Snap regional elections in Spain as anti-austerity party Podemos leads polls

Since its creation last year, Podemos has rocketed to a leading position in polls

After Greece’s elections, a new European front between traditional parties and their anti-austerity challengers is set to open on Monday when the Andalusian Socialist premier Susana Diaz is all but certain to make a call for snap regional elections for 22 March.

It would act as a curtain-raiser for a year of elections across Spain, with Podemos, a new anti-austerity party, expected to be a serious contender, much like Syriza in Greece. Local elections are due in May, while Catalonia has its own regional vote in September; general elections are most likely in December.

Last Thursday, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias was a guest of honour at one of Syriza’s meetings. “Change in Greece is called Syriza, change in Spain is called Podemos,” he said. “Hope is coming. Onwards to victory with Syriza-Podemos.”

Since its creation last year, Podemos has rocketed to a leading position in polls, netting 28 per cent of the vote in a recent survey for left-leaning El País newspaper; the ruling PP party slumped to 19 per cent. Unemployment in Spain, despite a recovering economy, remains at 23.7 per cent, and 34 per cent in Andalusia.

Andalusia is a socialist stronghold, and it’s possible to see the latest decision as a desire to secure a morale-boosting vote before the real battle begins later this year.

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