‘Anticaps’ challenge Podemos in Catalonia, Andalucia

Teresa Rodríguez, leader of Podemos Andalucia and member of party's 'Anticapitalistas' faction. Photo: EFE via El Mundo

• Podemos ‘Anticapitalistas’ support for Catalan plebiscite breaks with party line
• In Andalucia, ‘Anticaps’ push for statutes, more autonomy from national party

Spain’s three-year-old national anti-austerity party Podemos (We Can) appears to be coming under the same sort of regional and factional strains that have long plagued its larger rival, the federally structured Socialist party (PSOE), as challenges to important policy issues and organisational control emerge from the party’s Anticapitalistas wing, which holds sway in key Podemos’ regional organisations in both Catalonia and Andalucia.

In a challenge to central party control, the Anticapitalistas faction last week issued a statement supporting a unilateral independence referendum in the northeast region of Catalonia in direct contravention to the national Podemos party line. Earlier this month, Podemos’ national leadership rejected any independence vote not mutually negotiated and agreed to by the Catalan regional authorities and Madrid’s central government.

The surprise Anticapitalistas statement was seen as bolstering the position of dissident Podemos activists aligned with the Anticapitalistas in Catalonia, a thorn in the side of Podemos secretary general Pablo Iglesias who has been stymied in efforts to bring the Catalan regional party affiliate Podem into line with Podemos national policy dictates.

Part of the broad coalition of anti-austerity activists, movements and organizations that merged to form Podemos as a political party in 2014, the Anticapitalistas are led by Podemos’ member of the European Parliament Miquel Urban and Andalucian Podemos leader Teresa Rodríguez, who won the regional Podemos leadership contest in Andalucia last November with 75 percent of all ballots cast.

In Andalucia, Rodríguez continues to push against the wishes of Podemos secretary general Pablo Iglesias for separate statutes and an organizational structure that would give the Andalucian party its own identity, provide it with an affiliate relationship with the national Podemos organisation akin to the federated structure of the Socialists and make it far less subject to control by the national party leadership based in Madrid.

Despite the friction with the national party, the Anticaps have been known to provide key support in national policy disputes to the party’s dominant Pablista faction aligned with Iglesias against the so-called Errejonistas, a more moderate faction that has coalesced around the party’s former chief electoral strategist, Íñigo Errejón.

The Anticapitalistas were previously known as Izquierda Anticapitalista (Anti-capitalist Left), a latter-day iteration of Spain’s Liga Comunista Revolucionaria (LCR, or Revolutionary Communist League), a member organization of the Trotskyist Fourth International. Although today considered a key third pillar of Podemos and part of the party’s national structure, the Anticapitalistas continue to maintain a separate identity and website, issuing communiques that occasionally run counter to the official Podemos party line.

► Read More in Spanish at El Mundo, El Periódico and El Diario …

► Read Catalan referendum statement in Spanish from ‘Anticapitalistas’, here …

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