Spain’s conservative Popular Party (PP) has won a snap regional election in Madrid, in a victory for the incumbent regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso. However the party fell short of an absolute majority and must form a coalition or rely on the abstention of far-right Vox to govern. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.
More than 5 million voters cast ballots on Tuesday (4 May) to choose a new regional legislature amid restrictions in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. Despite the pandemic, voter turnout hit a “historic” 80%.
Though her party emerged victorious, Ayuso may now have to rely on the support of far-right VOX party, a move the three centre-left parties had warned against.
The left-leaning socialist PSOE and Más Madrid parties, along with the far-left Unidas Podemos (United We Can) failed to obtain enough support to form a government. Unidas Podemos’ Pablo Iglesias, who stepped down as deputy prime minister to run in Madrid, announced his retirement from politics after the results were announced.
The parties marked a traditional pause, or day of reflection on Monday, fresh off a campaign trail riddled with the kind of animosity that has become commonplace in a politically divided country.
Ayuso, one of the PP’s most recognisable figures, has built her political image on libertarianism. She has perpetual pushed back against COVID-19 recommendations from the national government, a left-wing coalition between PSOE and Unidas Podemos.
She called the elections earlier this year in a political gamble to consolidate the PP’s share of the regional chamber without having to rely on a coalition with former partners Ciudadanos, a centre-right party that plummeted in Tuesday’s vote.
Spanish political debate can be an acrimonious affair and during the campaign death threats and bullets were sent to several members of the national government, a police chief and UP leader Iglesias. A death threat addressed to Ayuso was also intercepted.
No stranger to controversy, VOX sparked a legal case during the campaign when it unveiled an anti-immigration poster in Madrid’s central Sol metro station, which specifically targeted young, unaccompanied migrants. Local prosecutors alleged it amounted to discrimination.
This regional election has been seen as something of a litmus test for political sentiment beyond the Spanish capital.
[Edited by Paula Kenny and Josie Le Blond]