What′s a number two to do? Errejon′s status in Spain′s Podemos unclear | News | DW | 21.02.2017
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What's a number two to do? Errejon's status in Spain's Podemos unclear

Speculation regarding Errejon's future has abounded since Podemos leader Iglesias triumphed over his number two. As an internal game of musical chairs begins, Errejon's future - and that of the party - could shift.

Just as in a Cinderella tale, as the clock struck midnight, and the transformations began.

In the final minutes of Monday, ex-Political Secretary of Podemos and former party spokesperson Inigo Errejon confirmed in an interview with the Spanish radio station Cadena Ser that he would assume a different spokesperson role, that of the party's electoral alliance - called "Unidos Podemos" (United we can) and consisting of the United Left (IU), Equo, and other small left-wing parties alongside Podemos - in the Constitutional Commission of Congress.

His announcement came a little more than a week after party elections delivered a solid victory to the founder and current Secretary General of Podemos Pablo Iglesias, reinforcing the pony-tailed leader's more anti-establishment and hard-line leftist party ideology over Errejon's vision of a middle-of-the-road direction that could have seen Podemos pact with the center-left socialist PSOE.

In the aftermath of the party vote, Podemos' newly elected executive committee quickly relmoved Errejón as party spokesperson. Another party heavyweight, Irene Montero, is expected to debut in Errejon's former role on Tuesday, when she is expected to formalize other party changes.

In a previous downgrade, Errejon ended his role as Political Secretary to take on the newly created position of Strategic Analysis and Governance. 

Spanien Inigo Errejón und Pablo Iglesias in Madrid (picture-alliance/dpa/EPA/P. Campos)

Errejon will cease to be Iglesias' right-hand man in congress once an expected seat reshuffle is announced.

Musical chairs in congress?

Though Errejon will be taking over the electoral alliance spokesperson position from Iglesias himself, an expected reshuffling of seats in congress would signal that the former number two's status within party leadership remains uncertain.

In addition to announcing his new position, Errejon also alluded to the fact he may be removed from the front-bench row in Congress, where he previously sat next to Iglesias in his capacity as right-hand man.

"It is possible that the seats will change following changes in responsibility, and we will sit in alternative formation," Errejon said in his announcement. He attempted to play down the positional shuffling by reiterating his intention to serve where he "can be most useful for the party." But any relocation would be a clear signal that Errejon was making way for new top leadership.

Thinking ahead to 2019

Spanien Inigo Errejon Partei PODEMOS (Getty Images/B. Dominguez)

Podemos could be positioning Errejón as a candidate for 2019 elections in Madrid

In his radio remarks, Errejon declined to confirm rumors that have circulated over the past few days about whether he would be the candidate of Podemos for the Madrid community president in 2019.

Iglesias had expressed his certainty that Errejon would be elected president if his former party rival were to put himself forward as a candidate in the party's primaries.

"I would love it if he did so," Iglesias said, referring to the possibility. "If he decided to do so, [Errejon] could count on all my support, and I am convinced he would win," he added.

Pablo up, party down

Overall, the results of the elections at the party congress have been a boon for Iglesias, but not so much for Podemos as a whole, a new poll for the Spanish newspaper "El Pais" revealed Monday.

According to the results, 67 percent of respondents considered Iglesias' leadership to have been strengthened by the vote. At the same time, 53 percent of citizens consider Podemos to be weaker in the aftermath of the February 12 elections that reinforced Iglesias' strategic vision for the party.

With Iglesias' hard-line strategy to direct the program of Podemos going forward, it remains to be seen whether the changes will invigorate a party base exhausted by political infighting, or leave party members wondering whether a victory for Errejon at the party congress could have broadened Podemos' strength by attracting support from a broader section of the political spectrum. 

cb/jm (EFE)