shares in these private banks. So in a sense, Germany has been doing more to bail out the private profits of its shareholders than doing anything relevant to Spain.
Basically, Eurozone countries have burdened the Spanish taxpayer with paying the bailouts of multinational private banks.
In the process of loaning bailout loans around Europe, Germany made ~40 billion Euro profits as well.
But there is a problem – all that loan interest must come from somewhere.
Hence back-breaking austerity was forced on Spain, not only pushing their economy into a stagnation but also cutting healthcare, education, social security and even forcing privatization of these services and anything else – another target of the austerity program.
These polices wrecked Spain.
Spaniards from all segments have been pushed into poverty, to the point that child poverty became an issue in a major European country for the first time. Suicides due to austerity, families losing their homes, emigration due to lack of jobs have become a feature of the scenery.
Most affected from these is the youth. Which form the bulk of Podemos voters. They advocate horizontal political processes, democratic participation, citizen engagement and collective policy making – new concepts which came to being with the rise of internet and digital revolution.
Podemos formed from the anti-austerity protest movements, and turned into a political party by the time right wing Spanish government had legislated laws which banned protests near government buildings and brought fines for ‘disrespecting’ police officers – something which was criticized all across Europe, being unprecedented laws in contrast with European democratic practices.
Over a duration less than a year, all kinds of smears, criticism and even falsities were voiced and propagated against Podemos by government-aligned private media and pundits, ranging from diminishing their importance to dismissing them as ‘kids’.
Outrageous, if you take a second to realize that these people of under 45 year olds, constitute a vast chunk of Spanish population, and dismissing and diminishing an entire segment of population is not explicable under a democracy.
But being young, unfriendly to old establishment and politics, coming up with all these new concepts of citizen participation in politics, new technological tools of communication and organization, garnered all kinds of reactions from the established politics – to the extent that they were claimed to be fading.
They didn’t. They won the 3rd place in the parliament seats, and now in a position to form the next government if no other party accepts the coalition offer from the right wing incumbent PP, ‘Partido Popular’.
Many implications for future
Currently, cohorts of young people are celebrating their victory in front of Podemos headquarters.
They successfully changed the face of entire Spanish politics by asserting their power and rights through democratic elections, much to the dismay of established, old political perceptions.
Their success does not only signal a refusal of ill-advised, for-profit Eu austerity program.
It signals a change of politics, the first glimpse of a transfer of power from the older generations to young, educated and active people.
These ‘kids’ are in command of digital world, get their information from many sources, are active in social networks in regard to political and civil activism, they organize, collaborate and cooperate through new, technological tools which are alien to generations of old timers.
Podemos has a lot of old people among their ranks, make no mistake. Informed, educated people who are aware of what’s what – people who can’t be fooled by the old type of tirade that is delivered in retirement houses by representatives old-age parties, who have a habit of sending their campaign buses to particularly retirement houses. A favorite method of the incumbent right wing party, Partido Popular.
Now, these young kids who are this active and informed, did not only enter regional parliaments and sent their representatives to European Parliament, but also gained a decent chunk of the parliament of a major European country like Spain. A bloc of young people, backed and voted in by young people, bringing the views of young people into politics, for the first time.
It is apparent that the old, incumbent establishment will scream at the top of its lungs against this new, up and coming generation that is the future of society.
It is inevitable that these young people will have successes, and mistakes as well.
But, the change has begun, and a new world will be shaped by Podemos and those who will follow their example – all across the world.
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