Exact two months after resigning and abandon political life institutional, Pablo Iglesias has reappeared this Monday to give the inaugural conference of the course Political advice to governments and administrations within the framework of the Summer School of the Complutense University of Madrid. He has done it without previously announcing it and without an audience full of people willing to applaud him, but before a small group of Spanish and Latin American doctoral students, the only listeners of a dissertation that has dealt with something that Iglesias knows first-hand: how a candidate should develop. (left-wing) in today’s media landscape.
Yolanda Díaz, in her first speech before the United We Can group: “We are going for all”
The former vice president of the Government and first secretary general of Podemos thus returns circumstantially, and preparatory, to the university, where he taught as an interim professor before making the decision that changed his life and the Spanish party landscape: found Podemos. A return to the origins that always formed, and is, part of Iglesias’ plans. “If any university wants to hire me, it would be wonderful to go back to teaching“said Pablo Iglesias in an interview before the re-election of June 26, 2016. An idea that he has repeated regularly since he founded Podemos in 2014: return to teaching and political communication.
At the moment, this doctor in Political Science cannot apply for an associate professor position since today he does not meet the labor requirements demanded by this category, expressly designed to make teaching compatible with a job, but which would fit with the plans of future that he designs since on the election night of the 4M he said goodbye with that “walking I was what I was” with whom he said forever just 60 days ago.
Iglesias currently receives a layoff as vice president of the Government that is incompatible with any other remuneration. In fact, sources from the former vice president’s environment assure that the conference he gives this Monday before a score of students is not paid. In any case, Iglesias has consulted with the Office of Conflicts of Interest, the body that controls the incompatibilities of senior officials and the rest of the Administration staff, which has given him the go-ahead.
The most important battlefield
The course is directed by the dean of the Faculty of Political Sciences, Esther del Campo, and coordinated by Jorge Resina. In statements to elDiario.es, Resina assures that for “a course on political advice, governments and institutions, aimed at bringing together Political Science and communication, it seemed interesting to us to have someone in contact with both fields,” both in theory and in practice. “Having a relevant figure who has worked in academia, consulting and then in the foreground of politics seemed very interesting to us,” he explains.
Del Campo has regularly accompanied Iglesias on his brief returns to university while he was in the political front line. In the last, a conference together with the former vice president of Bolivia and an intellectual of reference for the left of the 21st century, Álvaro García Linera, addressed one of his obsessions in his last stage as a leader: the rise of the far right. In fact, he acquired as a commitment in the Faculty of Law the try to stop Vox when he had already signed the agreement for the coalition government with Pedro Sánchez.
That is one of the theses defended by Iglesias in his course. The far right has found its best loudspeaker precisely in the mass media, whose agenda is conditioned by the “Trumpist paradigm” that has been imposed when doing politics both in America and in Europe. And social networks, instead of “democratizing” communication, have become a “space for the dissemination of hoax and hatred”, making the structure of the media more conservative.
Given this analysis of the situation, Iglesias offers students his own vision of how a left-wing candidate should act in an ecosystem that, he argues, has narrowed to the progressive sphere in just a few years. The former vice president has always defended that the media is one of the essential political battlefields. Especially television and radio, through which the vast majority of people are informed, both in Europe and elsewhere.
Iglesias has always defended the need to occupy media spaces, even in the minority and although the discursive frameworks that arise are not conducive. It is “the most important battlefield” today, and it will still be for a few decades, according to the analysis he has routinely exposed in recent years. He himself began his short but brilliant career as a talk show host in Intereconomía. It is not about avoiding confrontations, Iglesias explains in his conference, but about preparing for them, being aware that, as he defends, the “appearance of media neutrality” it is no longer such.
The (again) political scientist has focused his lecture on the political communication of the left-wing candidate on radio and television. From how to prepare an interview to the preparation of what has been one of his strongest points: the debates with other candidates.
Iglesias has been a regular in the Summer Courses that the UCM usually organized in El Escorial (Madrid), but with the pandemic they have had to reinvent themselves. Since 2014, its passage through these thematic conference cycles have left a handful of headlines, and the occasional fairly accurate prediction. “It scares me to go from partisans to the regular army. It doesn’t have to be good for us “said in July 2016, after those 26J elections in which Unidos Podemos had the sorpasso the PSOE at your fingertips. It was also where raised the republican horizon for his party. Or where last year raised his proposal for a “new transition” following the agreement in the EU for the reconstruction fund
Iglesias has thus momentarily emerged from the retirement that he imposed himself after resigning with the express intention of not interfering in the two transitions that opened his march: at the head of Unidos Podemos and Podemos. In the first is the third vice president, Yolanda Díaz, who has assumed the leadership of the confederal space in the Government, although without finishing running as a candidate for the elections scheduled in 2023. In the second, Ione Belarra received the support of the vast majority of the more than 53,000 registered who participated in the party’s primaries.
Aware that his presence can still attract media attention, and the use that can be made of anything he says, Iglesias will measure every step he takes in the coming months. It’s something he’s always done, and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to change now.
That is why his reappearance is at the university, specifically at the Complutense, is one of those movements that hide a clear message about what he wants to be and do in the future. It was there that Iglesias studied, first; investigated, later; and began to teach. And it was there that the founding group of the party was formed, with Juan Carlos Monedero and Carolina Bescansa, who continue to give classes in Politics and Sociology; Luis Alegre, who does the same at the Faculty of Philosophy; and Íñigo Errejón, the only one of the five who remains in active institutional politics. The university will thus be part of the future of Pablo Iglesias. Although not alone, as has been repeatedly anticipated in recent years.