Pablo and Irene, who are expecting twins, recently bought a villa with a swimming pool for €600,000, involving a mortgage of €540,000 over 30 years which will cost them €800 a month each.
The balance, as well as the renovations they are currently undertaking, came out of their savings.
They came under heavy criticism, since back in 2012, Pablo criticised career politicians – whom he refers to as ‘The Caste’ – for ‘swanning around’ in ‘luxury’ properties of €600,000 whilst nearly one in four children were living in extreme poverty and unemployment was almost at 25%, with many of those who were working on very low wages.
But Pablo and Irene say they were criticising those who bought properties for this amount as ‘speculation’, in cash, and even rushed their purchases through ahead of their own government’s IVA increase, whilst they themselves have bought their villa in a country location as a permanent family home with a mortgage.
In light of the controversy, both agreed to let their membership decide whether they should carry on in their roles.
Pablo admitted that if participation in the referendum was low, he would feel obliged to stand down anyway.
But the referendum saw a record turnout – 188,176 people – of whom 128,300, or 68.42%, voted for Pablo and Irene to continue in their jobs.
Another 59,224, or 31.58%, voted for them to stand down, whilst 0.35%, or 652 in total, cast blank ballots.
Although the highest-ever turnout Podemos has seen for a membership vote, those who cast their ballots only represented fewer than half of the party’s subscribers – 487,772 in total were eligible to do so.
As a result, Pablo Iglesias will continue as party leader or secretary-general, and his partner Irene Montero will carry on as Podemos’ Parliamentary spokeswoman.
Podemos’ organisation secretary Pablo Echenique praised the pair for ‘setting an example of democracy’.
But the couple’s home in the Madrid satellite town of Galapagar – chosen for its rural location, relative privacy and the fact many of their friends live there – may not turn out to be so private after all.
Irene has complained of paparazzi photographs appearing of the house and even of her and Pablo attending gynaecology appointments ahead of the birth of their twins.
And groups on social media called on members of the public to hold a barbecue outside the villa, which was later cancelled, followed by a bring-your-own-bottle street-drinking party, known as a botellón.