Yolanda Díaz wants to become Spain’s first female prime minister

by Lorraine Williamson
Yolanda Díaz

The public secret was confirmed on Sunday: Spain’s second deputy prime minister Yolanda Díaz has officially declared her candidacy for this year’s general election.  

Spanish Labour minister and second deputy prime minister Yolanda Díaz announced on Sunday in Madrid a new phase in her plans for the elections. She did so at a Sumar event. Díaz sees herself as the person to lead this new left-wing movement to bring back unity in Spanish politics. She declared her candidacy on Sunday for the national elections at the end of this year. She stated: ‘I want to be Spain’s first female prime minister’.  

Yolanda Díaz taking a step forward

‘I am taking a step forward,’ she told her devoted audience, which lacked leaders of Podemos. However, representatives of several left-wing parties and prominent political leaders were present, including the mayors of Barcelona and Valencia. 

In 2021, Díaz announced a listening tour. It is precisely by listening that she wants to bring the fragmented Spanish left back together. ‘A lot is changing in Spain. We do need to listen to the people. Travelling through Spain, I felt very close to the country, to the people who want to move forward, the people who approached me with their concerns and their dreams. And I must confess: I have felt that I could be useful for my country, useful for our people’ she said. ‘That is why I am stepping forward,’ Díaz declared. 

Podemos big absentee 

Almost all small left-wing parties are participating in Sumar, hoping to gain political power at the national level. In the polls, Sumar is doing well. On its own, Podemos would at most get 29 seats out of 350, while merging with Sumar could lead to almost double that. Whether that will be enough to form a left-wing coalition together with the social-democratic PSOE for the third time in a row remains to be seen. However, if it does succeed, Sumar, with more than 50 seats, is in a stronger position to make demands.  

Cogesa Expats

Yet Podemos’ main representatives were conspicuous by their absence on Sunday. That happened after its leader, Ione Belarra, on Saturday again urged Díaz to sign a document pledging to hold “open” primaries. It was a last-ditch effort, more for form than a genuine appeal.  

‘It is legitimate that there are people who think Podemos should play a secondary role in the next legislature,’ Belarra said in her speech on Saturday. The leader did not explicitly mention Díaz or her possible running mate in the next general election. She did stress that ‘the only way to resolve this debate democratically is with primaries open to all citizens, where everyone can vote, no matter where they come from’. The ultimatum passed without agreement. And Podemos used this fact as justification for not attending on Sunday.  

Criticism of Podemos 

Díaz did not explicitly mention Podemos during her speech. However, she did express veiled criticism of the pressure the party has been putting on it for months. Díaz argued for the importance of dialogue and unification in politics and for less polarisation. She also spoke of the importance of public health care, housing and feminism. ‘Women belong to no one. I, a woman, belong to no one. We belong to no one but ourselves and we are tired of being patronised’ she continued.  

Más Madrid leader Mónica García criticised Podemos for not attending the Sumar event. She argued that ‘history may be told by absence, but mostly by presence’, and affirmed that ‘it was essential to be present today’ to support Díaz. ‘Everyone is needed and today is a day to be together,’ Barcelona mayor Ada Colau said. She expressed confidence that Podemos ‘will definitely be there next time’. 

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