AS the four main parties gear up to contest Spain’s second election in just over six months, the brunt of the weekend’s attention was on anti-austerity insurgents Podemos.
In a remarkable television interview the Director General of the National Police accused Podemos of being a threat to Spanish democracy.
“We should not be afraid, but we must be very clear with our ideas, and those ideas are that this political project implies a threat to our democracy,” said Ignacio Cosido to the mounting surprise of his fellow guests.
“Podemos represents a left-wing totalitarian project whose consequences, I think, any citizen can see with what’s happening at the moment in Venezuela,” likely referring to economic chaos in the troubled South-American country and extreme political tensions.
“What seems most dangerous to me about Podemos is that in their political doctrine is the seed of the justification of violence, because they believe themselves to be the only representatives of the people, and that is what in real communist regimes led to a full justification of violence as a political instrument,” he argued, touching upon the classic distinction between positive and negative liberty.
It was an unusually stark and constitutionally controversial assault on the left-wing party which secured more than five million votes in December, becoming the nation’s third largest in the process.
A fellow guest on the show, which broadcast on 13TV, cautioned the director, warning that “there might be trouble with what you’re saying tomorrow…you’re the Director General of the Police.”
The National Police typically deal with judicial, immigration and terrorism matters and officers are sworn to act with “absolute political neutrality and impartiality and, in consequence, without any discrimination for reasons of race, religion or opinion.”
Pablo Iglesias, the charismatic Podemos leader replied to the director’s claims on Sunday May 1 with a barbed tweet suggesting “Spain deserves a director general of Police who is a professional and not a chat show participant on 13TV.”
Meanwhile in news that is certain to raise the director’s suspicions, negotiations between Podemos and Izquierda Unida (the United Left) to form an electoral coalition ahead of the scheduled June 26 vote are going well according to spokesmen of the respective parties.
A proposed coalition could also include regional left-wing parties such as MES in Mallorca and increase the participation of smaller groups allied to Podemos, especially due to their commitment to holding a referendum in Catalonia.
The United Left itself is a very broad coalition of independent and left leaning groups formed as an alternative to the Socialist party PSOE which dominated the Spanish left for decades until the rise of Podemos.
The key question is whether an evolved coalition of the left, united against the status quo, and using the 2015 election as valuable experience, can surmount a plausible rival bid to gain the trust of voters ahead of the established PSOE.
If this were to come to pass it would require a leap of faith on the part of the left leaning Spanish electorate who will be watching the growing support of incumbent right-wing party the PP with concern.