• Podemos’ Citizens Council postpones definition of party direction
• Iglesias losing internal allies, appeals to membership with ‘firebrand’ image
Leaders of anti-austerity party Podemos (We Can) failed to make headway in defining the future direction of the party at a general assembly meeting saturday on its Citizens Council, the party’s maximum deliberative body. The party is faced with clear divisions within the leadership over whether Podemos should return to its roots of direct action and street protest or reach out to a broader, centre-left swathe of voters to try and regain the 1 million votes it lost in the last general election in June.
Awaiting the outcome of the Socialist party (PSOE) decision on whether or not to abstain on a vote in Congress that would put acting-Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Partido Popular (PP) back in office for another four years, the Podemos leadership is also caught in the midst of its own drawn-out leadership contest, with Podemos primary leadership elections upcoming in three regions and 12 cities.
In those elections, supporters of the militant direct-action populism espoused by Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias are facing off against supporters of the broader “transversal” electoral strategy proposed by the party’s number-two leader, Iñigo Errejón.
Iglesias, said to be losing support from principal allies within the party leadership in the debate over Podemos’ direction, is reverting to his image as a “firebrand” leader in an apparent effort to ramp up support from the party rank-and-file membership. In an interview with La Sexta television over the weekend, Iglesias reduced the leadership battle to one of personality traits: “I’m more direct and incendiary; Iñigo Errejón is more prudent and timid.”