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100,000 Podemos Supporters March In Madrid

100,000 Podemos Supporters March In Madrid As Pablo Iglesias Praises Six-Day Old Greek Government
Matthew Bennett
By Matthew Bennett | Saturday, January 31st, 2015
NEWS: Mr. Iglesias said Spain needed its dreamers and that Mr. Tsipras’s Greek government had “done more in six days than many in years”; Mr. Rajoy said Podemos were “a bunch of sad sacks”.
skyline-webcam-puerta-del-sol-podemos-31-janTens of thousands of supporters of Spain’s left-wing protest party Podemos filled the streets of central Madrid on Saturday in an organised march six days after Syriza won the general election in Greece. Many of the those attending had begun their journey to Madrid from other towns in Spain in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Demonstrators began concentrating in Madrid’s Cibeles square—the nominal starting point of the march—at around 11 a.m., and soon filled the main streets leading to the nearby Puerta del Sol, the end point where the political rally and speeches took place
Podemos managed to fill the Puerta del Sol—frequently considered a test of a successful demonstration in Madrid—but calculations of the numbers of people in attendance varied between the 100,000 estimated by the police and the 300,000 estimated by Podemos.
Independent assessments published in Spanish media based on the size of the square suggest no more than 45,000 could fit into the Puerta del Sol itself, with a few more thousand in the adjoining streets, indicating the police’s tally would be more realistic.
Purple Podemos flags, tricolor Second Republic flags—but no Spanish flags—and banners with Pablo Iglesias’s “tick, tock” message to Mr. Rajoy could be seen. “Change” was a prominent message, and also the keyword promise made by the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) of Felipe González to Spaniards in the early 1980s.
At around 1 p.m., a round of political speeches began to chants of “Yes, we can! Yes, we can!”, and all of the warm-up acts before Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias were filled with romantic references to the hope and strength of the people.
Podemos number three Juan Carlos Monedero bellowed out a poem by Federico García Lorca and rejected the idea the country’s transition to democracy in the 1970s had been at all arranged by the political forces of the day: “The King [Juan Carlos], [former Prime Minister] Suárez and [former Franco minister and Popular Alliance leader] Fraga didn’t bring democracy to Spain, you, the old and grey, did!”.
When Mr. Iglesias finally appeared, to chants of “Paaaablo, Paaaablo” from the thousands thronging the square, he also made multiple references to the people, their hopes, their smiles, their dreams and their longed-for equality.
He praised previous occupants of the Puerta del Sol square in Madrid and referenced its meaning as a historical place of protest for Spaniards, from “those who fought against fascism” of Franco to “the students of the 15M” movement who preceded the formation of Podemos in the early years of the economic crisis.
“This is the year of change and we are going to beat the Popular Party at this year’s election”, said Mr. Iglesias, asking: “What has happened in this country? The problem is a country model that has pitted the state against the people”.
“They call change an experiment and chaos; we call it democracy”.
He defined democracy as “the chance to change what doesn’t work” and held up Mr. Tsipras’s belligerent new Greek government as an example following Syriza’s win in Greece’s general election last week: “The Greek people have finally won in Greece. In six days, they’ve done more than other governments in years”.
He repeated the phrase”We dream, but we take our dreams seriously” several times, and towards the end of his speech made multiple references to the Spanish literary character Don Quixote: “We need Quixotes. We are proud of our dreamers. Don’t allow them to turn that into a brand. Sovereignty is not for sale”.
Speaking in Barcelona, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that he: “didn’t accept the black picture of Spain [Podemos] paints”, adding that: “They are a bunch of sad sacks walking around saying how bad things are”.
In Valencia, the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) began a two-day national rally, at which the current secretary general, Pedro Sánchez, did not speak (he is scheduled do so tomorrow). The leader of the Socialist Party in Asturias, Javier Fernández, said the PSOE was: “a rival to all other parties”, countering suggestions from both the PP and Podemos that the PSOE is currently ill-defined:
Mr. Fernández suggested the rise of Podemos and fear-mongering over a government led by Pablo Iglesias benefited the PP, who want: “Lots of ponytails on TV to break up the left”.

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