What Does Hard-Left Party ‘Podemos’ Have To Say About Housing?

podemos-logo
The Spanish political landscape has been shaken by the meteoric rise of ‘Podemos’, a hard-left party with a populist bent, that looks on course to become the second or third largest party in parliament after next year’s general elections. The popularity of Podemos has much to do with widespread disgust towards Spain’s political class, and less to do with the party’s manifesto. Having just unveiled their economic programme, what do Podemos have to say about the housing market?

Pablo Iglesias, founder of Podemos

Pablo Iglesias, founder of Podemos

Podemos would focus on encouraging the renovation of Spain’s housing stock, energy efficiency, the rental market, and reform the Sareb, popularly known as Spain’s “Bad Bank”.

“A change in direction for housing and planning policies to open new sources for profit and employment in areas such as property renovation, the improvement of energy efficiency, and the development of rental properties and assisted living units,” states their policy document, whose main aim is “to help out people who have lost their homes, and to reach the level of social protection there should be in Spain”.

Regarding regulations for the ‘bad bank’, Podemos calls for a change in both Sareb’s nature and performance, condemning the government’s policy of placing thousands of homes “in the hands of international hedge funds”.

To fulfill these conditions, Podemos says it will draw up a new housing law, “which will guarantee the constitutional right to a home”, going for a policy in this case based on full occupancy and optimisation of the current housing stock.

Referring to groups who are dependent or at risk of exclusion, Podemos calls for a change in the current law “to regulate personal responsibility in a property purchase to avoid more evictions and at the same time, helping those who have lost their home”.

Run by academics like its founder Pablo Iglesias (pictured) who have spent their lives in the public sector, it is unlikely that anyone in the party has the first idea of running a property business in Spain, or being a private landlord for that matter (see comments below).

The following chart of voting intentions illustrates the rise of Podemos from nothing to number one in a less than a year.

Comments

comments

12 thoughts on “What Does Hard-Left Party ‘Podemos’ Have To Say About Housing?”

  1. David Lowe

    “it is unlikely that anyone in the party has the first idea of running a property business in Spain, or being a private landlord for that matter”

    Bit of a sweeping statement!!! Surely they can’t make a bigger mess of the ‘property business’ than the almighty mess and catasrtophic damage the ‘property experts’ have made in the last 10 years………………… Bit of political bias setting in here I think!

    1. Profile photo of Mark StücklinMark Stücklin Post Author

      Yes David, you are right. It was too sweeping a statement, written hastily without enough thought. I take it back. What I should have said is, as left-wing populists, it would be a surprise if Podemos’s policies were good for the nation’s housing needs in the long run. But I also agree with you that they could hardly do worse than the other parties. It’s a bit depressing that Spain’s only answer to corrupt incompetence is left-wing populism and nationalism.

  2. jd meatyard

    thanks for that completely one sided piece.

    I’m sure, mark, that you will be one of the many defenders of the ‘market’ ethos that has left the planet and the mass of people in such a mess.

    just enlisting from SP insight.

    1. Profile photo of Mark StücklinMark Stücklin Post Author

      JD Meatyard, I certainly am a defender of the market as the best way to organise the economy. Markets are about free choice. Democracy is a market of political ideas.

      Of course markets have to be regulated to some extent, but the market system has created extraordinary prosperity for billions of people in a short period of time. If you prefer a centrally-planned economy I suggest you try Cuba or N. Korea. And if you think that central planning is good for the planet you are kidding yourself.

  3. David Stellfox

    Hi Mark,
    Love your blog and insights… a regular reader. But I have to agree with David Lowe here. I mean really!
    “…it would be a surprise if Podemos’s policies were good for the nation’s housing needs in the long run…”
    I suppose that very much depends on how you define “the nation’s housing needs”? No? If you define them from a capitalist, right-wing perspective, you can see very clearly what you get… the mess we currently have. They (and you?) have no ground to stand on to critisise anybody else. I, for one, am willing to give “left-wing populism” a try. And, oh by the way, I have never worked in or depended on the public sector for my living.
    The implied incompetence you seem to associate to people with public sector service is equally invalid and by the same standards… Would you argue the architects and managers of the “free market” system are competent?? Really?

    1. Profile photo of Mark StücklinMark Stücklin Post Author

      David, I’m glad you like the blog.

      If you want to give left wing populism a try go an live in Venezuela for a few months. It’s a great example of left-wing populism in action. Are you not aware of what a failure it is?

      I didn’t say, and I don’t think I even implied, that public sector workers are all incompetent, certainly not front-line service providers like nurses and teachers. However, I worry about a political party with no private-sector experience. They have a personal interest in a bigger state, and I think it’s unlikely they understand the realities of running a business in Spain. I’m all for good quality public services, but someone has to pay for them, and left-wing populist never understand that.

      Don’t blame the free market for the Spanish housing bust. The Spanish property sector is anything but free. Political interference, corruption, town-planning folly, and political control of the cajas, have as much, or more, to do with the mess we are in than the free market.

  4. Pete Barcelona

    There are a few very simple things that can be done within the scope of a free market to help matters as I see it. Many people leave properties empty rather than rent them for fear of having tenants that don’t pay / trash the place / cost a fortune to remove. That as I understand it has been addressed uncluding a national register of people who have been evicted as bad tenants and an acceleration of the process to evict non-paying ones.
    As I see it, properties need to be taxed as though occupied and owners informed that they are better protected if they rent out. This way market forces will drive rents down to being more in lline with salaries.
    The obstacle is the political power if wealthy owners of largely vacant property portfolios. If Podemos deal with thus then great as I see it.

  5. Profile photo of GarySFBCNGarySFBCN

    If Podemos can rid the country of some of the corruption, that would certainly help the real estate market.

    But let’s be clear about something: A robust housing market requires a healthy middle class and everything I’ve seen to date is that the middle class is being eroded.

    Regardless of which party is elected, but especially PP, things in the real estate market will never be the same as they were if the middle class is not supported in Spain and in the UK.

  6. LindaF

    Agree with David, JD, and David: egregious bias exhibited in what should have been an objective analysis. Obviously, Podemos has gotten to where it is now because the voters are fed up with politics as usual being conducted by the usual politicians and the attendant impacts on the common people and their communities. I personally am encouraged by the open manner in which the new party has organized itself and developed its platform – quite different from the back office, good ole boy traditions of the PP. More power to them. Podemos should be given a chance, not denigrated as ” left wing populists.” What’s so wrong with that?

  7. Pelle

    Well the bit from Podemos about fighting corruption has come to a quick stop after their number 3 on the lists was found to receive money from the University of Malaga to work 40 hours per week on a project and instead have spent the time starting a political ultra-left wing party called Podemos…
    You can’t just break out their housing policy from the rest of their program, since in classic left wing and populist fashion, there is no way of financing all the pretty things they promise people…

  8. JG

    Nothing I have read about Podemos leads me to believe that they will take Spain where it so desperately needs to go. Of course something needs to be done to combat corruption but I think their policies are too left wing and nothing I have read suggests they are pro-business. In order to succeed, Spain needs to be business and free enterprise friendly, encourage inward investment from both individuals and multi-national companies, have workable laws and to have a fair and reasonable taxation system. That is the only way to create sustainable growth, new businesses and jobs.

    Podemos’ policies would involve spending large sums of public money i.e. nationalising various industries and creating large numbers public sector jobs and they have no way of raising this money. They don’t have the flexibility and freedom of the UK because they are tried into the stringent rules of the Eurozone and this would make many of their policies very difficult to implement.

    What is their stance on the so-called illegal property situation in Andalucia? Does anyone know? It is difficult to imagine that they would have great deal of sympathy for this dreadful, ongoing problem.

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About Mark Stücklin

Mark Stücklin is a Barcelona-based property market analyst and consultant, and author of the 'Spanish Property Doctor' column in the Sunday Times (2005 - 2008). He can be reached by email on ms@spanishpropertyinsight.com.