But Podemos itself has changed.
He replied, ‘Well, I’m from Podemos in Calatayud.’
Podemos, only founded in 2011, are now the third largest party in the Spanish parliament.
Iglesias welcomes comparisons between Podemos and Syriza, but he has been careful to distance Podemos from anti-establishment parties on the right that have made similarly big strides riding voter dissatisfaction with Brussels, like the United Kingdom Independence Party in Britain or the National Front in France.
IU and the Socialists are watching Podemos closely.
Podemos, in particular, has tapped the frustration of the young.
PSOE, Podemos and ERC together would give any government a narrow majority to pass budgets.
The crux of their disagreement is over how much power Podemos would have in the government.
Worried about letting Podemos claim the mantle of opposition, Mr Sánchez took the first course.
City halls will provide a first taste of how Podemos, which is just 18 months old, handles power.
But on the wider use of direct democracy, as with other matters, Podemos does not yet have a settled strategy.
If Podemos can grow further, Iglesias could become prime minister after elections that are expected in November.
Podemos accepted that it had been using the channel for this purpose but said other parties had been doing so as well.
But having held Podemos at bay, Mr Rajoy has found that populism in Catalonia poses an even bigger problem, notes a former minister.
“Hopefully Podemos would be willing to work with us,” former PSOE minister Juan Fernando López Aguilar told me in Brussels in December.
Podemos then embarked on the complex process of writing a “participative” election manifesto, based on ideas from the circles and then voted for online.
He told the crowd that if 50,000 people signed a petition on the Podemos website, he would lead a list of candidates at the European parliamentary elections in May.
Alternatively, a PSOE tie up with Unidos Podemos, Ciudadanos and possibly smaller parties cannot be dismissed either, especially as Podemos has hinted that it may be open for compromise on its support for a Catalan referendum.
Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, having led the Socialists to an historic low at the last elections in June 2016, stormed into office 10 months ago after staging a shock no-confidence vote against the then conservative government, backed by left-wing Podemos (now Unidas Podemos) and regional nationalist parties.
Filling the political vacuum are Unidos Podemos (Podemos and Izquierda Unida together), seen as the sister grouping of the ruling Syriza in Greece, and Ciudadanos, whose rise has been fuelled by popular anger over political scandals, deep economic recession and the growing clamour for independence in Catalonia.
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Filling the political vacuum are Unidos Podemos Podemos and Izquierda Unida together seen as the sister grouping of the ruling Syriza in Greece and Ciudadanos whose rise has been fuelled by popular anger over political scandals deep economic recession and the growing clamour for independence in Catalonia