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Europe's Latin Lefties
Podemos: Chavismo for Europe

Venezuela is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and running short of everything from toilet paper to water, despite having the world’s largest proven oil reserves. But at least one major political party in the Western world thinks we need more of what the Bolivarian revolution is selling: Podemos. In an explosive profile of the Spanish leftist-populist party, the Wall Street Journal notes:

Podemos, founded one year ago, is led by Mr. Monedero, Pablo Iglesias and Iñigo Errejón—technologically savvy political scientists who have gathered remnants of the “Occupy”-style movement that flourished and fizzled here in 2011. All three men have served as advisers to the Chávez regime.

Monedero, now Podemos’s second-in-command, is descibed by a current advisor to the Venezuelan regime as having been a “revolutionary tourist” and a “court intellectual.” Two of his Spanish mentors wrote Chávez’s constitution. And Iglesias and Errejón are linked through a think tank. While Podemos has made some noises about disowning its Venezuelan links, no one seems to buy it, according to the Journal.

And the love goes both ways:

Venezuela’s ambassador in Madrid, Mario Isea, told lawmakers from his country in November that Podemos could turn Spain into “a strong ally of Venezuela” and “a broadcasting platform” in Europe for chavismo, the Socialist, U.S.-bashing ideology propagated by Mr. Chávez and his successor, Nicolás Maduro.

As we’ve written before, there’s a lot to agree with in the critiques the populist parties in the Mediterranean make of the current European system. But that does not mean that their solutions are valid, or even heading in the right direction.

Looking at the rise of Syriza, Walter Russell Mead noted that many nations seem doomed to alternate between oligarchies that pose as market capitalists and populist movements that immiserate their own people. He wrote that “Syriza in some ways seems to be just another iteration of this unhappy movement of flailing populism—like the Peronist populism of Argentina and the Chávez-style ‘Bolivarianism’ of Venezuela.”

Podemos is surging in the polls, and may run Spain after this year’s elections. For those interested in the state of play there, we recommend you read the whole thing.

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  • Twiglet maniac

    Venezuela as model? Proves theres one born every minute.

  • FriendlyGoat

    Why don’t you just write about what you “agree with in the critiques the populist parties in the Mediterranean make of the current European system”? Then, why don’t you write about solutions which “head in the right direction”——but not just those solutions which would only slap the populist critics with whom you supposedly find some agreement?

    This thing at TAI does not have to be ideological spin. It could actually dip into two-sided honesty.

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