Regional election in Madrid: “saints” of the bar keepers continue to rule

Regional election in Madrid
The “saints” of the innkeepers continue to rule

In the corona pandemic, the conservative prime minister of the Madrid region, Isabel DíazAyuso, is taking a different course than the socialist Spanish government. She implements restrictions reluctantly at best and risks higher death rates in return. When it comes to regional elections, this is not a disadvantage – on the contrary.

The conservative People’s Party (PP) has achieved an impressive victory with its top candidate in the early regional election in the capital region of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. The party of the Prime Minister of the “Comunidad Autónoma” (Autonomous Community) came on Tuesday to 64 of the 136 seats in the regional parliament, as the electoral authority announced after counting more than 85 percent of the votes. This enabled it to more than double its 2019 result (30 seats).

Ayoso will most likely miss the absolute majority of the seats (69), which is why the Conservatives in Madrid will still have to rely on the tolerance of Vox despite the large number of votes. According to official information, the right-wing populist party improved from 12 to 13 seats. The three left parties together could only win 59 seats and thus have no chance of forming a government.

The defeat of the left is also likely to increase pressure on the minority government of Spanish socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez. Ayuso and PP leader Pablo Casado had emphasized that an election victory in Madrid could mark the “beginning of the end” for the Sánchez government. The election campaign was extremely polarized. There was hardly any mention of the major economic and social problems in a country exhausted by the corona pandemic, which is placing all hopes in the EU’s aid billions.

Polarizing election campaign

Ayuso made a name for herself by repeatedly attacking the Sánchez government and only reluctantly or not at all to implement the corona restrictions for Madrid. Despite higher numbers of infected people and deaths, many gave her credit for keeping it open. Madrid has been called the “party capital of Europe” and pub owners call Ayuso a “Santa”, meaning a saint.

At the end of March, the 42-year-old had terminated the coalition with the liberal-conservative Partgei Ciudadanos, dissolved the regional parliament and scheduled a new election. In doing so, she had anticipated a vote of no confidence in herself. Ciudadanos is now likely to fail at the five percent hurdle.

During the election campaign, the left parties warned against a pact between Ayusos and Vox. Sánchez had described this possibility as “the beginning of the end of a life-filled democracy”. Pablo Iglesias from the left-wing alternative Unidas Podemos, who had given up his post as vice head of government for his party’s top candidacy, even went into the fight with the battle cry of “fascism or democracy”.

The Madrid region is the home country of the Conservatives, since 1995 the PP had won all elections by a large margin in some cases. In 2019, the party then experienced a slump.