One of the most notable aspects of the last elections is the collapse of Podemos. In 2015 it obtained 5.2 million votes (only 340,000 less than PSOE) and won many of the main municipalities. Now, four years later, it has lost 1.5 million votes and has run out of municipal governments and without the majority of regional deputies. This collapse, which has developed at breakneck speed, is not only an electoral collapse but also a decomposition crisis.
By Víctor Alai
PODEMOS: the new policy transformed into the left wing of the regime
Podemos became known in the European elections of 2014. It was formed by picking up the wave of social and political indignation unleashed with the 15-M and denouncing the “regime of 78” and its parties (“PSOE, PP, la misma mierda es” ). Soon, together with Syriza, it became an international reference of a new left that would displace the antiquated social democrats, discredited and in crisis after leading the savage adjustment plans that followed the capitalist crisis of 2008.The leaders of Podemos were the apostles of “new politics” that replaced the antiquated class struggle for the conflict between “people and caste” and the socialist revolution for the “deepening of democracy.” In this way, they promised to recover the Welfare State and “refound” the European Union (EU).
The first political appearance of Podemos was with the manifesto “Mover Ficha”(new deal) , where it showed a radical face. It demanded the repeal of article 135 of the Constitution and a moratorium on the payment of public debt while a “citizen audit” was being carried out. It vindicated the nationalization of private banks and energy companies and demanded the repeal of immigration laws and NATO’s departure.
This initial radicalism, however, lasted very little. Already in the following electoral event the most disruptive elements were eliminated, in a process to the right that continued without rest. Internally, Iglesias bureaucrat tendency was accentuated, groups were dismantled and Podemos became an electoral apparatus where the bosses and allies decided without consulting the base. When it was convenient, the “enlisted”, in a parody of internal democracy, were called to vote, by Internet the decisions already taken by the leaders. To make matters worse, Iglesias, who had presumed to belong to a working class neighborhood, moved to his villa in Galapagar, in the mountains of Madrid.The PSOE soon ceased to belong to the enemy “caste”. When it was in a coma, Podemos came to the rescue and was instrumental in elevating Sánchez and allowing the recovery of the PSOE.
Podemos’ last electoral campaign has been pitiful. The axis of the speech of Iglesias was begging for a seat in the Sanchez government, abandoning all criticism of the PSOE and adjusting the program to what Sanchez could accept: everything had to fit within the regime and the dictates of the E.U. At each rally, Iglesias adhered to the Constitution of 78, mentioning empty articles on social rights without any legal liability. With a campaign like that, why vote for Podemos, when you can vote for PSOE? Podemos is the one who deactivated the powerful response that emerged from the 15-M and integrated it into the framework of the monarchical regime. It became its left wing ,and finally, an auxiliary force of the PSOE.
The loss of “change councils”
Podemos has lost the “change councils”. The reason must be sought in the contrast between the electoral promises and a management that has not improved the living conditions of the popular sectors, while big businesses have continued to prosper. The proposed changes have been reduced to “rhetoric” and small achievements , usually surrounded by much publicity. At no time have they confronted legality, rather they have scrupulously respected it.
There have also been scandalous actions such as that of Carmena in Madrid, endorsing the repression against puppeteers, the real estate speculation in “Operation Chamartín” or the recent Argumosa Street evictions in the Lavapiés neighborhood.
In Barcelona, Ada Colau, despite losing the elections to the ERC, has retained her position as mayor thanks to a pact with the PSC-PSOE and the votes of the former French prime minister, the reactionary Manuel Valls. Colau’s actions constitute, above all , whitewashing of the PSC-PSOE, a necessary accomplice of the 155 and someone closely associated with the big Barcelona bourgeoisie. Now they present it, as the great partner of a “progressive government”.
In the Autonomous Community of Castilla-La Mancha, Podemos became part of the regional government of the PSOE. With only three deputies, the local leader was named “vice president” of Page and Podemos became the lap dog of a social-liberal and privatizing government. Now, it has disappeared from the region’s map .
The collapse of Podemos requires deep reflection. Its collapse provokes confusion in many and a sense of impotence in a sector of activists that during these years had come to place their trust in Podemos as an alternative to corrupt social democrats sold out to capital.
Life has shown that there are no easy solutions, based on the construction of electoral apparatus and ephemeral triumphs. That nobody is going to save us the daily work of building a revolutionary force rooted in the workers’ and people’s movement and among the youth. A force for whom the necessary participation in elections is an instrument at the service of struggles and the defense of a revolutionary program. A force that struggles to build another 15M, this time more massive, working class and popular, democratically self-organized, that does not allow itself to be institutionalized, but instead confronts the monarchical regime to open the way to a constituent process and to a socialist transformation.
Those who pleaded for Syriza and Podemos are in mourning. Now they only have the Portuguese Bloco d’Esquerda, whose main objective is the same as Iglesias: to be part of the PS government. The final destination will be similar.