Labour minister tries to unite Spain’s far-left ahead of vote

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Labour Minister Yolanda Díaz launched in July 2022 a new political movement called “Sumar” which she hopes will include all parties to the left of Sánchez’s Socialists.

She is expected to announce Sunday that Sumar – which means “to add” – will take part in the next general election with her at the helm.

Running together is crucial because if far-left parties stand separately, the chances of the left again winning a majority in parliament “is almost zero”, Oriol Bartomeus, politics professor at Barcelona’s Autonomous University, told AFP.

READ ALSO: Spain lawmakers reject far-right no-confidence motion

Sánchez’s Socialists have since January 2020 governed with far-left party Podemos, which has been losing support and members.

Díaz, who is a Communist Party member, has the support of smaller formations such as the United Left and Mas País, but has run into hostility from Podemos which has until now led the space to the left of the Socialists.


Former Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias, one of the founders of the party which has 35 seats in Spain’s 350-seat parliament, accused “many sectors” inside the far-left to seek “to do a lot of damage” to Podemos, during an interview Monday with radio RAC1.

‘Patchwork of organisations’

Iglesias left politics in May 2021 after Podemos suffered a drubbing in a regional election in Madrid, the latest in a string of disappointing poll results.

Díaz, who is known as a good negotiator, frequently argues that to “win a country, we need everyone”.

Lluís Orriols, a politics professor at Carlos III University in Madrid, said Podemos is reluctant to lose “its protagonism and visibility… in a patchwork of organisations headed by a leader” that does not belong to the party.

Bartomeus said Podemos wants to win “a sufficient number of lawmakers to be a key party” in the parliament that emerges after the next election.

Podemos has threatened not to take part in Díaz’s expected announcement on Sunday if an agreement is not reached beforehand on how to pick candidates for the polls.

The party wants open primaries, a system which would favour it since it has a large and organised network of members.

But Díaz wants to wait for regional and municipal elections on May 28th to find a consensus among all the formations that make up Sumar.


When he quit politics in 2021, Iglesias nominated Díaz to take over his post as deputy prime minister in Sánchez’s government.

It was a “clever” strategy to pick a party outsider to stem years of declining support for Podemos, said Orriols.

Iglesias did not expect that Díaz would distance herself from Podemos and create a political platform which has been gaining ground. Polls consistently indicate she is Spain’s most popular politician.

She was responsible for a labour reform which is credited with a sharp fall in the number of temporary job contracts.


As labour minister, she also oversaw a generous job furlough scheme at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which ensured people had an income even when large parts of the economy were closed due to lockdowns.

Sánchez gave Díaz a high profile during a debate in parliament earlier this month over a failed no-confidence motion brought against his government by far-right party Vox.

Orriols said this was a sign that Sánchez is “worried” that the far-left which he relies on to govern could suffer a “disaster” during the next election if it is not united.