the euro zone
It was remarkable to see Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias taking up his seat at the cabinet table as one of Spain's deputy prime ministers this week. Iglesias, who formed the anti-establishment party in 2014 on the back of the "indignados" protests, has finally completed the last stage of a long and bumpy transition from angry outsider to national lawmaker. But in a move clearly designed to pacify conservative-minded outsiders, new Socialist (PSOE) prime minister Pedro Sánchez has kept Iglesias and his colleagues away from most of the economic posts, instead awarding them to PSOE members.
The EU, which has been fretting about Spain's ability to meet its "one-size-fits-all" targets, will be happy that PSOE heavyweights Nadia Calviño and María Jesús Montero retain their positions. Calviño remains as economy minister and has also become a deputy prime minister, and Montero stays as budget minister while also taking on the role of governmental spokesperson. Brussels might be less happy, though, about the pension increase of 0.9% - quickly agreed on by Sánchez's cabinet this week - and talk of another hike in the minimum wage, which the PSOE already raised by 22% last year. Indeed, the main economic challenge faced by Spain's new government is boosting welfare spending at the same time as meeting the EU's stringent fiscal targets (ironically, the pro-austerity conservative government led by Mariano Rajoy between 2011 and 2018 failed to satisfy any of Brussels' economic expectations).
As well as old-schoolers like Calviño and Montero, Sánchez's cabinet also contains less experienced politicians who fully-deserve their new roles. Iglesias' success in taking Podemos from formation to national power within the space of six years reveals great talent, especially in playing the media and tapping into younger Spaniards' concerns. Now one of four deputy prime ministers (the other three are from the PSOE), he has more scope to exercise his abilities than ever before. It'll be fascinating to see how he adjusts to reforming the establishment from the inside, rather than criticising it from the outside.
Just as significant as Iglesias' ascension is that of Yolanda Díaz, who takes control of the Ministry of Labour and Social Economy. A Galician lawyer and member of Spain's United Left and Communist parties, Díaz has vowed to repeal Rajoy's 2012 labour market reforms and increase workers' stability. Certain elements of Ciudadanos, as well as the entirety of the Popular Party and Vox, will be dismayed that a radical left-winger is in charge of such an important portfolio, but this is the new reality of Spanish politics.
Members of congress now represent everything from quasi-Franco nationalism to Marxist economics, thus highlighting Spain's colourful pluralism. If the price to pay for this rich blend of ideologies is frequent deadlock and disagreement, then so be it.