With the regional and municipal elections in the spotlight, Podemos starts a tour this November to woo the so-called emptied Spain. In the absence of the “broad front” in which Vice President Yolanda Díaz works, the challenge facing the 2023 elections is twofold. On the one hand, the territorial representation of the party was greatly affected in 2019 and the strengthening of the organization in much of the State has become one of the priority objectives of the new leadership, which has been working on this since it took command before of the summer. On the other hand, the creation of a platform that, with the example of Teruel Existe, gathers together the demands of these areas threatens the electoral interests of the formation and makes it more necessary than ever to relaunch its strategy.
Last September, 160 associations from 30 provinces that represent emptied Spain agreed to implement procedures to create a “political tool” with which to run for the next elections, an initiative that can alter the political map in various autonomous communities. For now, they have already announced that the elections in Andalusia, scheduled for next year, will serve as a baptism of fire. From Podemos, as the first point of its strategy, the party’s organization secretariat, headed by Lilith Verstrynge, plans to visit different territories of Castilla y León throughout November, where its presence is limited. Party sources point out that based on the work of their local cadres and together with the secretariat of the green horizon and rural areas, the formation has developed a strategic plan, which for now does not detail, for these areas of the country. In them he intends to “dump all the organizational and institutional resources” to respond to the needs of a part of the Spanish population that, they consider, has been “unjustly ignored” for decades.
The party also proposes a coordination with the parliamentary work of the deputies of United We Can to “raise to the appropriate instances” the demands of the emptied Spain and the solutions that they propose. The truth is that in recent times the party has accentuated its discourse on these issues, which beyond Castilla y León, affect Asturias, Extremadura or Aragon in a particular way. In a political document published in October that marks the organization’s roadmap for the next decade, Podemos emphasizes the need to guarantee the coverage of public services in these areas or to promote private activity through aid and incentives to companies that are installed in them. Just over a week ago, in a protest against the climate in Madrid, both Verstrynge and the formation’s spokesperson, Pablo Fernández, focused on promoting the traditional railway as the backbone of the territory and a tool against depopulation.
Fernández, in addition, is the secretary general of Podemos in Castilla y León, and one of the only two deputies of the formation in regional Courts with 81 attorneys. The results in these last elections were much lower than those of 2015, when the party obtained 10 seats, although the impact of the party in the community has always been minimal. After the municipal elections of 2019, Podemos retains only 35 councilors in all of Castilla y León, compared to 6,685 of the PP or 3,836 of the PSOE. Izquierda Unida, which concurred separately at the time, won 54 and won the mayoralty of Zamora with an absolute majority. Beyond the emptied Spain, the downward results occurred in a generalized way throughout the country. While in 2015 Podemos took over the local governments of Madrid, Barcelona, Zaragoza, Cádiz, A Coruña, Santiago or Ferrol and was placed as the third force in nine communities, four years later it disappeared from the parliaments of Castilla-La Mancha and Cantabria and it lost the majority of municipalities, although it managed to enter six autonomous governments in coalition.
Aware of this reality, the leadership has spent months trying to strengthen the territorial structure of the party, the Achilles heel of Podemos, and one of the main focuses of attention so far has been Andalusia. There the elections will be held, predictably, before in any other community and the division of the left – where up to four different candidates could concur – limits their electoral aspirations.
We can plan to hold a municipal meeting on December 11 in which all the councilors of the party will be convened and which will be attended by the Secretary General and Minister of Social Rights, Ione Belarra, his number two in the party, Irene Montero, and Verstrynge herself. The training thus seeks to “reinforce” local political work, “jointly analyze the municipal reality” of the country and “draw common strategies”. The raison d’être of this meeting, party sources explain, is to recognize the work they are doing, coordinate their efforts and put “all the resources” of the party at their disposal.
The challenge for 2023 is enormous and the outlook is still very open, starting with the brand. Beyond the strategy drawn up by both Podemos and Izquierda Unida, it will be essential to see how far the “country project” announced by Díaz goes to bring together the political forces to the left of the PSOE. The regional and local ones could be the prelude to general ones in which, for the moment, a good part of the result of United We Can depends on whether the vice president attends or not as head of the list.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.