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Maggie's out as mayor renames Madrid square

Jessica Jones · 3 Jul 2015, 09:58

Published: 03 Jul 2015 09:58 GMT+02:00

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Madrid’s tribute to former conservative British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is under threat, less than a year after its grand opening.

The city’s new left-wing council, headed by mayor Manuela Carmena, is looking to rename the square after pressure from one of her coalition partners, left-wing protest party Podemos.

Could this be Spain's own Margaret Thatcher?

Podemos has argued that a public space should not "carry the name of the Iron Lady who enslaved the workers’ movement", according to Spanish daily El Confidencial.

The party also argued that the square - the first named after the former Conservative Prime Minister - was inaugurated by former conservative mayor, Ana Botella, who "was not elected by anyone".

Botella was never voted in as mayor of Madrid, rather ascending to the position in 2003 when Mayor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón resigned from his position to become justice minister.

Photo: Former Madrid mayor Ana Botella at the inauguration of Plaza Margaret Thatcher, which was also attended by the former Prime Minister's son, Mark Thatcher. Photo: UK in Spain/Flickr

When Thatcher died in 2013, Botella set the ball rolling to name a Madrid square after the woman she described as a "pioneer" and an "inspiration".

Madrid was a traditional stronghold of conservatism, but a drubbing at the polls in the recent local elections brought an end to the Popular Party’s 24-year rule and catapulted former communist judge Carmena to the top position at city hall.

Eight savings made by Madrid mayor Manuela 

Carmena has already been shaking things up in Madrid, giving up many of the privileges associated with the position of mayor. She has cut her salary and refused to use the chauffeur-driven car that comes with the position, instead opting to take the metro with thousands of other Madrileños.

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Carmena has also given up City Hall’s official box at Madrid’s Las Ventas bullring, as well as its VIP box at the city’s opera.

While it has not yet been decided who will replace Margaret Thatcher, so far suggestions include Serbian-American inventor and engineer Nikola Tesla.

And Margaret Thatcher square is not the only name Madrid’s new mayor plans to change.

Vázquez de Mella square in the heart of Chueca, Madrid’s gay district, looks set to be named after Pedro Zerolo, a Spanish champion of gay rights who died from cancer in June 2015. 

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Jessica Jones (jessica.jones@thelocal.com)

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