Madrid (AP) – The conservative head of government of the Spanish capital of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has achieved a historic victory in the regional elections, especially with her policy of lax corona restrictions in favor of the economy.
The incumbent party with its People’s Party (PP) reached 44.73 percent of the vote in early elections on Tuesday and captured 65 of the 136 seats in the regional parliament – twice as many as in 2019 and more than the three left parties combined. .
Since the pandemic started a good year ago, Ayuso has repeatedly attacked the head of the left-wing central government, Pedro Sánchez, who pushed for severe restrictions on public life in order to contain the pandemic. However, like the FDP in Germany, it repeatedly pushed for easing.
It started with the motto “Freedom or communism”, which would hardly win a flower pot in other European countries. Ayuso, however, skillfully avoided questions of fact during the election campaign and accused Sánchez of illegally curtailing freedoms and “decaying the main region”. At the same time, it kept restaurants, gyms and museums as open as possible and Madrid became the “party capital” of Europe. The TV broadcaster RTVE christened her “bar queen”.
The Spanish minority government, made up of Sanchez’s socialist PSOE and the left-wing alternative Unidas Podemos, is under great pressure from the electoral debacle. The Socialists lost 13 of their previous 37 seats. “Ayuso beats Sánchez KO”, headlines the conservative newspaper “El Mundo”. The 42-year-old immediately used her victory speech for new attacks on Sánchez. “Freedom has won today” and “Spain is something else, Mr. Sánchez,” she shouted in front of cheering supporters waving Spanish flags, saying, “Freedom !, Freedom!” sung. Now “a new chapter” begins, the days of Sánchez are numbered. PP boss Pablo Casado described Ayuso’s triumph as a “vote of no confidence in Sánchez”.
The fact that dealing casually with corona risks in Madrid led to significantly higher rates of infections and deaths than in most other regions of Spain apparently did not detract from Ayuso’s popularity. Again, she blamed the hated central government. She was responsible for the late availability of vaccines. And anyway, the government only threw clubs between her legs. The fact that the public health system in Madrid was in particularly bad shape after 26 years of PP government was drowned out in the din of the extremely polarized election campaign.
Small consolation for the socialists: Ayuso missed an absolute majority with four seats and will therefore continue to depend on the tolerance of the right-wing populists from Vox in the future, despite the large increase in votes. “Pedro Sánchez will try to take advantage of it,” an analyst predicted on TV.
Ayuso celebrated a second victory on election night. Her arch-rival Pablo Iglesias of the left-wing alternative UP, who opposed her and Vox with the rallying cry “fascism or democracy”, announced his withdrawal from politics given the disappointing election results.