Podemos Surges Past Rajoy’s PP to Take Lead in Pais Poll

Podemos, a Spanish anti-austerity group set up less than a year ago, surged past Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s Party to claim the lead in an El Pais opinion poll a year before Spain’s next general election is due.

Support for Podemos jumped to 28 percent from 14 percent a month earlier, El Pais said today on its website. The main opposition Socialists were second with 26 percent compared with 31 percent in October, while the PP plunged from 30 percent to 21 percent.

Voters are punishing Rajoy’s party amid a third wave of corruption allegations. The prime minister apologized last week after evidence showed party officials were taking kickbacks to hand out 250 million euros ($313 million) of public contracts while he was administering the harshest budget cuts in Spain’s democratic history.

Podemos grew out of the “indignados” movement that saw thousands of Spanish set up camp in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol in 2011. It’s led by Pablo Iglesias, a political science professor from Madrid’s Complutense University who came to prominence in discussion programs on Spanish television. His collaborator, Juan Carlos Monedero, used to advise Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.

The group is calling for a program of public investment to create jobs. It also wants to cap the working week at 35 hours and lower the retirement age to 60 to redistribute job opportunities. The group proposes prohibiting profitable companies from firing workers and imposing a maximum wage.

Its program demands an audit of Spain’s public debt to assess which part of it is “illegitimate” and giving euro area governments control over the European Central Bank.

Metroscopia interviewed 1,000 people on Oct. 28 and 29. The margin of error was 3.2 percentage points. Rajoy’s approval rating was 18 percent.

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