Sunday, May 15, 2016

Varoufakis on Spain’s general election & Podemos’ prospects – op-ed in Newsweek

"Last July, Mariano Rajoy, Spain’s conservative prime minister, exited a 17-hour-long European Council meeting dedicated to Greece, wielding in front of the cameras the surrender document that his Greek counterpart, Alexis Tsipras, had just signed. 

Staring into the camera he told the Spanish people watching at home: “This is what you get by voting for parties like Syriza.”

The crushing of the Athens Spring, together with the soothing fairytale of Spain’s economic “recovery,” was meant to stem the rise of Podemos (a.k.a Spain’s answer to Syriza) and to lead Rajoy to a general election victory in December 2015. Alas, voters had other ideas, denying Rajoy a working majority, giving Podemos a larger share than the pollsters had predicted, and producing a hung parliament.

Since then, frantic negotiations between Rajoy’s People’s Party, the fading Socialists led by Pedro Sanchez, the newfangled neoliberal Citizens’ party and Podemos have failed to produce a coalition government, triggering a fresh general election. The new contest’s outcome will hinge on whether Podemos manages to rise from third to second place, pushing the Socialists into a fate similar to that suffered by the Greek socialists (PASOK) and awaiting the French socialists next year.

If Podemos fails, a grand coalition of the establishment parties, possibly with the addition of the Citizens’ party, is on the cards. But if Podemos manages to shrug off Syriza’s humiliation and overcome Rajoy’s fear mongering to become the second largest party, another hung parliament will spell the end of the two-party system. This will yield a Madrid government inimical to the troika and the ironclad majority that the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has surrounded himself with in the Eurogroup.

Such a development would spell trouble for Europe’s frazzled establishment which, for this reason, is now trying to rush through a new Greek austerity package before the end of May. The hope is to trap Athens into permanent debt bondage before the Spanish voters deliver a verdict likely to alter the balance of power within the Eurogroup.

But will Podemos manage to overtake the Socialists?"

Read more here.

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