What's going on then?
An existential crisis in Podemos, of sorts. The young protest party has just begun a week-long campaign to choose a new strategic political direction and vote for a leader. Tempers are being lost.
Is it real this time?
Podemos leaders are not shy of the camera, and not unknowledgeable about media manipulation, but this seems different.
Why is this in the news today?
One of the founding members of Podemos, Luis Alegre—part of the Vistalegre Five, in reference to the first major party conference the party held in 2014—has written a scathing opinion article in El Diario accusing Pablo Iglesias's team (but not Pablo Iglesias himself) of being ready to destroy the party.
Destroy the party? That's a bit strong, isn't it? Did he actually say that?
He did. Twice. Alegre wrote that: "since we founded Podemos, I haven't come across anything as damaging for Pablo and the project as the group that is currently ready to destroy it all in order not to lose their positions as courtesans".
Concluding, and by way of explanation for his bombshell article a few days before the vote, he said there was a "group of conspirators about to take control of Podemos", adding: "I believe this is something that will almost certainly happen, because they are going to be able to parasite Pablo to destroy the organisation".
Merriam-Webster and Collins define it as "to infest or live on or with as a parasite", "to infest or infect with parasites", "to live on (another organism) as a parasite".
Right, serious stuff, then. Did he name names?
He did. Podemos MPs Rafa Mayoral, Irene Montero (who is also Pablo Iglesias's chief of staff) and Juanma del Olmo
And what have they got to say for themselves?
Del Olmo was silent on Twitter on Sunday. Montero posted an eight-minute video of herself supporting Pablo Iglesias yesterday. Mayoral wrote a tweet full of empty slogans: "Patriotism is the other person. When those below move, those above totter. Smile because yes we can!".
Pablo Iglesias stuck to retweets about the Goya's (Spain's Oscars), which he attended last night in a dinner jacket. On a TV show on Saturday night, however, he also said "we were wrong, we have presented an image to people that is shameful".
Is Pablo Iglesias's attire at at a cinema ceremony really relevant?
To his detractors it is. The Podemos leader is never normally seen wearing a tie, never mind a dinner jacket. It's part of his carefully crafted image as a "politician of the people", versus the suit-wearing "elite establishment". So on Goyas night, Spanish conservative Twitter erupts with memes and outrage, wondering why he can't make more of an effort when he attends parliament or goes to see the King.
So is there a chance Pablo Iglesias might be out as leader of Podemos?
There appears to be, and by his own admission.
Oh, he's threatened to resign? To take a stand?
He has. Mr. Iglesias said that if his political strategy option loses (to Iñigo Errejón's plan), he will step down as party leader but remain on the party's Citizen Council. He made a similar threat last time.
Isn't the leadership the same as the political strategy?
Apparently not. This week, party members are voting for two things: party leader and strategic direction.
Is anybody running against Pablo Iglesias as leader?
Yes, a lawyer from Seville called Juan Moreno Yagüe, sometimes known as "the Podemos guy who wears a tie" (see, we told you ties were relevant). He's big on what he calls Democracy 4.0 and fighting the banks and mortgage injustices.
And what about the strategic direction bit?
The opposing camp is led by Podemos number two Iñigo Errejón. There are some other rival lists (groups), including an anti-capitalist one called Podemos in Movement, but most of the action is between Iglesias and Errejón.
And what are the two competing options really about?
Nobody seems to be paying much attention to Yague, but at the heart of the fight between Iglesias and Errejón is a two-year long struggle over how the party should approach the political situation in Spain, after rocketing to 71 seats in parliament from nothing in two years, after two inconclusive general elections, and after a year of political stalemate that has ended in a minority Popular Party government following a palace coup in the Spanish Socialist Party last October.
The two options are, broadly, the idea that the party should go back to its confrontational, anti-establishment roots, or move towards the centre and social democracy where the Spanish Socialist Party is or used to be, accepting it is now an established party and must work within the system.
Pablo Iglesias heads up the anti-establishment group and Iñigo Errejón leads the centrist bunch.
The dichotomy stems from the party's political christening at the 2014 European elections. Many young Spaniards were electrified by the appearance of the radical new protest party after years of economic crisis, the PSOE's then leader, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, resigned the following day and a week later King Juan Carlos announced he was abdicating. The events of those few weeks were all related and the Spanish establishment really was very worried Podemos would upset the applecart.
The centrist option was first floated after Podemos took stock of its rapid rise in the polls as Spain got stuck into what ended up being a nearly two-year long local, regional and general election cycle. The idea was to ditch some of the more radical ideas, especially the economic ones that frightened international investors, and try to seduce socialist voters.
So by next Sunday we'll know which way Podemos is going: back to anti-establishment protest or a leftist mishmash option closer to the PSOE.
What else has happened?
Another one of the "Vistalegre Five", the only woman, Carolina Bescansa, resigned from the party leadership on February 2, although she will stay on as an MP.
So there has been an actual senior resignation because of all this?
There has. Bescansa said after resigning that "When two trains decided to race towards each other, the most sensible thing is not to jump on board".
And how many of the Vistalgre Five are left?
Just Pablo Iglesias and Iñigo Errejón. Juan Carlos Monedero resigned in April 2015. Luis Alegre (who wrote the scathing op-ed today) has gone back to university life.
What happens next?
Voting continues for registered Podemos members, and tonight Iñigo Errejón will be interviewed on a prime-time weekend TV show, which you can watch live here at 9:30 p.m. Spanish time. The results of this week's votes will be made public next Sunday.