Yes we can! Podemos = chavismo

imageOver at Foreign Policy’s Transitions blog, I make the case that Spain’s rising party Podemos – which is now leading the polls in Spain – is chavismo’s first cousin.

The value added:

“Regardless of the distance they want to put between themselves and the chavista revolution, chavismo is strikingly evident in most of what Podemos’ leaders say. For example, Iglesias, upon being sworn in as a member of the European Parliament, vowed to respect the Spanish Constitution “until the citizens of his country change it.” The move had more than a trace of Chávez in it. When the Venezuelan was sworn in for his first term, he also swore on a “moribund” constitution while at the same time vowing to change it, all in the name of “democracy.”

Podemos’ approach to the Constitution directly parallels the rise of chavismo in Venezuela. Chávez began the process of reform in Venezuela by dismantling the institutions that the public saw as corrupt. The system in Venezuela was evidently broken, and Chávez used his initial popularity to do away with the old system and build a new one tailor-made for his movement. Popular approval of most of his reforms in frequent elections gave his changes the legitimacy they needed. Fifteen years after Chávez was first elected, Venezuela is mired in civil unrest and economic turmoil. Its democracy is severely eroded, and the chavista elite is deeply entrenched.

Like Chávez, Iglesias has sworn to open the doors to a “constitutional” process that undoes the “locks” of the 1978 Constitution. His justification is Spain’s dire economic situation, which he blames on “oligarchs.”

I don’t know if this came across in the piece or not, but the parallels between Podemos and chavismo are striking. In fact, I’m a bit startled there is still any sort of debate on the upstart party’s true nature.

Here is a bit of advice for Podemos: you’ve been peddling anti-private property, left-wing, radical chavismo for years. Own it. Don’t run away from your true nature. Say it loud and clear: “we are chavistas, and we’re proud of it.”

Saves us all a whole lot of trouble.