Elections in Madrid
Politics 05/05/2021

Ayuso achieves a sweeping victory and will be able to govern with the abstention of Vox

4-M causes an earthquake on the left: Iglesias withdraws and Más Madrid overtakes the PSOE

4 min
The president of the cominitat of Madrid, Isabel Diaz Ayuso , votes

MadridMadrid is right-wing. Not even the historic turnout -over 76% registered yesterday in the elections in the Community of Madrid- managed to spoil Isabel Díaz Ayuso's plans. The Madrid president's nationalism, heir to more than 25 years of neoliberal policies of the PP in the Spanish capital, swept the polls - just four seats short of an absolute majority - and the Popular Party will only need the abstention of the 13 Vox MPs to govern. The strategy devised by Ayuso with the domino effect of the failed motion of censure in Murcia has worked to perfection. Not even in the best of omens could she have imagined the post 4-M scenario: she will surely be able to govern alone without ultra councillors and her greatest adversary, the leader of Unidas Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, announced that he is leaving politics after the poor results - the purple party only got 3 more MPs.

After a decade of steadily losing seats in the Community of Madrid, the PP has more than doubled its number of seats - from 30 to 65 -, absorbing Ciudadanos - which has disappeared - and containing the advance of Vox - which has only increased by one seat - to the point of once again opting to govern alone. Pablo Casado is once again looking towards the Moncloa with the conviction that it is possible to regroup the centre-right under his acronym, but at the same time he sees how the threat of Ayusismo is growing as an internal current within the hardest wing of the PP. From the balcony of the headquarters on Calle Genova, before hundreds of euphoric people dancing without a safety distance, the leader of the PP read the results as a "motion of censure on Sanchismo" and assured that Madrid is the "kilometre zero of change in Spain". "There is a party", he predicted. The same message that the Moncloa had conveyed throughout the campaign and that the results have disproved.

A new leader in the opposition

The 4-M landslide is monumental for the left. The PSOE obtains the worst results in its history and Más Madrid matches it in seats (24) and surpasses it in votes, making Mónica García de facto leader of the opposition. The night was even worse for Iglesias, who left the second vice-presidency of the Spanish government to try to boost Podemos in Madrid when the polls even left them out of the Assembly. What is certain is that they will finally remain in the Madrid parliament, but despite putting the party on his shoulders Iglesias only gains three deputies compared to 2019. The poor results precipitated his farewell yesterday with the resignation of all positions.

Podemos' campaign slogan has remained a dead letter: it called for "the majority to speak" to show that Madrid is left-wing although low turnout had given the governments to the right. With a historic turnout, the conservatives also won. Unlike on 14 February in Catalonia, the pandemic did not dampen the desire to vote and the polarisation resulted in long queues of up to an hour from early in the morning at the polling stations. This, added to the fact that for the first time since 1987 the elections were held on a working day. In fact, there was a similar peak to the mobilisation of 21 December 2017 in Catalonia, after 1-O and the application of 155 by Mariano Rajoy.

Sánchez calls for responsibility

The debacle is also unprecedented for the PSOE. Yesterday, Pedro Sánchez did not even go to Ferraz to follow the results - it is not usual for him to do so in regional elections, but these had a strong battle component at the state level - and limited himself to reminding Ayuso that in addition to good results, the polls have given him a "great responsibility". From minute one Ayuso wanted to turn the elections into a plebiscite on the management of the Spanish coalition government. The Spanish president initially fell into the trap, but during the last two weeks he has tried to distance himself from it. The involvement of his ministers in the campaign, however, in an attempt to boost the low profile of their candidate, Ángel Gabilondo, puts the Socialists in a delicate position.

The secretary of organisation of the PSOE, José Luis Ábalos, insisted yesterday that it was not possible to make a reading in a state key. "They are only elections in Madrid, they do not represent the whole of Spain", he said from Ferraz. This will be the message that will be transmitted in the coming days, but the PSOE needs a deep reading of the results: the Community is completely stained blue - except for two small municipalities where the PSOE wins. Also in the traditionally red belt and in all the districts of the Spanish capital the PP wins. There has inevitably been a transfer of votes from the Socialists to the Popular Party, as predicted by the pre-election barometer of the Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas (CIS), which predicted up to 6% from the PSOE, but the results were completely wrong. Its director, José Luis Tezanos, described PP voters as "tabernarians" during the day of reflection. Ahir Ayuso stuck to it: if in the afternoon he asked the "tabernarios" how they were getting on during the day, in the evening, in front of a crowd dancing since 9pm -when there were still no results-, she jokingly hoped that they had had a "good day" while repeating the benefits of living "a la madrileña" with "freedom". With this speech, Ayuso surpasses the 1.5 million votes that her mentor, Esperanza Aguirre, won in 2011 with an absolute majority of 72 MPs. At that time she had no competition from the right. But the president of Madrid manages to stop the feet of Vox -the ultra-Italian Northern League's Matteo Salvini congratulated her yesterday-, which has already anticipated that it will facilitate the formation of a government. Casado and Ayuso can breathe a sigh of relief, while the left will need time to digest the results.