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Nine new resignations deepen internal crisis in Podemos party

But Madrid council members say their move does not affect support for the national project

Iñigo Errejón (left) and Pablo Iglesias have denied any internal rift within their party, Podemos. EFE

A fresh wave of resignations in Madrid has deepened ongoing internal strife within Podemos, the anti-austerity party that came in third at Spain’s general elections on December 20.

Nine members of the party’s Madrid Citizen Council announced on Wednesday that they were leaving due to disappointment with their regional leader, Luis Alegre.

In a joint statement, the council’s outgoing members lamented “the drift this body has taken in recent times.”

There is something that they will never forgive us for, Errejón: not being like them

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias

Their decision came two days after the Madrid organization secretary, Emilio Delgado, stepped down for similar reasons.

The departures illustrate a growing confrontation between two separate factions in Podemos: those who support party leader Pablo Iglesias – known informally as pablistas – and those who stand behind the party’s number two man, Iñigo Errejón – the errejonistas.

Madrid leader Luis Alegre, who has been accused by critics of relinquishing his duties, is an Iglesias man. The individuals who just resigned are closer to Errejón.

And Madrid is not the only region where Podemos faces internal dissent: conflicts have also arisen in the Basque Country, Galicia, Catalonia, La Rioja and Cantabria.

Yet everyone in Podemos is rushing to deny any suggestion of a breakup at the national level.

“We want to state that our differences with the political leadership in the Madrid region do not cast any doubt on our commitment to the overall project, and are unrelated to any alleged, fictitious divisions at the state level,” added the Madrid council members’ note.

A show of unity

Meanwhile, Podemos’ top leaders, including Iglesias and Errejón themselves, made a show of unity on the social networks.

“There is something that they will never forgive us for, Errejón: not being like them. It is an honor to be secretary general with you by my side, buddy,” wrote Iglesias on his Twitter account.

“Bad news for those seeking excuses for the great restoration coalition: [we are] with Pablo Iglesias, shoulder to shoulder,” wrote Errejón.

After Podemos Madrid official Emilio Delgado resigned on Monday, nine other people followed suit.

While party officials have denied any internal disagreement, outside observers feel there is a clash over the best strategy to pursue in the negotiations to find a new prime minister for Spain. Podemos initially offered the Socialist Party the chance to create a leftist coalition, but the plans fell through and Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez has since failed in his bid to win office at the recent investiture vote in Congress.

With cross-party negotiations going nowhere and no new prime minister in sight, the possibility of fresh elections in June looms increasingly larger every day. The anti-capitalist faction in Podemos wants Pablo Iglesias to refrain from offering Sánchez support any longer, in order to force this new election.

But not everyone in Podemos feels this way. “Some people want to become a part of [state] management quickly, even if the circumstances are not ideal, while others will want to keep consolidating positions that represent change, and will not be in such a rush to submit to policies that are not their own,” explained Podemos co-founder Juan Carlos Monedero, who himself resigned in April of last year citing ideological differences.

Podemos is also divided over how much decision-making power its grassroots members should have, with some members advocating greater “discipline” from above for the sake of efficiency.

English version by Susana Urra.