Unidos Podemos: What went wrong on 26-J?

Pablo Iglesias (left) with Podemos' number-two leader Íñigo Errejón on election night. Photo: Jose Luis Roca / El Periódico
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• Internal Podemos factions try to lay blame for loss of 1.2 million votes
• Theories range from Brexit scare to grave ‘Podemos Unidos’ miscalculation

The leadership of Spain’s insurgent left-wing Unidos Podemos coalition continued Tuesday to try to figure out what exactly happened in Sunday’s general elections to cause the coalition’s much-touted ‘sorpasso’ (literally, ‘surpassing’) of the Socialist party (PSOE) as the leader of the left-opposition to fizzle into a disappointing result marked by the loss of 1.2 million votes from the coalition partners’ combined results in the last general election in December.

Internal factions of coalition leader Podemos (We Can) have been airing their grievances on social messaging platform Telegram, with supporters of the party’s number-two leader Íñigo Errejón claiming the poor showing was due to a disastrous miscalculation by supporters of Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias of the number of votes that the last-minute alliance engineered between Podemos and left-wing Izquierda Unida (IU, United Left) would yield.

Iglesias has also come in for criticism for immediately saying on election night that Podemos would continue in coalition with Izquierda Unida, even before any post-mortem analysis the election results had taken place. Supporters of Iglesias on Telegram, meanwhile, echoed criticisms from Podemos co-founder Juan Carlos Monedero in asking whether Podemos was paying too much attention to the election polls and was mistaken in watering down its ideological message in order to attract the broadest possible electorate, a strategy long supported by Errejón.

An additional thesis that has taken form is that shock waves from the Brexit vote in the UK on Friday scared supporters of Podemos and centre-right party Ciudadanos to shift their votes to the the respective establishment parties of the left and the right. But, while evidence that may have occurred on the political right with votes shifting from centre-right Ciudadanos to the conservative Partido Popular (PP), the Socialist party actually lost seats in Sunday’s election and did not appear to have benefited from any shift of Podemos voters back to the Socialist ranks as a result of the Brexit news.

► Read More in Spanish at El País and El Periódico …

► Read More in English at The New York Times …

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