November 4, 2014
I thought one of the principles of democracy is listening to people and allowing them to give their opinions. If people can’t express their opinions, then it’s not a democracy of great quality.
– Artur Mas, President of Catalonia
We all know that Spain has had very rough go as of late. From 50% youth unemployment, to American financial oligarchs Goldman Sachs and Blackstone entering the nation’s depressed real estate market, it seems Spaniards simply can’t get a break.
As is always the case, at some point all populations snap under the relentless weight of fraud and corruption and demand an end to the status quo. It appears that moment may be near for the Spanish population, as evidenced by the incredible rise of the brand new political party “Podemos,” which translates into “We Can.”
The party was formed earlier this year, and is now leading the polls against both establishment political parties, the Socialists and the People’s Party, which have run the country for the past 32 years. The following graphic perfectly demonstrates the incredible suddenness of its rise:
More from Bloomberg:
Nov. 3 (Bloomberg) –- Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is being challenged on a second front as support for the anti-establishment Podemos party surges before an informal ballot on Catalonian independence.
Podemos was formed less than a year ago to channel Spaniards’ disaffection with Rajoy’s People’s Party and the opposition Socialists, who between them have run the country for the past 32 years.
With corruption allegations again swirling around the PP, that discontent may be reaching tipping point: a poll for El Pais newspaper yesterday showed Podemos doubled its support in a month to a record 28 percent. In doing so, it’s overtaken both main parties, while challenging European attempts to restore political stability after years of debt crisis.
Podemos grew out of the “indignados” movement that saw thousands of Spanish set up camp in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol in 2011 as unemployment soared above 20 percent, peaking at more than 26 percent the following year.
Unfortunately, some of its policies seem destined to further run the Spanish economy into the ground…
With youth unemployment stuck above 50 percent, the group is calling for a program of public investment to create jobs. It also wants to cap the working week at 35 hours and lower the retirement age to 60 to redistribute job opportunities. The group proposes prohibiting profitable companies from firing workers and imposing a maximum wage.
Its program demands an audit of Spain’s public debt to assess what part of it is “illegitimate” and advocates giving euro area governments control over the European Central Bank.
I certainly can’t blame them for questioning the debt.
While the next scheduled national elections that would allow voters to pass judgment on Podemos aren’t due until late 2015, Rajoy faces a more immediate electoral threat in Catalonia on Nov. 9. That’s when nationalists plan to defy his government and the Constitutional Court to hold a volunteer-run ballot on independence.
Separately, the prime minister apologized last week for an “accumulation of scandals” after evidence showed party officials were taking kickbacks to hand out 250 million euros of public contracts while he was administering the harshest budget cuts in Spain’s democratic history.
“Let’s not give the impression, because that is not the reality, of a country immersed in corruption — it’s not true,” Rajoy told parliament in Madrid on Oct. 29. “Politics is a very noble activity, even with errors and mistakes.”
It appears Rajoy is prepping himself for his next career as a comedian.
On a more serious note, Americans need to understand that Spain is merely a few years ahead of us. The question isn’t whether the status quo will be overthrown, the question is what will replace it. Something better, or something worse? Our key mission must be to ensure we get a better system after this one blows up, not something even worse.
Watch Spain closely in the months ahead. It will be another canary in the coal mine for the entire Western world.
This article was posted: Tuesday, November 4, 2014 at 7:19 am