15/03/2021

Strategic move or uncontrollable boomerang

2 min

In the absence of a firm resolution from the Madrid High Court of Justice, everything points to the Community of Madrid holding elections on May 4. Elections and not a motion of censure, and this implies a substantial change in the playing field. What the court has done is not to accept the precautionary measure requested by the Madrid Assembly to suspend the electoral call signed by the regional president. It is a first triumph for Isabel Díaz Ayuso and, with the electoral machines of all parties already in motion, it is hard to imagine that the court will rule otherwise. We can already see how PSOE and Ciudadanos' strategic move can leave them both empty handed: there is no motion of censure in Murcia and, for now, there will not be in Madrid either.

Therefore, rather than increase its share of regional power and gain weight in Pedro Sánchez's ever-changing parliamentary alliances, Inés Arrimadas's party - and especially her - is now unable to hide the fear of suffering mass defections to the PP and having to face an extremely delicate situation in terms of political survival. The PSOE, for its part, is left without the counterweight it was looking for to reduce both the cost of the coalition with Podemos and that of the support of the parties in the investiture pact.

The Socialists will also end up getting votes out of Ciudadanos's collapse. Both Pedro Sánchez and his chief adviser, Iván Redondo, are more adept at taking advantage of every situation created than at setting reliable courses. Seeing as the only possible coalition partner left for Ayuso is Vox, the Socialists' message for the upcoming elections is clear4: "It's either us or Vox".

But it is just as clear that the outcome of the mess is not as expected, and that Pedro Sánchez may be playing with fire. Because the Madrid elections could lead to a whitewashing of the far right that ends up with Vox holding ministerial portfolios. The apparent candour in the Murcian operation would become terribly irresponsible.

On the other hand, the general uproar has brought out everybody's worst. The PP -with Pablo Casado out of the game- has not even blushed by repeating the tamayazo and buying Ciudadanos's Murcia MPs' support; Arrimadas's party has been horrified by turncoats when its own leader was on Socialist MPs to do precisely this just over a year ago; the PSOE has had no problem in trying to turn the May 4 elections into little less than a pandemic powder keg whilst it saw no such dangers in the Catalan elections.

We are talking, then, of a considerable mess that pro-independence parties could take as little more than a divertimento. And this is understandable given the aggressiveness and political filibustering with which Ciudadanos so often behaves in Parliament. But this could be short-lived. The new scenario after the Madrid elections will surely make it more complicated than now to manage the possible support and agreements that can be reached between ERC, JxCat and the Spanish government.