Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Political Science & Geography
Graduate Program in International Studies
Cathy X. Wu
Since the 2008 financial crisis ravaged the EU, Spain and Portugal struggled economically to recover, especially as forces in the EU, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) enforced bailout packages conditional on the implementation of austerity. Additionally, Spanish and Portuguese society have continuously struggled with a history of authoritarian legacies, of the Franco and Salazar dictatorships that ruled the Iberian Peninsula for nearly 50 years. As outrage continued, protest movements, most notably the Spanish 15-M Movement, fueled voter dissatisfaction. Eventually, many prominent figures from the protest movement founded or brough momentum to left-wing political forces, chiefly the Spanish Podemos and the Portuguese Left Bloc, that saw a meteoric rise in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
As a result, this thesis will argue that the combined effects of the immediate fallout of the financial crisis and the long-standing implications of Iberian authoritarian legacies have culminated in the rise of the Spanish and Portuguese New Left. In turn, these factors culminated in immense electoral success for both Podemos and the Left Bloc, and even allowed both parties to participate in government coalitions with mainstream social democratic parties, and resulted in a more economically redistributive and socially liberal system of governing in both countries. Moreover, the rise of the Iberian New Left shows a transformation of the European far-left away from tradition matter regarding workers’ rights and more toward a progressive agenda that appeals to university educated and urban voters.
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"A Leftist Political Surge: How an Authoritarian Past Helped Spawn a Modern Political Movement in Spain and Portugal"
(2023). Master of Arts (MA), Thesis, Political Science & Geography, Old Dominion University, DOI: 10.25777/p8wp-m673