Spain’s socialists face drubbing in Madrid regional election

Madrid votes Tuesday in an early regional election. The incumbent conservative Popular Party is expected to win comfortably, dealing a blow to Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Madrid regional elections

Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the outgoing leader of the key Madrid regional administration, has consistently pushed back against central government pressure to impose tighter virus restrictions.

The 42-year-old rising star in the PP argues keeping the economy afloat and preserving social interaction is also important for health.

On her watch, Madrid has had Spain’s lightest virus restrictions. It has been the only major European capital to keep bars, restaurants and theatres open with few restrictions since a nationwide lockdown ended in mid-2020.

“Having beers is important,” Díaz Ayuso told Ser radio station last month. “After a bad day, a beer cheers you up.”

She has been campaigning under the slogan “Freedom”. Critics however say her lax restrictions have come at too high a price.

They point out that Madrid has the highest percentage of intensive care beds occupied by Covid-19 patients in the country, at nearly 45 percent – and one of the country’s highest infection rates.

Just over 5.1 million people are eligible to vote in the election in Spain’s richest region, which has been governed by the PP since 1995.

Polling stations opened at 9:00 am and close at 8:00 pm, with results expected several hours later.

Bottles of hand sanitiser are placed next to ballots at a polling station in Madrid during the Madrid regional elections. Photo: JAVIER SORIANO / AFP

Death threats 

Final opinion polls give the PP party around 40-percent support, almost double their result in the May 2019 election.

That would put them well ahead of the Socialists, whose backing in the opinion poll had dropped to 20 percent from just over 27 percent in 2019.

Depending on the scale of her victory Díaz Ayuso may yet still need the support of far-right Vox party to govern. That would not be “the end of the world”, she has said.

Leftist parties have sought to rally their voters by warning of the dangers of the PP governing with anti-immigrant Vox.

During the Socialist party final campaign rally on Sunday night, Sanchez repeated his warning that “our democracy” was at stake in the elections.

The campaign has also seen anonymous death threat letters with bullets sent to top politicians, including Díaz Ayuso and the leader of far-left party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias.

Podemos is the junior partner in Sánchez’s minority coalition government and Iglesias stepped down as a deputy prime minister in Sánchez’s coalition government to run as the party’s candidate.

The early election was called by Díaz Ayuso in March after she broke up her ruling coalition with the centrist Ciudadanos party, which is expected to struggle to win any seats in this election.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about Madrid’s regional election 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Spain postpones its EuroMed summit as PM still has Covid

A summit grouping nine southern European countries that was due to take place in Alicante on Friday has been postponed because Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has continued to test positive for Covid-19, his office said Thursday.

Spain postpones its EuroMed summit as PM still has Covid

The EuroMed 9, which groups Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain, was to have gathered in the southeastern city of Alicante on September 30th.

Sánchez, who was to host the summit, had on Sunday confirmed having Covid, and by Thursday he was still testing positive, his office said.

“This morning, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez took a diagnostic test and was still positive for Covid-19,” it said.

“As a precaution, the decision has been taken to postpone the MED-9 summit which was going to be held in Alicante tomorrow.”

It did not give a new date for the summit.

Sánchez tested positive several days after flying back from the UN General Assembly in New York.

He has since suspended much of his agenda but has continued attending events online.

Nine heads of state and government had been due to attend Friday’s summit, among them French President Emmanuel Macron and outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU council President Charles Michel were also due to attend for a summit focused on the energy crisis facing Europe as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The EuroMed group was created in 2016 to strengthen the cooperation between Mediterranean and southern EU member states.