Spanish police are looking into a claim that the leftwing populist party Podemos received €5 million from Iran in the run-up to this fall’s elections. The Local.es reports:
According to a report in the Spanish online newspaper El Confidencial, Podemos is alleged to have received some €5 million ($5.4 million) from media companies administered in Spain by Iranian regime-linked businessman and academic Mahmoud Alizadeh Azimi.
El Confidencial alleged that the companies concerned inflated sums paid to firms linked to Podemos for broadcasting services. And that the cash was channelled to the organization from Iran through third countries including Dubai and Malaysia.
Nothing has been proven. Yet, were this to be so, it would not be entirely out of character: A WSJ profile has shown that Podemos has deep albeit non-financial links to the Venezuelan regime. Furthermore, European radicals and leftists in general increasingly look toward anti-U.S. nations for leadership. (This is in some ways a weak echo of how Western European communist parties would look to the U.S.S.R.) Tom Gallagher has written recently in these pages about the Scottish National Party’s recent embrace of Iran, while ties between populist parties on both the far-Left and far-Right to Vladmir Putin are well-documented.
So, on the one hand, an outright gift of money on this scale from Iran to a Western political party would be something new; on the other, it would make sense given current, troubling trends. This is definitely something American officials need to keep an eye on. Europe is far from out of the woods, and it’s a realistic possibility that before the euro, refugee, and economic crises are resolved, somewhere, a third party will win. And if or when a party like Podemos sits in control of a NATO or EU country, we need to know about what ties like these may exist—and how deep they go.