CRISIS in PODEMOS

Podemos dismisses top party official in effort to avoid internal rebellion

Leader Iglesias assumes control of territorial decisions after removing organization secretary

Former Podemos organization secretary Sergio Pascual.

In a surprise move, Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias fired a top aide late on Tuesday, accusing him of “deficient management whose consequences have seriously hurt the party.”

Sergio Pascual, the anti-austerity party’s organization secretary until last night, was told that he should have done a better job of dealing with the recent crisis in Madrid, where 10 party officials resigned in protest over their superior’s leadership style.

“The latest events demonstrate a deficient management whose consequences have seriously hurt Podemos at such a delicate moment

Podemos statement

Those resignations underscored a growing division between supporters of Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias and backers of his right-hand man, Iñigo Errejón. The outgoing officials in Madrid were all behind Errejón – as was Sergio Pascual, the abruptly dismissed organization secretary.

The unprecedented move sends out the message that the leadership will not tolerate an internal rebellion within the two-year-old party, which came in third in the Spanish general election on December 20.

Aware that it could play a pivotal role in the formation of a new government, Podemos has been struggling to determine whether it should team up with the Socialist Party in a leftist coalition, and what concessions, if any, it is ready to make in order to reach power.

Party members range from anti-capitalists who take an idealistic, yield-nothing stance to more pragmatic individuals who see in the current situation a chance to effect change from within the system.

“The latest events demonstrate a deficient management whose consequences have seriously hurt Podemos at such a delicate moment as the negotiation process to create a government of change,” reads the statement released at around 11.30pm on Tuesday, after the decision to remove Sergio Pascual from his management post.

Pascual’s response on Twitter was swift. “Two years working myself to the bone building organization and popular participation. I remain committed to the project of majorities for change.”

With the Socialist Party now apparently willing to resume talks following a period of confrontation, Iglesias is keen to show that his party is a united group

Just hours earlier, top leader Pablo Iglesias had sent a letter to party members with a clear message contradicting reports of internal strife within Podemos.

“In Podemos, there are not, nor must there ever be, currents or factions competing for apparatus and resource control,” said the letter. “The Madrid resignations took place at the worst possible time and provided fodder for the story that supporters of the status quo like to tell. We must not commit a mistake of this kind again, and accountability must be demanded.”

The dismissal of Sergio Pascual also means that the secretary general’s office is taking over his duties until a new appointment is made. This gives the top leader additional power over territorial decisions precisely at a time when Podemos is facing regional divisions in Catalonia, Galicia, the Basque Country, La Rioja and Cantabria.

With the Socialist Party and Podemos now apparently willing to resume talks following a period of confrontation, Iglesias is keen to show that his party is a united group.

“It is crucial for each and every one of us to be up to the task and to not play into the hands of our adversaries,” said Iglesias in his letter to party members.

English version by Susana Urra.

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