Iglesias wants Podemos, PP conferences to coincide

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias (right) calls for party congress in early February. Photo: Chema Moya/EFE via La Vanguardia
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• Iglesias preference for Feb 12-14 dates to be decided by ‘Consejo Ciudadano’
• Errejón hopes Dec 17 ‘Consejo’ meeting won’t become ‘showdown at OK corral’

Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Spain’s left-wing populist party Podemos (We Can), has called for the party’s much-anticipated second national congress that will decide Podemos’ future leadership and direction to be held in early February at precisely the same time as the conservative governing Partido Popular (PP) has scheduled its own national conference.

Iglesias announced Monday that his preference is for the Podemos congress to be held from Feb. 12-14 at the same time as the PP conference so that Podemos will be able to juxtapose itsself as the left-wing alternative to the conservative PP, letting the Spanish public see “two completely different programs for the country” on display at precisely the same time. Iglesias said he will present his proposal on Dec. 17th to a meeting of Podemos’ Consejo Ciudadano (‘Citizens Council’), the highest governing body within the party, which is expected to ratify the early February congress dates.

At stake in the upcoming Podemos congress, widely referred to as Vistalegre II after the party’s 2014 founding conference that launched Podemos to prominence on the Spanish political stage, are the election of a new leadership of the three year-old party and definition of the “party line,” with two competing visions of the party presented by Iglesias and Podemos’ number-two leader, Íñigo Errejón, currently vying for the votes of party activists who will assemble in February.

Errejón has tried to play down the perceived rivalry between the Podemos leaders and their highly visible scuffles in social media over whether the party should move to the left and become more militant or shift toward the centre-left to attempt to attract a broader ideological swath of the Spanish electorate. In a video posted via Twitter on Monday, Errejón said he saw no need to turn the upcoming Citizens Council meeting into a “showdown at the OK corral or a cock fight” but that he hoped it would present an opportunity to contrast and debate ideas being aired about the party’s future direction.

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

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