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Spain’s Leftwing Podemos Party to Decide Its Future

Pablo Iglesias (R) and Inigo ErrejonPablo Iglesias (R) and Inigo Errejon

The charismatic head of Spain’s Podemos puts his leadership on the line on Sunday, as supporters decide whether one of Europe’s leading left parties takes a more moderate political line or fights on as an anti-establishment grouping.

On the second day of a party congress in Madrid held after months of infighting over where to steer Podemos, the results of a weeklong online vote to renew the party’s leadership council, secretary-general and decide on strategy will be unveiled around 1300 GMT, AFP reported.

Born in 2014 out of the Indignados protest movement that swept Spain during a severe economic crisis, Podemos, an ally of Greece’s Syriza, experienced a meteoric rise to national-level politics, winning millions of votes in two elections to become the country’s third party.

Buoyed by promises of radical change and a more egalitarian society, Podemos won 71 seats in parliament as part of a wider, leftwing coalition.

But it now finds itself at a crossroads that has divided its chief Pablo Iglesias and his deputy and once close friend Inigo Errejon, creating a rift in the entire party.

The issue centers on how to achieve the end-goal of replacing the Socialists as the main opposition party, and eventually taking power in Spain.

Should Podemos, which harnessed the anger of millions stung by Spain’s economic woes, take to the streets again as an anti-establishment group, as wanted by Iglesias?

Or should it shed an “enfant terrible” image that may be scaring away voters now that it has become a credible political force, and work from within parliament as Errejon proposes?

Once bubbling under the surface, the rift between Iglesias and his number two erupted into the open last year, playing out on social media and in the press.

Supporters, who looked on with dismay at what many perceived to be a power struggle typical of any other political party, are hoping the rift will be put to rest on Sunday once the results are announced.

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