In order to understand the spectacular rise of Podemos and the increasing popularity of leader Pablo Iglesias, it is imperative to study his ideological framework. It is interesting to study the ideological influences of this young and media savvy lecturer of Political Science. From doing political programs and debates at Tele K Vallecas to Canal 33, he managed to jump to the right-wing oriented debate program El Gato Al Agua, on Intereconomia TV, as well as El Cascabel al Gato on 13TV, and from there he managed to get the attention of the most important TV Channels and media groups in the country and also in Europe. However, if we check the most admired authors of Pablo Iglesias, we will find out the way he has worked out to achieve that tremendous success.
One of the features of Iglesias is his admiration and study of the cinema as a political tool, he has written two fantastic books on the subject: Cuando las peliculas votan, and Maquiavelo frente a la gran pantalla. Iglesias analysed the political cinema of the 60s and 70s, such as The Battle of Argel (Gillo Pontecorvo), The Conformist (Bernard Bertolucci), Andrezj Wajda, Glaube Rocha, and Costa-Gavras. By analysing cinema, in addition to his training at Tele K and Canal 33, he has truly mastered the art of effective communication. This has allowed him to create effective Podemos propaganda. Iglesias has toyed a lot with the concept of the friend-enemy narrative of Carl Schmitt, one of the major intellectuals of the Nazi Party, author of The Concept of the Politic and The Tyranny. Here Schmitt conveys the necessity of a basic understanding of the state. Iglesias emphasized the transversal nature of Podemos, surpassing ideologies, making the individual disappear, portraying the need for collective strength in Spain. Some of the most mentioned intellectuals by Iglesias are: Niccolo Machiavelli author of The Prince, Vladimir Lenin, Thomas Hobbes, Marquis de Sade, and of Course Antonio Gramsci founder of the Italian Communist Party. However, one of the strongest influences has been the figure of Hugo Chavez Frias. Juan Carlos Monedero, in an interview in May 2014, spoke about the unity with ‘Our Venezuelan Brothers’. He, along with Evo Morales and Alvaro Garcia Linera, conform the real cornerstone of Iglesias and Podemos’ way of articulating their political strategy. Populism is one Podemos’ key weapons at their disposal.
Lenin, an essential thinker, can be used to deeply analyse what Podemos is doing and what their political strategy towards the general election in 2016 could be. Lenin managed to form a coalition government along with the Mensheviks by articulating the need for unity in times of crisis (war, unemployment, corruption, hunger). The Bolsheviks were able to capitalize on this feat and cement their place in government. Lenin also managed to create a system, organising local power into Soviet’s, in reality, this was a secure way of controlling grassroots power for the Bolsheviks. The analysis is similar to the problems that face Podemos in Spain. Huge unemployment, especially among the youth, embezzlement, corruption and rising debt. Now, Iglesias and his henchmen are preforming a step-by-step predatory strategy, first accommodating Izquierda Unida. This was recognised and documented by the journalist Enrique Rioboo on his book: La cara oculta de Pablo Iglesias. Two main pillars in Iglesias’ road to achievement are Alberto Garzon and Tania Sanchez. Their cooperation would certainly create a powerful left-wing force. This is the first step, the second one, is forcing PSOE to cut a deal with them to form a coalition government, this would be the ultimate destruction of PSOE. In fact the ghosts of the Second Republic of 1931 are coming home to roost. Santiago Carrillo, leader of JSU, the youth branch of PSOE, decided to flee to the Spanish Communist Party taking with him all the young section of PSOE. Similarly, Pedro Sanchez, the leader of PSOE, is imitating some manners and tactics of Pablo Iglesias. If this happens, it would mean the dissolution of PSOE, and the formation of a Popular Front, including the Basque Separatists and the Catalonian ERC.
One author that has make several contributions to Podemos, is Antonio Gramsci, who wrote : Cuadernos desde la Carcel. Iglesias has built control of a powerful cultural hegemony in Spain. The training ground has been the Political Science Faculty in Somosaguas, at the Complutense University of Madrid; culture has become a weapon. In Gramsci’s book, Cuadernos desde la carcel, he asserted: ‘the conquest of cultural power, is previous to that of the political one, and that is achieved through the concerted action of the intellectuals called ‘ organic’, infiltrated in all the mediums of communication, expression and university.’ Pablo Iglesias asserted his Gramscian follow-up at his seminar: ‘Power, Ideology and Mass Media’ whereby ‘90% of a political speech is an audiovisual device, 95% of a political campaign is an audiovisual device.’ In other words, a great deal of Podemos and Pablo Iglesias success is due to the masterful use of the TV. Pablo Iglesias’ campaign towards building a strong Podemos began all the times he appeared on the TV, preparing the public and nurturing their views. He seized on his popularity, achieving 1,200,000 votes and 5 seats in the 2014 European Parliament election.
One thing is for sure, Iglesias is a very smart and talented individual. He is a smooth operator who knows how to use TV and mass media in his favour. He knows how to become an attractive product for TV channels and how to generate audience. This gives him much more time to condition the public and solidify his leadership. Iglesias certainly communicates much better than both PSOE and PP. Only time will tell.
By Daniel Gonzalez, Junior Writer for Daily Political View.
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