Before delivering the third part of his series on “Whatever happened to the Indignados?” (See parts one and two), LUKE STOBART has analysed the amazing breakthrough result for Podemos, the new political party that emerged from the 15-M movement, for the UK edition of The Guardian. Just four months after its formation it has won almost 8 percent of the vote in the European elections, gaining five MEPs in the process.
Podemos was launched by Pablo Iglesias, who gained mass popularity through hosting alternative TV debates and by savaging establishment politicians and journalists on mainstream shows, along with members of the revolutionary Izquierda Anticapitalista (Anticapitalist Left) and other activists. The aim of this audacious radical project was to turn a “social majority into a political majority”. Yet the defining feature of Podemos has been its roots in the 15-M (Indignados) movement that occupied city squares in 2011, in which most of its activists participated.
The 15-M fought the lack of “real democracy” in the May elections that year, using the slogan “they [the politicians] don’t represent us”. In opposition to the methods of “representative politics”, protests were organised through mass participatory democracy, as have those of subsequent social movements. This spirit has infused the activity of 400 Podemos “circles” (local groups) set up across Spain and among young emigres in several European cities. Around 33,000 people participated in open primaries to select electoral candidates consisting of “ordinary non-politicians”.
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