Podemos mobilises the masses in Spain
Over one hundred thousand supporters of the left-leaning party Podemos demonstrated on Saturday in Madrid in a "March for Change". Syriza and Podemos have the potential to channel indignation into constructive politics, some commentators write. Others fear a rise of left-wing populism.
Indignation becomes politics
Podemos and Syriza are giving the indignant a political voice, philosopher Josep Ramoneda writes in the left-liberal daily El País: "These are not movements that call the system into question. We are not on the brink of a revolution. People are simply sick and tired of encapsulated parties and a democracy that is falling apart because of the promiscuity between politics and money. ... What makes Podemos unique is that it has dared to turn the indignation into a political option and say: 'We are going to win!'. For those in charge it's intolerable. It is not the emerging parties that pose a threat to democracy but the institutions' unwillingness to cede power and open up the field for others. With the two-party system ever fewer citizens can find a place in democracy."
Podemos and Syriza pave the way for renewal
Unfortunately the movements in Greece and Spain have had no influence on the policies of the French government, the communist daily L'Humanité writes after the mass rally by Podemos supporters: "Social decline as a programme! Neither the victory of Syriza in Greece nor the size of the march for change organised on Saturday by Podemos in Spain have made the French government budge even an inch on its economic choices. Yes, everything can change. But since Syriza's election it's no longer taken for granted that change must mean a shift to the right. One week after the victory of the anti-austerity party in Greece, the anti-liberal masses hit the streets in Spain. These movements comprising the humiliated, the impoverished, the rebels and the solidarity-minded are contributing to the renewal of democratic practices. They prove that the voice of the people can be heard in public debate: the grain of sand in the European machine."
More than just naysayers
It became clear on Saturday that Podemos is more than just a protest movement, the liberal daily Jutarnji List believes: "The movement's leader Pablo Iglesias has understood far better than Tsipras that rather that just saying 'no' all the time you also have to come up with your own proposals. That's just what 'Occupy Wall Street' didn't understand. 'We were beaten because we could say no but nothing else', as cult author Naomi Klein summed it up. Podemos has learned from that, as you could see from the banners with the words, 'Yes', or 'Yes, we can do it together'. Of course this movement is populist, and of course left-wing populism can shift to the far right. This, however, is the expression of the genuine discontent not just of one generation but of an entire nation. Podemos started as a grass-roots movement, and this wind is now blowing from the south all across the EU. Things are getting interesting."
Syriza a risk for Spain, Portugal and Ireland
Journalist Endre Aczél voices fears of a surge of left-wing populist forces after the victory of Syriza and the Podemos rally in Spain in the left-liberal Sunday newspaper Vasárnapi Hírek: "After Syriza's election victory the rise of Podemos in Spain seems inevitable. Both are radical left-wing parties, both are populist and anti-elite, and both base their policies on the principle that the man on the street should not pay for the mistakes of the political establishment. ... The problem is that Syriza's victory is exerting a major force of attraction. ... Elections are just around the corner in Spain, Portugal and Ireland. It is to be feared that in these countries too, left-wing populist forces will come to power."