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Municipal, regional election the next test for anti-austerity Podemos party

May 24, 2015 - SPAIN

The Jan 2015 victory of the anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece creates a tailwind for like-minded Podemos ahead of Spain's municipal and regional elections and a powerful headwind for the governing center-right People's Party.

Spain's improving economy has not cut into the popularity of the anti-austerity message, and Podemos was able to rally enough supporters to Madrid in January to fill a central square and side streets.

The first test for Podemos was the European parliamentary election in 2014, when it won five seats for Spain, considered a strong showing for a newcomer. The new party is reported to be aiming to adopt Syriza tactics in order to break into mainstream politics in Spain, and some polls show it pulling ahead of the incumbent Conservatives and the main opposition Socialists.

Leading figures within the party initially indicated that Podemos would not put forward candidates at the local and regional elections in May so as to concentrate on the general election six months later, but it is now expected to join the Ganemos (Let's win) coalition, with the Communist-dominated United Left and Equo, which groups several green parties. At the regional level, Podemos is expected to fight the elections alone.

The Bank of Spain forecast of more growth for the Spanish economy and some 2 per cent expansion for 2015 following 1.4 per cent expansion in 2014.

The vote takes place in 8,112 municipalities and 13 of 17 regional bodies. Four -- Andalusia, Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country -- have separate electoral cycles.

Anti-austerity Podemos stages show of force before elections (Reuters/CNBC 31 Jan 2015)

Tens of thousands fill Madrid square for anti-austerity rally (CNN 31 Jan 2014)

Bank of Spain Forecasts More Growth for Spanish Economy (WSJ 23 Dec 2014)

Podemos: The Radical Party Turning Spanish Politics on Its Head (Newsweek 22 Oct 2014)

Date written/update: 2015-02-03