Podemos anti-corruption rally fails to fill ‘Puerta del Sol’

Gov't estimates 6,000 at Podemos rally Saturday, organizers claim overflow crowd of 40,000. Photo: El Mundo
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• Rally numbers show tepid support for Podemos’ anti-Rajoy motion of censure
• Focus on PP corruption, Rajoy censure fails to impact PSOE leadership election

A rally in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol plaza convened by anti-austerity party Podemos (We Can) to protest corruption in government and show support for the party’s motion of censure against the conservative Partido Popular (PP) government of President Marian Rajoy failed to fill the capital’s central plaza Saturday on the even of the much-anticipated leadership elections on Sunday of Podemos’ leftwing rival, the Socialist party (PSOE).

Site of the massive 15-M anti-austerity protests in mid-May 2011 over draconian government spending cuts at the height of Spain’s enduring economic crisis that began in 2008, the Puerta del Sol holds 25,000 people at full capacity. Reportedly timed in part to eclipse the PSOE elections by refocusing media attention onto Podemos’ motion of censure registered in Congress last week against the Rajoy government, the rally Saturday saw Podemos organizers bring more than 50 busloads of supporters from across Spain, but photos of the event showed the Puerta del Sol clearly at less than full capacity.

On Friday, representatives of Podemos and its allies in the Unidos Podemos (United We Can) parliamentary group went ahead with registration of a symbolic motion of censure against the Rajoy government, despite the motion’s lack of support from any other opposition parties in Congress. A motion of censure, or motion for a vote of no-confidence, requires a candidate be named to replaced the censured president and the motion registered Friday named Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias as the alternative presidential choice to replace Rajoy.

Following the re-election of former Socialist party secretary-general Pedro Sánchez to the PSOE’s top leadership post on Sunday, the Socialist party is now expected to take up Sánchez’s call during the leadership campaign for the resignation of Rajoy as Spain’s president over the multiple corruption charges now dogging his party. Members of the Sánchez campaign team have also indicated that the PSOE may follow up that call for Rajoy’s resignation with its own motion of censure, which would be negotiated with the rest of the opposition parties in Congress and would put forward Sánchez as the alternative presidential candidate to succeed Rajoy.

► Read More in Spanish at El Mundo, Público and El País …

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