SPAIN: Yolanda Diaz, the Spanish Labour Minister, launched her bid to become the nation’s first woman prime minister at a crowded gathering on Sunday in Madrid, where the absence of two government officials indicated a widening rift within the progressive left.
In front of more than 3,000 supporters, Diaz declared her candidature for the upcoming general elections that will be held at the end of the year, in which the current leftist alliance government hopes to secure a second four-year term.
“Today, I am humbly taking a step forward. Today, I want to become our country’s first female prime minister,” Diaz told the audience to a standing ovation, adding that “because the Spain of women is unstoppable, there’s no going back.”
The rally included supporters of Diaz, from her own Communist Party to environmental, LGBT, and feminism activities; also attending were the mayors of Barcelona and Valencia, Spain’s second-and third-largest cities, respectively.
However, the leadership of Podemos, a party founded in 2014 with a platform resembling Diaz’s latest Sumar (“Unite”) proposal, was conspicuously absent.
Neither Podemos’ secretary general, Equality Minister Irene Montero, nor Social Rights Minister Ione Belarra appeared after last-minute negotiations over the structure of Sumar’s internal primary votes came to a standstill.
To allow voters to choose the composition of Sumar’s list of parliamentary candidates, Podemos has asked for “open primaries” and demanded that Diaz make a written commitment to them.
However, Diaz has so far rejected this requirement, stating that multilateral negotiations with the other groups that make up her coalition are necessary. It’s not yet obvious if Podemos will support Sumar or take on the party for left-of-centre voters.
Regional and local elections planned for May 28 could be used as a barometer to assess Podemos’ electoral viability, influencing decisions about whether to work with Sumar on a campaign or launch a separate campaign in the future.
Despite not having yet made public a comprehensive programme, Diaz provided a general overview of it, outlining a new “bill of rights” and a democratic, economic, and social “contract” for the coming ten years.
She also praised the accomplishments of her ministry, including the increase in the minimum wage and a reform of the labour laws in favour of unions.
Diaz, 51, is a native of Galicia in northwest Spain and the niece and daughter of important communist figures. She has the highest approval ranking of any politician in Spain, with an average rating of 4.89 out of 10, according to a recent survey conducted by the government-owned Centre for Sociological Studies.
Upon leaving the government in 2019, former Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias appointed her to be his successor; however, the two have since splintered.
Iglesias, a well-known media commentator who continues to have a sizable influence over Podemos’ base, has frequently criticised Diaz for what he calls her cosiness with the Socialist Party rival and her lack of self-positioning on issues like shipping weapons to Ukraine.
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