Following the recent coverage of our first major event in London by British media, we’ve received several information requests regarding Podemos in general, and ongoing Citizen’s Assembly in particular. There’s plenty of information about the process in Spanish, but we’ve noticed there’s nothing in English so far, so here’s a summary of the key points:
What is Podemos?
Podemos is a tool for citizen empowerment, which aims to transform popular outrage into political change capable of reclaiming the institutions and putting them at the service of the citizens. It was registered as a party in March last year, and ran what’s been described as the most effective campaign of the European Elections, obtaining 5 MEPs.
Nevertheless, Podemos is not just a party, it’s a citizen’s initiative that aims to build democracy through citizen participation and popular unity. At its heart are over a 1000 assemblies or ‘circles’, horizontally-organised, locally-held meetings, in which people from across the political spectrum gather to discuss and decide how to turn their frustration into effective political action. We propose simple but deep changes: to reclaim democracy, place politics at the service of people and Human Rights, and to be able to choose the economic model in which we work and live.
In its few months of life, Podemos has already radically changed Spain’s political climate, but the greatest challenges are still ahead, and we need to build a solid and genuniely democratic structure capable of facing them.
What’s the Citizens’ Assembly?
At Podemos, our commitment to democracy permeates not just our structures but also our actions. Democracy is not just something we advocate, it’s also something we do. The Citizen’s Assembly is our great democratic event, were we’ll decide how Podemos should work and be structured, from the local assemblies to the national forums, and their political representatives. It will take place between Sep 15 and Nov 15, and everybody is welcome to join in and contribute. It is a fairly complex process, composed of several phases:
15th-28th Sep: Submission of drafts.
Three types of drafts of principles can be submitted: organisational, ethical, and political. These are submitted and discussed online, in a Reddit-based platform known as Plaza Podemos, accessible to everyone, and in which anyone can participate.
15th Sep.15th Oct: Draft convergence
Throughout the process, the authors of the drafts will aim to converge, building on similarities and working on discrepancies, to reduce the final number of drafts to be voted.
28th Sep-15th Oct: Submission of ‘resolutions’
‘Resolutions’ are short texts (max. 1 page) which summarise a consensus within Podemos regarding a particular topic (e.g. Gaza’s situation). They cannot deal with strategic or manifesto points, or any other aspect covered by the drafts.
18th-19th Oct: Face-to-face meeting.
Over a weekend in Madrid, the authors of the final drafts will deffend their proposals, and the drafts will be discussed and debated. Anybody is welcome to join the discussion, and over 10,000 people have already confirmed their attendance.
16th-18th Oct: Voting of resolutions.
This will be done online, and 5 will be chosen.
20-26th Oct: Voting of drafts
Again, this will be done online, and anybody registered will be able to vote.
28th Oct-5th Nov: Presentation and promotion of candidates
Following the approval of an organisational principles document, people will put themselves forward for the positions outlined in the chosen document.
8th Nov: Candidate debate.
Will take place in a TV studio and will be live-streamed.
10th-14th Nov: Candidate elections.
As with the rest, the voting will take place online, and anybody who’s registered will be able to vote.
15th Nov: Presentation of elected officers and closure of the Citizen’s Assembly
You can find more detailed information about the Citizens’ Assembly here (in Spanish)
Here is some more coverage of Podemos in the English-speaking platforms:
- ‘Our dreams don’t fit in your ballot boxes’. Dan Hancox for Open Democracy.
‘Spain shows that the ‘anti-politics’ vote is not a monopoly of the right’. Luke Stobart for the Guardian.
- ‘In Spain, Politics via Reddit’. Jonathan Blitzer for the New Yorker.
‘In Support of Podemos’: list of international signatories backing Podemos.