Fun times in Spain…
Where politics is always a shit show.
My favorite story to come out recently is that of Pablo Iglesias’ mansion.
And it looks like the excitement is just beginning.
If you’ve been following Spanish politics for a while, you know Iglesias as the pony-tailed leader of Podemos, our very own anti-capitalist left party.
The party sprang up in the aftermath the 15-M movement way back during the crisis.
Update, March 2019: Actually, according to newer information, the Iran / Venezuela funding thing was part of a shady plot by the conservative government at the time to discredit Podemos. Sorry about that. It was fake news, and we all believed it for a while.
Anyway, after winning seats in the European Parliament and (indirectly, through like-minded grassroots parties) the mayorships of Madrid and Barcelona, they quickly reached a respectable minority in the Parliament…
Only to be torn apart soon after by infighting.
(If there’s one thing leftists around the world are good at, it’s infighting.)
What does the future hold in store for Podemos?
In the meantime…
What’s the deal with Pablo Iglesias and his mansion?
Well, here’s the thing: recently, Iglesias and his girlfriend bought a house in Galapagar, a town in the foothills of the Sierra.
Galapagar’s a nice place – the only mountain town where I’ve felt bad about walking around in hiking clothes, actually. The only mountain town where I’ve ever winced at the price of my lunch.
In other words, it’s a bit high end for a leftist hero to be starting a family in.
The house is 250 square meters, with a pool and guesthouse out back – and it cost over 600,000 euros.
Not exactly a mansion back in my town, but hey – this is Spain.
And there’s a funny thing about that price: just a couple of years ago, Iglesias himself was quite critical of politicians doing exactly the same.
“Would you turn the nation’s economic policy over to someone who spends 600,000 euros on a luxury penthouse?” he tweeted, in 2012, referring to then-Minister of Economy Luis de Guindos.
My, how things have changed, Pablito!
From long-haired revolutionary to long-haired one-percenter, in just a few short years.
How does he live with himself?
Pretty easily, I’m sure. Read the book Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me) for more on that. (Short version: we’re all blind to our own hypocrisy, so deal with it.)
Now here’s the big question…
Will Iglesias have to step down as leader of Podemos?
We’ll find out soon.
Iglesias has called a referendum within Podemos to see if he should continue as party leader.
Meanwhile, who’s #2?
Funny you should ask – it’s his girlfriend Irene Montero, another Podemos MP and former member of Spain’s Young Communists.
Pablo promoted her soon after their relationship began. Now they’re moving to the ‘burbs and preparing to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Nepotism’s alive and well, and capitalism is treating them just fine.
The two are now expecting twins (how cute) and are raking in about 200,000€ a year between them – in a country where salaries are notoriously on the low end of Europe, that’s quite a feat.
But as the head of the anti-capitalist left, scourge of millionaires and enemy of inequality, it doesn’t look good when you join the upper class.
The rank and file members of Podemos are pissed.
And rightly so.
In any case, they’ll have their chance to vote on Iglesias and Montero’s future starting today.
So is Iglesias’ political career over?
I’m guessing he wouldn’t have called for a vote of confidence among party members if he thought he’d lose it.
What I wonder is this: is Podemos going to be a real political party? Or just a one-man show?
Are they really about ideas and change?
Or are they just going to follow Pablo off the cliff?
He’s been running things since the beginning, and although other higher ups aren’t happy, they’re not starting an internal rebellion either.
I suspect everyone will just muddle through as usual.
In a few days there’ll be some other scandal. (King Felipe doesn’t tip waiters? Queen Letizia has cellulite? Ancient Roman ruins found in Rajoy’s hairpiece? Who knows…)
Either way, life goes on.
P.S. One thing that bothers me about politics is that politicians are expected to have “principles” and then never change their mind about them. Way easier for Pablito to justify joining the 1% to himself than it is for him to show up in Parliament tomorrow and say, “Listen, guys… about that anticapitalist thing. Have you thought that maybe the rich aren’t parasites after all?” Nope, he’s gotta keep on saying what he’s always said. Oh well.
P.P.S. Update – the next week: Okay, so Iglesias and Montero won their little referendum with 68% of the party supporting them. Looks like they’ll be leading the party for (at least) a little while longer. In the meantime, about a dozen former members of the ruling Popular Party are being sentenced to long prison terms, and there’s a vote of no confidence against PM Rajoy brewing. Fun times!
P.P.P.S. May 2021 update: Okay, Pablito is finally retiring from politics. Long story. He gave up the vice presidency to run for President of the Comunidad de Madrid, and got 5th place in the election. The same night, he quit politics and retreated (presumably to his huge mansion) to plan his next steps. And I’m sure he’ll be fine, whatever he ends up doing. Time will tell…