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Podemos recruits ex-chief of defense staff for Spanish general election

Anti-austerity party says it is “an honor” to be joined by General Julio Rodríguez Fernández

Jose Julio Rodriguez, ex Jefe de Estado Mayor de la Defensa
General Julio Rodríguez Fernández in a picture taken in 2010.

A former top-ranking military official will be running in Spain’s general election as a candidate for anti-austerity party Podemos.

General Julio Rodríguez Fernández, 67, was Chief of the Defense Staff from 2008 to late 2011, under the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

It is an honor for us to be joined by Julio Rodríguez, a man who has devoted his life to defending his country”

Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias

“He is going to be number two on the Zaragoza list, after Pedro Arrojo,” said Podemos secretary general Pablo Iglesias in a press conference on Wednesday.

“It will be an honor for us if he accepts being defense minister,” said Iglesias, whose party is currently fourth in voting intention polls after the incumbent Popular Party (PP), Ciudadanos and Socialist Party (PSOE).

“It is an honor for us to be joined by Julio Rodríguez, a man who has devoted his life to defending his country, a uniformed citizen and a democrat who has held the highest rank available in the military, and who contributes the solvency, honesty and commitment of a life devoted to others,” he added.

This is not the first high-profile enlistment that the emerging party, which political opponents describe as having a far-left ideology, has made.

On Monday, Podemos announced that another one of its candidates to the Spanish Congress will be Juan Pablo Wert, brother to former education minister José Ignacio Wert, of the conservative PP.

Spain will hold a general election on December 20, a date already viewed as historic because for the first time since the return of democracy in the late 1970s, more than two parties stand a good chance of winning.

English version by Susana Urra.