"While investors have focused on the standoff between Barcelona and Madrid, they should be paying more attention to the surge in support for Podemos (We can), the left-wing anti-establishment party that didn't even exist at the end of last year and has since taken Spanish politics by storm," said Nicholas Spiro of Spiro Sovereign Strategy in a research note on Monday.
Headed by a young pony-tailed academic, Pablo Iglesias, Podemos has capitalized on corruption scandals, reform fatigue and growing disenchantment with the political elite. The party has used online crowdfunding to help finance its campaign so far, and put in a strong performance in the European Parliamentary elections in May, winning five seats.
In a poll published in Spanish newspaper "El Pais" this Saturday, 27.7 percent said they would vote for Podemos, up from 10.7 percent in August. Support for the Popular Party tumbled to 20.7 percent of the vote, falling behind the Socialist Party, which won 26.2 percent.
Thirty-six-year-old Iglesias has vowed to restrict politicians' salaries and keep Spain's health and education systems public and free. He has garnered a strong public profile, and has 710,000 followers on Twitter. His profile on the social media site declares in Spanish: "It's time for change. Of course we can!"
General elections are scheduled in Spain for the end of 2015, and a strong performance by Podemos could complicate the formation of a government, warned Barclays Research's Antonio Garcia Pascual last week in a note. These elections will follow regional ones earlier in the year—in which pro-independence parties are seen triumphing in Catalonia.