Podemos backs down over Ukraine

Yolanda Diaz and Ione Belarra talk to try to lower the tension

2 min
The Spanish President, Pedro Sánchez, and the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, this afternoon at the event for 8M in Madrid

MadridThe war in Ukraine and, specifically, the shipment of weapons has caused another clash between the two partners of the Spanish government. This time, however, it has gone somewhat further and has also caused internal division within Unidas Podemos. Last Wednesday, Spanish President Pedro Sánchez announced at a plenary session in Parliament that, in the end, the Spanish executive would join the rest of NATO countries in sending weapons to Ukraine. Not ten minutes later, the secretary general of Podemos and Minister of Social Rights, Ione Belarra, came out to distance herself from the head of the executive and also from first vice-president Yolanda Díaz, who shortly afterwards would close ranks with Sánchez. Division got deeper as the days went by, especially inside Podemos. Finally, this Monday, Podemos co-spokesperson Isa Serra spoke at a press conference and the party backed down: she supported the government's position, despite admitting discrepancies in this regard.

On Sunday, Minister Belarra and Equality Minister Irene Montero were especially critical of the shipment of weapons and the leader of Podemos called parties that defend it as "parties of war". The party later admitted that these were not the best words to respond to Sánchez – who had said that helping Ukraine militarily was to be on the right side of history – and that were not liked by the PSOE nor Yolanda Díaz, who this Sunday spoke with Belarra to try to lower the tension within Unidas Podemos, but also with the socialists. Hours later, Isa Serra amended the Minister of Social Rights' words and assured that she was not referring to the PSOE when she spoke of "war parties", but to the "warmongering fervor" of the right and the "enormous pressure" that exists within the European Union to pursue this path.

Several sources admit that since Wednesday there have been tensions within Podemos. Sources argue that the party had to act and give a voice to all those who defend not stoking the war. Thus, the leadership decided to publicly dissociate itself from the PSOE's position, despite the fact that Yolanda Diaz, who is the Unidas Podemos's main person in the government, had decided to close ranks with Sánchez. "There have been tensions, but they have been redirected", a senior party official claim.

The Minister of Consumer Affairs, Alberto Garzón, and also the Minister of Universities, Joan Subirats, took Yolanda Díaz's side. And this same Monday, so did En Comú. In an interview on RAC1, the mayor of Barcelona and leader of Catalunya en Comú, Ada Colau, has described the statements made last week by Díaz as "appropriate and sensible". However, several sources admit that there has been a lot of internal debate, even if the majority ended up backing Díaz's position.

International Women's Day event

Podemos' backtracking could also be seen this afternoon in an event organised by the Ministry of Equality's Women's Institute. Spanish president Pedro Sánchez and Irene Montero took the stage together, with Minister Ione Belarra also present. Podemos sources assure that with this showed the tension with PSOE was over, even though this morning PSOE Minister of Defence Margarita Robles had accused Belarra and Montero of having a "small and unsupportive vision".