I.n Madrid, the conservative regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso was confirmed in office on Tuesday with a clear victory. The first count confirmed predictions that Ayuso at least doubled the number of MPs, but without achieving an absolute majority. With her confrontational election campaign under the motto “Freedom or Communism” and the softest lockdown in Spain, the 42-year-old politician apparently managed to mobilize numerous additional voters. The fear of infection apparently did not stop her: Despite the second highest corona incidence in Spain, long queues formed in front of the polling stations. The turnout was 69 percent, eleven percent higher than two years ago.
The early election in the capital region, which is politically important in Spain, is considered to be a directional decision for Spanish domestic politics. Ayuso had declared the socialist prime minister Pedro Sánchez to be her real opponent. For Sánchez’s left-wing coalition, the election result was a major defeat. The PSOE party of the Spanish Prime Minister lost up to ten mandates according to the forecasts of the broadcaster RTVE and the newspaper La Razon. Two years ago the Socialists were the strongest party.
The smallest party in the new regional parliament is expected to be Sánchez’s coalition partner Podemos. The Podemos chairman Pablo Iglesias ran as the top candidate and resigned from his position as deputy head of the Spanish government. The regional left party “Más Madrid”, on the other hand, will send around twice as many members to the new regional parliament.
The left in Madrid has no chance of a majority against the strengthened right. To achieve this, Ayuso needs the support of the Vox party, which is gaining influence – whether it comes down to the first formal coalition between PP and Vox or the tolerance of their minority government. Ayuso had left that open until election day. Nothing is left of their previous coalition partner, the right-wing liberal Ciudadanos party. The Ciudadanos failed at the five percent hurdle. The party, which two years ago was still in the process of overtaking the conservative PP, continued its decline into political insignificance.
In the evening, the PP celebrated Ayuso’s success as “historic”. The regional president’s polarizing election campaign reminded many of the confrontational political style of former American President Donald Trump. Ayuso’s victory strengthens her position in the party. Its chairman, Pablo Casado, had to accept one defeat after the other after the vote of no confidence in the PP government almost three years ago.
Most recently, he had endeavored to move the PP more into the political center. Ayuso and her supporters, on the other hand, did not shy away from adopting more radical positions in the Vox party. In Madrid one wonders whether their increased influence will result in a new shift to the right of the PP.
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