Since its emergence in 2014, Podemos has become one of the three major electoral forces in Spanish national politics. Led by general secretary Pablo Iglesias, this rising party has successfully gained seats in both the Spanish and European Parliament and has consolidated administrative alliances in key regions and cities in Spain. Íñigo Errejón is the current Secretary for Policy and Strategy of the party, as well as a member of the Spanish Parliament. Until earlier this year, he was the spokesperson of Podemos. In addition to his political role, Errejón holds a doctorate in Political Science from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. During his doctoral years, he briefly studied at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) under the supervision of political geographer John Agnew. More recently, Errejón co-authored, with political theorist Chantal Mouffe, Podemos: In the Name of The People , a short book that assesses the breakthrough and limits of this new progressive movement within the current debates of the crisis of the European Union and the global rise of populism. In this first extensive interview in English, Errejón analyzes the political map of Spain, and the democratizing force that Podemos embodies in a country ruled by a stagnant political class. In this conversation, Errejón argues intensively for the democratic potential of populism, and explains the basic tenets of a progressive patriotism that holds the possibility of igniting a new social consensus based on equality and human dignity. Further, he reflects on what the eruption of a political party like Podemos has meant for Spain, and the challenges that lie ahead as a new election cycle approaches.

Muñoz: Íñigo let me begin by thanking you for taking this time to speak with me about the current state of Podemos for a North American audience. Podemos is a relatively young political organization that emerged in 2014. In a matter of months, it became the second most powerful political force in Spain. Of course, much has happened since then. How would you describe the political trajectory of Podemos up until now? In your opinion, among the dilemmas that the party has had to confront, which one has posed the biggest challenge?

Errejón: The experience of Podemos has been extraordinary. The acceleration of the current political tempo that led to the construction of a major political force was only possible after a cultural transformation had taken place in response to a devastating and unprecedented economic crisis in Spain. Podemos has only existed for a little over three years, but it sure feels like decades. This is due to the fact that we had to face multiple challenges in a matter of months. At the same time, this momentum was able to propel us far. Podemos not only attained institutional representation at both regional and national levels, but beyond electoral outcomes, it witnessed a gradual transformation towards the politization of our civil society.

It is true that we are currently living in a particular moment of disenchantment. This is, in part, a consequence of the Partido Popular (PP) gaining control over the state in the last election. However, one must also keep in mind that the transformation of the public agenda even under the current political party could not have taken place prior to the existence of Podemos. Our party came together confronting three fundamental issues that revealed a profound regime crisis (crisis de regimen). First, a socio-economic crisis made the lives of the majority more precarious. Second, a territorial dilemma was born as a result of the lack of acknowledgement of the plurinational dimension of the Spanish state. Third, a democratic delegitimization also came to be as a result of systemic corruption in various layers of the state, including political parties. However, the way that the crisis unfolded did not necessarily lead to a crisis of the state, but rather, a regime crisis. Since 2008, a large social majority of our country ceased to see itself represented in the political imaginary that emerged after the transition to democracy in the late seventies and the early eighties. People began to notice that there was an ‘official country’ where political and economic elites benefited. Then there was ‘another country’ that wasn’t seeing its demands channeled through the formal institutions of the political system. It was only with the eruption of the 15M movement that this unequal distribution of social positions became a breeding ground to set in motion an unprecedented project in our Spanish political tradition. [1]This marked the beginning of a popular patriotism. The management of the economic crisis that clearly advanced the interests of a privileged elite consequently paved the way for a movement whose main agenda was to redeem the interests of the social majority – mainly, those who had lost their homes, jobs, or were forced to leave their country. In fact, the rise of the social majority redefined Spain as a country of the People against the antipatriotic elites.

Therefore, the biggest challenge has been, without question, attempting to articulate a hegemonic political project grounded on a national and popular horizon. Needless to say, this attempt is also challenged by traditional progressive agendas that have always voiced protest, but have lacked the power for real transformation. Reality obliges us to be as transparent as possible when defending a set of goals that benefit the People. This means pushing for the idea of a new patriotism and a sense of pride in our country. In other words, this means a country with many nations as it is in the case of Spain.[2] I believe that this is a fundamental tenant in order to understand the origins of Podemos.

Muñoz: I want to pick up on the impact of the economic and political crisis in Spain that you mentioned before. Indeed, Podemos owes its rise to the financial crisis that heavily impacted Spain as early as 2008 during the Zapatero government. At the time, the Socialist Party (PSOE) failed to directly confront the financial and banking sectors. It was the 15M movement that expressed the profound discontent and the crisis of political representation. In fact, at the time, the ‘indignados’ motto became “we are not goods in the hands of politicians and bankers.” But we also know that in such moments, a democratic option is not always available and consequences could be potentially catastrophic. It was fortunate that Podemos entered the scene and was able to channel the mobilization protests into a cohesive program within democratic institutions and the rule of law. Podemos read this social conjuncture as a ‘regime crisis.’ I would like to ask you if you could expand on this notion. Why is it so important for Podemos’ populist platform?

Errejón: What Podemos identified as a regime crisis implicitly alludes to a significant break with the political equilibrium of the dual party-system that framed the Spanish political establishment since 1978. From my point of view, however, it is important to highlight that the regime crisis in Spain has been a perfect excuse for an aggressive oligarchic counter-offensive. This has been expressed after many years of economic and political exceptionalism. The fierce attack was unleashed by the most privileged sector of society against our democratic institutions. In the meantime, the elites continued to enjoy the guarantees of the Regime of 1978, and found themselves in a favorable position during the initial phase of the crisis. This is an important point to bear in mind: the destituent attack in Spain really began by the elites themselves, who turned their back on the consensus established during the transition to democracy, which they conveniently transformed into an oligarchic model. [3]

The effects of this transformation deepened the existing fissures of the 1978 political regime until they were finally converted into an irreducible divide between ‘us’ vs. ‘them’. What we see here is a decay of the traditional alliance of political elites, fueled by the myriad of corruption scandals that began to silently unravel over the last two decades. The recurrent vendettas between parties and political factions patrimonialized the institutions of the state, to the point of generating a spiral of public denunciations that spread to the very top, including members of the monarchic family. This announced the end of internal regional agreements, since the crisis also unfolded as one of territoriality, as we see with the rise of a robust Catalan independence movement. Not to mention, we have witnessed a crisis of traditional mediations and public actors, such as unions, which are now unable to represent the new labor realities of the precarious informal worker, the immigrants, or the self-employed. Furthermore, there has been an intergenerational rupture, due to the incompatibility between the labor model tailored for the youth, and the stable pension system for the elderly. And finally, there has been a breakdown in social mobility, which can be understood in the way that the youngest generations watch their future expectations fall out of reach. The youth has become self-aware that they are going to enjoy fewer opportunities than what their grandparents and parents had.

This crisis of the middle class’ expectations for the future destabilized their subordination to the oligarchic political dominance in our country. However, this translation of the economic crisis unto the political register was not visible at first, although it soon became clear that there was a definite disconnect between traditional representatives and those they strove to represent. We became aware that we could speak about a crisis of political representation. Without question, the neutralization of political disagreements and its replacement by mere electoral politics facilitated a symbolic unification between political elites and a good portion of the middle class. This economic and political upheaval was exacerbated by a series of corruption scandals related to party members that held key governmental positions for decades. Obviously, this generated a perfect breeding ground for the regime crisis. In other words, the regime crisis opened a margin of opportunity for reorganizing the political and territorial map.

I would like to emphasize something that Podemos has consistently argued: the regime crisis is fundamentally expressed in the decline of the Socialist Party (PSOE). This was a party that, from the beginning of Spanish democracy, unsuccessfully tried to represent the lower and middle classes of our country. Currently, the crisis of the PSOE is still not solved, and this explains one of the main priorities that Podemos needs to attend to in the upcoming years.

Muñoz: From what I gather in your analysis, it seems that the task of Podemos has, as an immediate goal, filling the vacuum of the Socialist Party in order to become the hegemonic force in Spain. It is also here where the question of populism becomes relevant. In the past years, populism has produced an intense conversation that now extends over the Atlantic. [4] More recently, we have witnessed the rise of European populist right-wing parties and the unexpected presidential victory of Donald J. Trump in the United States. It is very telling that no major political force in Spain came out in favor of Trump during the 2016 American National Election. [5] At the same time, Podemos has been voicing a full-fledged populist rhetoric, emphasizing the need to establish a divide not in terms of identities or class, but between ‘the People’ and the elite (‘la casta’). How would you explain the differences between Podemos’ populist moment and the wave of reactionary populisms that have seemingly expanded across the Atlantic?

Errejón: It is true that the origins of different populist moments are at times the same. There has been, in the last decade, a neutralization of politics due to the domination of all spheres of life by neoliberalism, which has rendered any alternative models and political reforms emerging from citizens’ engagement to be impossible. However, the responses in many countries have differed. In some cases we see attempts to articulate a popular majority that amplifies social rights, where in others, we see initiatives to suppress them. For social democrats and fiscally conservative liberals, populism only represents moral outrage. Hence, for them, the crisis predicated on an unsustainable future was the reason why millions of citizens behaved like infants. This narrative insists that any public display of political passions amounted in irrational results. According to this way of thinking, Brexit and the reforms undertaken by Renzi in Italy amount to a disruption of the passive nature of popular sovereignty. But if we don’t make an effort to understand the causes, we become compelled to rapidly condemn the symptoms.

For almost three decades, the elites believed that passion could be erased from public life and that politics could be reduced to purely administrative procedures. Traditional parties thought that democracy could exist at the expense of the people and only through an abstract mass of consumers and occasional voters. They were incapable of understanding the importance of social protections based on a common political horizon. It is possible that traditional politicians will keep anesthetizing the populist phenomenon, until finally coming to terms with it as a reaction to the brutal oligarchic attack against the well-being of millions of people and the future of European democracy itself.

On the side of the traditional left, interpretations have had many shortcomings. Parting from the conviction that the populist right-wing phenomenon is mostly voted on by popular classes, the traditional left has come to believe that this represents an aggiornamento of the working class. These critics think that because workers vote for Marine Le Pen, speaking in the name of the people from the left reproduces the same effect. However, what is missing here is a comprehensive analysis of political identities that could explain how people come to adopt certain political positions due to moods, fears, and expectations. The problem is that these conditions are not framed as a common narrative and it is hard to imagine that the People could produce political mobilization on their own. I do not mean to say that we need to subscribe to a “class” narrative, but rather to a “national-popular” narrative, meaning that the People is the best expressive force of the nation. But the same has been true of moments when the left has been successful at constructing hegemony: the aim should not be to represent an isolated element or a particular class of society, but rather to organize a social horizon that could include diverse actors united around a shared promise of reform and re-foundation of the nation.

There has also been an attempt to read reactionary populisms as a demonstration on how important it is to “speak clearly”, that is, on how necessary it is to “tell old uncomfortable truths” in a tougher tone. But, as far as I know, political forces in Spain have always tried this. Throughout the fifteen years of my militant experience I never ceased doing these things. But I still haven’t heard a solid explanation as to why in the last three years traditional politics would produce different results. This kind of analysis was also unsuccessful during the 1930s, where the confrontation between classes led to all kinds of sectarian factions, paving the way for the fascist creation of exhilarating national myths.

The truth is that both Trump and Le Pen share an anti-elite rhetoric, but they fully reenact the national myths in order to ground their authority. These are entrepreneurial millionaires that made their wealth in the private sectors and that now promise the rebirth of an idealized country based on national order. We will understand very little of this populism if we mistakenly assume it is a mere destituent movement. A large part of its success is rooted in establishing equilibrium between public denunciations of political insiders (in the case of reactionary populism, it always exonerates the financial elites), appealing to an archaic traditional order. This is what is behind phrases such as “Make America Great Again” or the promise of a “Great, Powerful, and sovereign France”. The destituent momentum based on “everyone must go” (¡qué se vayan todos!) is convincing precisely because it is accompanied by the ideal of a better political order that can be grasped almost immediately. In a way, this is very similar, although more emotionally charged, to the utopia promised by the revolutionary imagination during the twentieth century. The capacity of being an antiestablishment force is then not only found in rhetoric against the political elites, but in the ability to cross a symbolic threshold that guarantees and recreates the imaginary of a new social order.

Now, how can we think the difference between reactionary and progressive populism? I think one could start by saying that if a political antagonism is erected against the weakest sectors of society with no intention of pursuing a democratic renovation, then we are standing before a reactionary populism. If, on the other hand, the plebs rise against the truly powerful elites, favoring a democratizing process that is neither closed nor prescriptive, in an attempt to find an equilibrium between a social majority and existing institutions, then we find ourselves before a democratic and progressive populism. In reactionary populism, the People always express itself unequivocally, which amounts to a sort of natural order. The progressive populist, on the other hand, consents to the democratic and contingent nature of every political community, which also entails a decisive recognition of institutions and the separation of powers as mechanisms that can express, defend, and integrate social pluralism.

Muñoz: According to constitutional lawyer Bruce Ackerman, Podemos has a unique historical opportunity to propel a democratic reform that could also serve as a lesson in democracy for the European community. [6] If such a task were to be achieved, Spain would transform its own political and constitutional history, since we know that the democratic transition that took place in 1978 was one of elite construction. Following Prof. Ackerman, could we say that Podemos should also be seeking to enact a second moment of democratic transition capable of transforming the institutional fabric in Spain inherited from the 1978 constitutional moment?

Errejón: Indeed, I tend to borrow Prof. Ackerman’s metaphor from We The People that distinguishes between “warm moments,” characterized by crisis and new political foundations; and “cold moments,” which tend to resemble social stability and order. There is no doubt that Podemos finds itself in a moment of impasse between these two poles; that is, between the irruption of the 15M movement in 2011 that opened a political cycle of social mobilization ending in 2012. This means that Podemos was born, strictly speaking, from the social impulse galvanized in street mobilizations. Podemos also noticed that when mobilizations come to an end, people return to their homes in order to continue their lives, and that is why the only way to advance forward is by translating that energy into irreversible and sedimented, long-lasting, policies that can become normalized into the social order to the point of being accepted even by the political enemies. This is something that the traditional Left has been unable to see.

Podemos has the political will to craft a new social consensus in our country, and that is why it wants to generate a deep institutional reform that could be able to channel the demands of those most touched by the crisis. Obviously, this political will clashes with the Spanish and European elites’ counter-offensive that seeks to dismantle the last standing social protections of the welfare state that the popular classes had attained over many decades. The emergence of Podemos is principally a direct response to this dangerous moment that could potentially consolidate a less democratic social space for our society.

Muñoz: An important dilemma of any progressive political initiative in the last decades has been the lack of a concrete agenda that could unite both the middle classes and those that are ideologically “on the fence.” For example, Claus Offe has pointed to the fact that even where there are great proposals and political ideas on the table, there is a lack of public servants willing to take up the job and to transmit it to a social majority.[7] In your opinion, what are some of the concrete proposals that Podemos is advancing in its pursuit of a democratization of the national space?

Errejón: The question regarding the middle class is one that always reemerges during the warm moments of organic political crisis. Perhaps this is one of the few real analogies with the 1930’s. This is also a question that reveals the limits of the notion of “class” as understood in the Marxist intellectual tradition. When we are confronted with a political crisis that expresses the exhaustion of traditional modes of symbolic representation and social consensus, there follows a margin of opportunity to construct a new social majority, transversal in nature, that can reorder the political map around a new divide between a national popular bloc that affirms “democracy, sovereignty, and patriotism” against the corrupt elites. Perhaps “democracy” is the empty signifier that has the potential to build a political project that is something more than just the sum of its parts. Here the challenge is to create a new political identity that transcends the particularism of any given social actor. Podemos was lucky to have emerged right after the 15M movement, which had already shown that a new social majority in Spain could in fact be erected under the sign of democracy.

Hence, the proposal for a democratic reinvention born out of the 15M movement became the central principle of our electoral campaign in 2015. There are at least four dimensions of this social consensus that we should account for. First, there is consensus on the need for protecting economic and social rights, which entails reversing the constitutionality of the austerity measures established by both conservatives and socialists in 2011. These measures privileged the fiscal management of public services to cope with sovereign debt. Concretely, this meant that public sanitation, education, and the other social services had to be indexed for fiscal deregulation. Secondly, there is the consensus regarding the reform of the justice system, to make it truly independent from political power and guarantee universal access and fair due process. The third consensus is to advance towards a ‘real’ democratic form, which as the 15M movement insisted, needed to demand a more fairly distributed territorial electoral system that could reinforce municipal autonomy, citizen participation, and decision making on the ground. Fourthly, a consensus regarding an anti-corruption package that would include the prohibition of revolving doors in lobbying regulation, and tighter controls of campaign financing of political parties. The fifth consensus specifies the limitations of the constituent regime of 1978 regarding the territorial question. At this point, we think it is legitimate to constitutionalize the plurinational structure of Spain as to advance towards a new consensus with more flexible interaction between the central government and its regions. If our current model was built from above and from within the state, we think that the solution can be achieved from below and from the decentralized margins.

Muñoz: Let us turn now to recent developments within Podemos. Earlier this year, the party had its second congress in Vistalegre, where enlisted members of the party debated diverse political programs. For many observers, this congress was of major importance because it highlighted very distinct positions within the party. Although the general secretary Pablo Iglesias reaffirmed his leadership by winning the majority of the votes, your initiative entitled “Recuperando la ilusión” ( Regaining the illusion ) followed in second place. I wonder if you could explain what made your proposal in the congress different from others, and why did you see the need to push for an alternative internal political strategy?

Errejón: As we have been discussing throughout this exchange, I think that the irruption of Podemos in the Spanish political establishment caused an important blow to the traditional elites: after a wave of social protests and street mobilization, here was a party that was able, within a relatively small period of time, to gain seats in the European Parliament. The general attitude of the economic and political elites as a response to the success of Podemos was one of perplexity and overt discomfort.

However, this sensation of perplexity was not only present among the oligarchic political class. The traditional left also demonstrated their incapability of understanding the nature of what had occurred, and the novelty that Podemos represented, which broke with many of the taboos ingrained in the traditions of the Spanish left. The clearest expression of this impasse, I think, is visible in the way in which the political confrontation ceased to be articulated in a left-right axis. In fact, Podemos’ political wager rested on the articulation of a new social majority from the already existent demands that were brewing during the recent years of social mobilization. This implied the necessity of broadening our scope: leaving behind traditional flags and political symbols and taking advantage of a very unique opportunity that we had before us. In this sense, the political program Regaining the illusion, wanted to move forward on this track. It definitely did not want to regress to an unproductive political position.

More importantly, the program Regaining the illusion departed from a theoretical interpretation of the Spanish political situation that resembled, to use Antonio Gramsci’s language, the passage from a war of maneuver of the initial phase to a war of position, where it was crucial to develop a strategy to confront the establishment while at the same time upholding the achievements made until that point. How does this translate to the political scene? In the first place, it means conceiving a consistent parliamentary strategy to deactivate, weaken, and subsequently defeat the conservative party (PP) in the government. This strategy implied maintaining a legislative initiative and debating key programs with the Socialist Party (PSOE). Secondly, it was crucial to support the initiatives of key mayors in city halls because they demonstrated the real possibilities of a governing Podemos in contrast to prior conservative administrations.

This had to be accompanied by positing the idea of the “People” as a self-evolving identity, avoiding falling back on the left-right ideological divide as much as possible. This meant a continuous movement towards the construction of a new identity regardless of past voting preferences. The crucial idea here was to appeal to those that were not part of the movement, in particular those social sectors that showed skepticism or a reticent attitude toward Podemos. In our view, this meant escalating a decentralization and democratization of the structure of the party, especially when it came to the local level of governance, where much is still needed in terms of political and cultural transformation.

Muñoz: I want to pick up on what you said regarding the political work at the regional and municipal levels, which today is highly discussed in the Spanish public sphere. In fact, there are mayors, like Ada Colau in Barcelona and Manuela Carmena in Madrid, that have shown that in practice, a politics of anti-austerity is not only possible, but has been embraced by a significant social majority. These local governments, in turn, are able to show that Podemos possesses the administrative capacities and everyday political rationality necessary to govern large and complex cities. It seems that one way in which change could appear today is through a broad and comprehensive elaboration of territorial federalism. [8] Do you think that a new federalism that could reorganize the Spanish territories is one of the long-term tasks for Podemos?

Errejón: As we know, globalization is a contradictory process that constantly generates centrifugal reactions. In response to globalization, new nationalisms and regionalisms emerge with great emancipatory potential to confront the elites at the top as well as the supra-national organizations and anti-democratic institutions. It makes sense that in a time of increasing sovereign fragmentation, disruption, and uncertainty, people start valuing concrete local institutions in order to protect the conditions of their well-being. In this light, the municipal level represents a political bastion of major strategic importance. At least in Spain, and especially due to unique historical developments, change has always begun in urban centers, which provide a perfect opportunity to demonstrate that progressive forces can govern “here and now” and that they can do it better than the corrupt political class. The municipal administrations can also prove that they can lead a participatory and engaged civil society, while attending to the real material needs of everyday people. This is what is happening at the present in the most important cities in Spain. These urban centers, headed by political administrations born out of the municipal social movements, are committed to fiscal transparency, ecological sustainability, fighting corruption, and democratic legislation. The question of the state in Spain is more difficult, since our country has not resolved the question of plurinationalism. What seems clear is that a new national consensus relies on municipal administration as one of their pillars for igniting change.

Second, it would not be exaggerated to claim that one of the key battles of the most recent political cycle is taking place at the city and municipal levels in relation to the Ministry of Housing. The city halls have shown clear administrative capacities when dealing with social expenditures and deficit management, in spite of the Spanish government subscribing entirely to the demands imposed by Brussels. The disconnect between state and city halls hardens the conditions for financing at the municipal level because most of the budget surplus is redirected to pay the debt contracted during the Popular Party’s administration. Obviously, this weighs down economic growth and productive transformation in many cities in the country. This is a clear example of a confrontation between two models of doing politics: one that has shown itself to be not only unjust, but also disastrous; and another that has shown that in fact it is possible to emerge from the economic crisis through social equality and democratic solidity. Currently, many cities are undertaking great advances, but they cannot continue to stand alone. This is why Podemos needs to reassert its political commitment in the regional elections in 2019 and expand its presence in municipal governments. By competence in matters of public services, infrastructure administration, and fiscal management, winning elections in the regional city halls is a key strategic component to advance our position in the national scene.

Muñoz: Finally, and this is my last question, what is next for Podemos in terms of the upcoming electoral cycle? Will there be room for political alliance or for the construction of a coherent coalition with, for instance, the progressive wing of the Socialist Party?

Errejón: The fact that Podemos received five million votes within the first two years of its existence is something unheard of in the history of our country. But it is also true that this is not enough, and that there are still many people on the fence that need to be included. This is why the question of political alliance has returned. On the one hand, one should not forget that Podemos has come to this point as a social alliance. We are, first and foremost, in alliance with our citizens. This is still our priority: the unification of the popular classes and the articulation of a new social majority. On the other hand, throughout these past few years, there has been a historic municipal transformation throughout the country. We have seen a successful attempt to merge all of these different processes on the path towards a common goal, instead of succumbing to the logic of fragmented political rivalries. This is something we need to revisit as we look towards the future. Hence, to summarize, we need to deepen the political alliances in a plurinational territorial dimension along with progressive political actors emerging in Catalonia or Valencia. We need to reestablish our presence at the municipal level, which has proven that working with the people is in fact possible. More importantly, we need to expand our social base, including among those who disagree with us, as well as those who show distrust in us despite feeling abandoned and betrayed by the traditional elites.

Gerardo Muñoz is a doctoral candidate in Hispanic Studies at Princeton University, working on political theory, crisis of sovereignty in Latin America, and populism. He is also a member of the academic collective Infrapolitical Deconstruction. He tweets at @gerardomunoz87.

* Translation from the Spanish by Lindsey Reuben Muñoz and Gerardo Muñoz.

Footnotes

[1] The 15-M movement refers to the cycle of political demonstrations that began in May of 2011 in Spain and which protested systemic corruption, unemployment, and the measures of austerity advanced by policies of the two main political parties (PP and PSOE). More importantly, the 15-M social movement brought to bear the consensus among the political elites dating at least to the transition to democracy in 1978. According to recent scholarship, 15-M brought about an unprecedented questioning of the ‘Regime of 1978’ as a limit to the social contract of Spanish democracy since the death of the dictator Francisco Franco. For Errejón’s interpretation of the 15-M Movement, see his article “We the People El 15-M: ¿Un populismo indignado?” (2015). For an in-depth analysis of the impact of this social movement, see the dossier “Crisis: 15-M and the Culture of Indignation”, edited by Bryan Cameron at.

[2] Errejón is here hinting at the possibility of a federal territorial reform that could constitutionally reorganize Spain as a nation of nations within a plurinational structure. As we know, Spanish political territoriality is comprised of seventeen autonomous communities with asymmetrical legislative and executive power based on their statutes, but without granting fiscal independence. The unfulfilled federalist structure in Spain has been one of the major dilemmas for political representation as well as for the consolidation of a cohesive modern sovereign state. The best study on the failure of federalism in light of the nation building project in Spain is still C.A.M Hennessy’s The Federal Republic in Spain: Pi i Margall and the Federal Republican Movement.

[3] By “destituent” (destituyente), unlike the theoretical conceptualizations advanced by Mario Tronti (2008) and Giorgio Agamben (2014) in response to the logic of modern state sovereignty, Errejón is referring to the increasing dismantling of Spanish institutions by the neoliberal rationality endorsed by the two major political parties.

[4] See my piece “Sailing the populist moment across the Atlantic”, published on July 16, 2017.

[5] Enric Juliana, journalist for La Vanguardia, was the first to have taken note of this interesting fact in the Spanish political landscape. See his Esperando a los robots Mapas y transiciones políticas: algunas ideas sobre el mañana(2017).

[6] For Bruce Ackerman on Podemos, see my interview with Ackerman

[7] Claus Offe. Europe Entrapped. New York: Polity, 2016.

[8] See Heather Gerken on uncooperative federalism, “We’re about to see states’ rights used defensively against Trump”.

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