Radical Spanish Party Podemos Would Ban Job Cuts

Pablo Iglesias, head of leftist group "Podemos", or "We Can", delivers a speech during the presentation of the party in Madrid January 17, 2014 Andrea Comas/REUTERS

Podemos, the radical left-wing party that's been topping opinion polls in Spain, revealed an emergency economic programme yesterday designed to boost the floundering economy with tax hikes, the nationalization of key industries and a ban on job cuts within high profit-earning companies.

Podemos, meaning 'We Can', is led by Pablo Iglesias, a pony-tailed, former political science professor. Iglesias announced that the party's plans included lowering the retirement age from 65 to 60 - a move that would create jobs for a vast number of Spain's unemployed young people. He also said that the political party would increase taxes in an effort to fund a renewed welfare system, and change the loan system in order to boost small businesses.

The programme, which was authored by Juan Torres and Vincenç Navarro, professors of applied economics and political science, was presented as a document entitled: An Economic Project for People by Podemos.

Iglesias called the programme a way to "correct the direction of the national economy and make it more democratic, putting it back in the service of citizens".

Podemos is an offshoot of the 2011 "indignados" movement which protested against ongoing political scandals and economic instability. Next to Greece, Spain has Europe's highest rate of unemployment, with more than half of 18-24 year olds unemployed, and 24% of the overall population out of work.

Podemos' surging popularity has surprised the nation and shocked the political classes.This is the first time Spain has been given an alternative to a right-wing government since the 1970s. In a poll published on Monday which showed people's voting intentions, Podemos got 28.6% of the vote, beating the leading parties Popular Party and People's Socialist Party who received 26.3% and 20.1% respectively.

The recent rise in popularity of alternative political parties is not unique to Spain. Parties like Marine Le Pen's far right-wing Front National in France and Nigel Farage's UK Independence Party (Ukip) have both seen increased success in opinion polls over the last year.