PABLO Iglesias, the pony-tailed maverick who burst onto the political scene seven years ago with his radical left Podemos threw in the towel last night after a drubbing at the polls in the Madrid.

He announced he would be retiring from politics admitting: “We have failed”.

The 42-year-old founder of Podemos had stepped down as national leader of the party and in his role as deputy prime minister to run in the Madrid elections against conservative candidate Isabel Diaz Ayuso.

But the gamble didn’t pay off and his party scraped just ten seats in the regional assembly, far behind the 24 seats secured by rival left wing group Mas Madrid, which formed after splitting from Podemos two years ago.

“I’m leaving all party politics … I won’t be an obstacle for the renewal of leadership our political force needs,” Iglesias told reporters late on Tuesday after learning the results, which he described as a tragedy.

The announcement marks the end of a meteoric political career that started in January 2014 when Iglesias, a political science lecturer at Madrid’s Complutense University founded the party to protest against austerity measures imposed during the last economic crisis.

Podemos broke Spain’s two-party system, splitting the vote and paving the way for other minority parties to enter the political scene.

In its first legislative elections in December 2015, the party came third, and did the same again in June 2016, hot on the heels of the Socialist PSOE party.

In January 2020, Podemos joined the PSOE in forming Spain’s first coalition government since the end of Francisco Franco’s dictatorship in 1975.

But the marriage was not an easy one and has been marked by constant bickering over policies.

“When you are no longer useful, you need to know when to withdraw,” Pablo admitted last night.


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