By now we are all aware of Syriza’s win in the Greek elections last week. In the postmortem analyses, more than a few observers have wondered if the radical Left’s success in Greece will embolden similar parties in other European nations. Now, it looks like we’re starting to get our answer. In Spain, who probably has the worst economic and fiscal situation in Europe outside of Greece, the fledging Podemos (“We can”–sound familiar?) Party was able to turn out what’s estimated to be hundreds of thousands of people for a rally. As the Associated Press reports:
Hundreds of thousands of people marched through Madrid on Saturday in a show of strength by a fledgling radical leftist party, which hopes to emulate the success of Greece’s Syriza party in the Spanish general election later this year.
Podemos supporters from across Spain converged around the Cibeles fountain Saturday before packing the avenue leading to Puerta del Sol square in what was the party’s largest rally to date.
The party’s rise is greatly due to the charisma of its pony-tailed leader, Pablo Iglesias, a 36-year-old political science professor.
Hailing from the Madrid working class neighborhood of Vallecas, Iglesias prefers jeans and rolled up shirt sleeves to a suit and tie and champions slogans such as Spain is “run by the butlers of the rich” and that the economy must serve the people.
“We want change,” Iglesias told the crowd. “This is the year for change and we’re going to win the elections.”
The circumstances behind Podemos’ rise are fairly similar to what has happened in Greece. Both countries, as I noted earlier, are struggling economically and financially, both parties leaders are charismatic men around 40 years old, both movements have a strong academic presence (including the leader of Podemos), and both are capturing the hearts and minds of their countries, it seems.* It remains to be seen how successful Podemos will be in the Spanish elections later this year, but if you Angela Merkel or any of her friends in Brussels, there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about a rally like this.
And don’t forget, it can happen here, too. Barack Obama is far from the worst the Left can give us.
*=Some of that description almost sounds like our own country, heh.