Ayuso and Madrid's covid excess mortality

2 min
Isabel Díaz Ayuso during her investiture speech at the Madrid Assembly.

The president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, made her investiture speech on Thursday completely oblivious to the terrifying statistics on excess mortality during 2020 that the national institute of statistics had made public. This body certified what other sources had already pointed out but which is now confirmed: excess mortality in the Community of Madrid far exceeded the figure in Catalonia and more than doubled the Spanish average: whereas the average excess of deaths was 17.7% in the whole of Spain, in Madrid it rose to 41.2%, while in Catalonia it was 23.5%. The Valencian Country and the Balearic Islands were below the average, with 10.4% and 7.1%, respectively.

These figures can have many explanations, but what they certainly do not allow is to boast about the management of the health crisis in Madrid. Recall that other statistics have indicated that the Community of Madrid is the region that had the highest mortality rate in nursing homes, whose management depends on the regional government, and it is also perfectly verifiable that the cumulative incidence has remained at high levels for a long time. The conclusion is very clear: Madrid has paid dearly, in human lives, for populist decisions running against the criteria of scientists. These included allowing the opening of bars and restaurants when the other regions kept them closed. But no only that: Madrid acted as a superspreader, since the most affected areas have been precisely the two Castillas, the areas closest to the capital which have an aging population and, therefore, are more vulnerable.

With these figures on the table, Ayuso's resounding victory in the May 4 elections is even more incomprehensible. Not only this, but listening to her investiture speech it is clear that the last of her priorities is the welfare of the citizens of Madrid and the only thing she is interested in is to fight a culture war against the left and Pedro Sánchez's government. Hence her references to pardons and some of her promises, designed to please the far right, since she needs Vox's votes to be invested.

The announcement of aid for pregnant women from the fifth month of gestation or plans to avoid the application of the euthanasia law are nods towards radical Catholics and anti-abortion groups, which are very active in Madrid. The insistence on lowering taxes, especially on high incomes, seeks to attract even more investments or tax residencies from people who reside in other territories, which, in turn, are impoverished by this fiscal dumping. Madrid not only acted in an unsupportive manner during the pandemic, refusing to apply restrictions and exporting the coronavirus outside its borders, but insists on hoovering up all the available resources around it, and makes emptied Spain's plight more severe. If Ayuso is to be the ideological guide of the Spanish right, and it seems she will be, the picture that emerges is bleak.