LEFTIST party Podemos (We Can) has been forced to accept the demotion of one of its most high-profile politicians, Irene Montero, as it is absorbed into a new alliance called Sumar (Unite)

Montero will not be on the candidate lists for the upcoming general election on July 23, and will assume a ‘modest’ role within Sumar. 

Montero, whose partner is Podemos co-founder and former deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias, has lost huge amounts of political capital in recent months in her role as Equality Minister. 

This was due to a number of controversial laws that the ministry sponsored, with the most high-profile of these being the ‘only yes means yes’ law. That legislation was aimed at putting consent at the heart of sexual assault cases, but had the unintended consequence of reducing prison sentences for some convicted sex offenders by changing minimum and maximum sentencing. 

Montero was defiant with regard to the legislation, initially blaming judges for not applying it correctly. Her party has also refused to acknowledge any mistakes in the creation of the law, which is in the process of being modified with the agreement of other political groups. 

Podemos is currently a part of the coalition government, along with the United Left. But these leftist parties, as well as the senior coalition partner the Socialist Party, fared particularly badly at the May 28 local and regional elections. 

This prompted Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to call snap elections for July 23, which had the knock on effect of forcing leftist parties to decide whether or not to join Sumar – the brainchild of Deputy Prime Minister and Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz –before a June 9 deadline to register parties. 

Sumar insisted that Montero be excluded from candidate lists for the next general election, something that party leader Ione Belarra refused to accept even when finally joining forces with Sumar in a last-minute deal last Friday. 

However, speaking at a party meeting on Saturday, Belarra denounced the ‘unfair veto’ of Montero, but accepted that the politician would have to take on a more minor role and not be included on the candidate lists. 

Montero also spoke during the meeting on Saturday, denouncing what she called an ‘unfair’ veto in comments reported by news agency Europa Press.

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