Madrid Marches To Ayuso´s Tune

The latest opinion polls indicate that regional premier, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, is set to almost double the seats of her Partido Popular in the Madrid Assembly elections on Tuesday, 4th May.

The poll in this weekend´s El Pais newspaper gives the Partido Popular between 55 and 60 seats – while the CIS poll also sees the PP make large gains though both indicate that the election still leaves her short to form a majority government in the 136 seat regional assembly.

The snap elections were called in a move seen by some as a manouevre to take advantage of the perceived weakness of the Partido Popular´s governing coalition partners, Ciudadanos, who look likely to lose votes and seats, as well as Ayuso´s own strong approval rating for her handling of the pandemic.

The coalition government was formed after the inconclusive 2019 election results which gave the PP 30 seats and Ciudadanos 26 seats. Together with far-right party Vox´s 12 seat support in the assembly, which gave the governing centre-right coalition sufficent votes to legislate.

The assembly term is set at every 4 years so the coalition regional government was set to run until 2023.

The Partido Popular have either governed the Madrid region alone or in coalition for the last 26 years.

The elections, which have been acrimonious from the start, have been billed by the Partido Popular as a battle between “freedom” and “communism” and by the left as a battle to stop “fascism.”

Death threats have been received on both sides.

The language of the campaign reflecting the wide chasm between the left and right in a Spanish political climate of increased polarisation and toxic debate.

The state of the parties on the eve of the election are:

Partido Popular (PP) – 2019 Results: 30 seats – 22.2% vote share

Led by 42 year old Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the party appears to be rebounding from its 2019 low, though national leader Pablo Casado has yet to make the promised impact to turn the party´s fortunes around.

Her handling of the pandemic has seen many clashes with the PSOE/Podermos central government but proved popular with voters, especially business owners who have not faced the level of lockdown and restrictions that have impacted many of Spain´s 17 autonomous communities.

Despite the economic impact of the coronavirus, the Madrid regional economy has avoided the worst, seen in other regions, although it was – and remains one of the the hardest hit by the virus.

PSOE Socialist Party – 2019 results: 37 seats – 27.3% vote share 

Led by 72 year old Angel Gabilendo ( brother of broadcaster Iñaki) the Madrid university professor was unable to form an administration after the 2019 elections despite being the largest party by vote share and seats. His style – serious and less sensationalist than Ayuso´s is reflected in the party´s campaign.

Despite some solid debate appearances and rallies the party´s key message of better governance and better working with the PSOE central government has not translated in the polls and there is little sign of  improving on the 2019 result let alone overtaking the Partido Popular. He has been a consistent critic of her handling of the pandemic from both the health and business perspectives.

Ciudadanos – 2019 results: 26 seats – 19.5% vote share 

Led by Edmundo Bal, Ciudadanos are the biggest losers in the polling so far, with many showing that they will be shy of the 5% threshold required for representation in the regional assembly.

The centrish party have proved a major casualty of the political polarisation in the region – despite that the party has with deputy regional head, Ignacio Aguado shown to be capable in government.

Coupled with a series of errors on the national stage if the polls prove correct the election could be a trigger for a collapse in the party´s support across the country – just a few years after its founder and and popular leader, Albert Rivera resigned.

Should they break the 5% threshold and pick up regional seats it could make the difference for the balance of power in the assembly as well as keep the party alive as an ongoing national political force.

Más Madrid – 2019 results: 20 seats – 14.7% vote share

The party of popular mayor,Manuela Carmena, is led by Mónica García who is seen as a worthy successor with an energetic campaign focused on PP´s handling of the pandemic.

An anaesthesiologist before entering politics, García’s medical background, which also saw her working on the front line at the Hospital 12 de Octubre during the pandemic, has earned her and the party plaudits and polls show the party closing on the PSOE to lead the left wing vote.

Depending the arithmatic of the vote once translated into seats the party could still be in contention for a return to government if a coalition of the left can be formed.

Vox – 2019 results: 12 seats – 8.9% vote share

Although not part of the governing coalition of Ayuso, the far right party has supported it in the regional assembly with its 12 seats giving her the votes necessary to pass legislation.

However from the beginning of the campaign, Vox has engaged in a confrontational and polemic strategy to win votes on the right of the political spectrum in line with it´s traditionalist goal of hacer España Grande otra vez. Its campaign poster and image of a hooded immigrant with slogan that it costs €4,700 to maintain him compared to the €426 pension given “your grandma” was condemned across the political spectrum as being rascist.

Their regional leader in Madrid, Rocío Monasterio has proved an effective campaigner in the populist style of national leader Santiago Abascal, and looks set to maintain, if not increase its share of the vote. Should Ayuso fail to win a majority she is likely to be the queen maker in deciding to support her.

Unidas Podemos – 2019 results: 7 seats – 5.7% vote share 

Founded in 2014 in the wake of the anti-austerity 15 M Anto-Austerity Movement the left wing coalition under Pablo Iglesias has challenged the traditional PSOE Socialist domination of the left.

As coalition partners and deputy Prime Minister in the central goverment of Pedro Sanchez, Iglesias resigned in order to contest the Madrid elections.

A left wing manifesto of increased public spending, social progressivism and renationalization has yet to look a vote winner on the scale required to take power unless part of a broader left wing alliance of which UP look like being the smallest of the three parties in contention.



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