We Can Win – Íñigo Errejón

This is a translation of an article published by Íñigo Errejón in 20 Minutos (29/11/2016). The Spanish original can be found here: http://www.20minutos.es/opiniones/firma-invitada-inigo-errejon-podemos-ganar-2899261/

Mariano Rajoy is once again president. Yet this in no way implies that we have reached the end of the political cycle which began (with the Indignados) on 15 May 2011. This new government is weak: it has only been returned to office at the cost of mortally wounding the old two-party system; it lacks credible proposals for the great challenges facing our country; and without a solid majority, its only weapon is to resort to blackmailing its political opponents. Thus it neither represents the inauguration of a new stage nor a restoration of the old: instead our traditional rulers have only bought themselves a bit of time.

That is why our response to these developments cannot be defensive. It can’t be based around resistance, but rather has to be offensive. It has to set out a constructive position which offers an idea of Podemos as capable of ruling Spain in a more democratic and just manner. It is true that the political rhythm has changed, that from now on the political dispute will be mainly centred around the institutional sphere, on one hand, and the field of cultural and social creation, on the other. However Podemos cannot be, as our opponents want us to be, a force that loses momentum when the frantic periods (of electoral glory) pass. We were born from the idea of taking advantage of a breach (in the system) but Podemos can only continue to make history if it is capable of building a new national consensus that places the needs of the people at its centre.

That is why I defend an idea of Podemos which far from being based on a retreat to what we were in the past, continues to open up and expand. There is a large majority in our country that already recognizes our courage and our success at pointing out the injustices of political life. They may even go as far as to sympathize with us, however, they still do not trust us enough (so to allow us to govern). Those from above (los de arriba) have not held onto power on their own merits but instead through their ability to equate those in favour of change with uncertainty and demolition. Hence today there is nothing more radical and transformative than a project aiming to build a new majority capable not only of denouncing the disorder generated by those from above but, and this is key, of embodying an alternative order and generating confidence.

A popular majority is necessarily transversal: it includes, of course, the traditional left, but goes much further and cannot fall into its old traps. 15-M taught us not to enclose ourselves in labels but to unite around common sense ideas and a new project for our country. Only in this way can we win against the oligarchy and create a new equilibrium.

I am convinced that our traditional elites lack any political project beyond further resignation, social backwardness and the shrinkage of popular sovereignty. That is why Podemos cannot be obsessed with the positions they take, nor expect that their mistakes will lead to our advance. We are the major force of the future and we depend only on ourselves, our ability to bring together very different social sectors around a new political identity. In fact, the elites best hope for survival is merely that we take the wrong path. But if we do not marginalize ourselves, if we refuse to be a noisy minority and instead continue to open up and reach out, we can be the nucleus of a new national project. This will not be achieved through elections but has to be sown beforehand, i.e. Podemos has to once again be the force that dominates political debates, – articulating names and proposals that nobody can ignore. A more plural, more inclusive and decentralized Podemos, precisely so as to speak less of itself and more of the people: concentrating on a new labour model to sustain pensions, a just exit from the crisis, the energy transition, a new territorial pact, the repatriation of emigrants and quality public services. A Podemos with prestige even among its adversaries, able to escape from all the corners in which they want to pigeonhole us.

We have to demonstrate to the more than five million Spaniards who have voted us that we are already useful to them. For example when we push forward a measure to raise the minimum wage or defeat the Government in the Fernández Díaz case, when we take root locally in an area building up mutual support and solidarity or through our management of the city councils for change. Furthermore we must demonstrate to those who haven’t voted for us yet, that we represent a patriotic project which takes up their problems and desires, thus offering them a real alternative horizon to believe in. This is an immense task involving territorial, cultural, participatory and intellectual challenges to which we going to have to apply ourselves to. Through this work we will discuss how to recover our country for the people. This is called a Podemos that can win (un Podemos Ganador).