Madrid leader scores stunning right-wing victory in regional poll
Spain’s conservative Popular Party on Tuesday won a spectacular victory in a crucial regional election in Madrid – doubling its vote, inflicting a humiliating defeat on the ruling Socialists and prompting the resignation of the leader of the radical left party Podemos.
The result is a personal triumph for Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the PP leader of the Madrid region who called the elections, although she will have to count on the support of the far-right Vox party.
This is a huge boost for the PP, Spain’s main opposition party, after a series of recent setbacks, including the worst results in its history in the 2019 general election and winning just 4% of the vote in the regional surveys in Catalonia in February.
By contrast, the night was a disaster for Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Socialists, whose vote slipped 10 percentage points, slipping behind an upstart leftist group called More Madrid.
Díaz Ayuso, who campaigned on the slogan ‘Freedom’, has repeatedly clashed with the Socialist-led national government over coronavirus policy, imposing fewer restrictions than the rest of the country and keeping the industry hotel room in the area open for months.
In her victory speech on Tuesday night, she said the days of Sánchez’s takeover “are numbered”.
“Today, freedom has won in Madrid; tomorrow he will win all over Spain, ”added Pablo Casado, the national leader of the PP.
The election also marked the end of the political career of Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the radical left-wing group Podemos, who had resigned as deputy prime minister of the national coalition to run in Madrid – but is no longer arrived that fifth.
On Tuesday evening, Iglesias, who called the results a “tragedy,” said he was quitting all his remaining posts and stepping out of politics.
With 99% of the votes counted in the Greater Madrid region, which has 6.6 million inhabitants, the PP had obtained 44.7% – 22 percentage points more than in the previous election in 2019 – against around 17% each. for More Madrid and the socialists. With 65 deputies, the PP is just short of a majority in the regional assembly of 136 members.
The PP has attempted to reverse the fragmentation of the Spanish right in recent years and owed most of its increase in support to the collapse of the centrist Ciudadanos party. His former coalition partner has not crossed the 5% representation threshold.
But the PP remains dependent on Vox, who immediately pledged his support to Díaz Ayuso.
Many analysts say the race will have far-reaching consequences, given the importance of the Spanish regions in the country’s decentralized system of government, Madrid’s role as the country’s economic powerhouse, and Sánchez’s close involvement in the campaign. .
As the results arrived on Tuesday evening, crowds sang and danced outside the PP headquarters, celebrating what they hailed as a devastating defeat for Sánchez and his minority government.
The vote comes at a very sensitive time, with the national emergency rules underpinning Spain’s coronavirus restrictions expiring on Sunday, with the Sánchez government planning to spend € 140 billion in EU recovery funds and the possibility that other regional elections – for example in Andalusia – could be triggered by the success of the PP’s gambit.
“Sánchez is in very bad shape,” said Nacho Torreblanca of the European Council for External Relations. “The Socialists could not win the votes neither of Ciudadanos nor of the left. . . Now the question is whether Sánchez can rule with the dead weight of Podemos, leaving everything to European funds. “
The Socialists came out on top in the previous Madrid poll in 2019, but were unable to form a coalition. On Tuesday evening, José Luis Ábalos, a senior socialist leader, said the results were “disappointing but did not reflect all of Spain”.
The turnout was high, with almost 70% attendance at 7 p.m., and long lines at voting booths across the region.