The governability of the state
Politics 11/03/2021

PP-Cs war throws Madrid into chaos

Ayuso brings forward the elections to try to avoid the aftershocks of the earthquake with its epicentre in Murcia

MARIONA FERRER / OT SERRA
4 min
Isabel Díaz Ayuso surrounded yesterday by the councillors of the PP.

MadridWednesday began with the announcement of a double vote of no confidence against the PP in Murcia, cooked over a slow fire and with secrecy by the PSOE and Ciudadanos, and ended with a political earthquake at a state level with implications for all parties. The Spanish president, Pedro Sánchez, predicted two weeks ago, after 14-F, the end of a long electoral cycle that would allow all parties to reconfigure their forces. But Spain is entering a new period of turbulence. The president of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, responded to the events in Murcia by breaking with Cs and hastily calling elections elections for May 4. The elections, however, are now up in the air. The Madrid Assembly admitted in the afternoon the votes of no confidence registered by the PSOE and Más Madrid with the aim, precisely, to frustrate the plans of the president, who considers it a case of "prevarication".

The legal conflict has been served and everything points to the fact that, like 14-F, it will end up being resolved in the courts. However, what emerged from the day was above all an implosion of the Spanish right-wing after months of disagreements and the definitive end of Pablo Casado's España Suma project - the former spokeswoman for the orange party, Lorena Roldán, pointed out on Twitter that "time had proved him right". Cs is expected to win a regional presidency for the first time on 25 March, when the no-confidence motion against the Partido Popular's Fernando López Miras wins in Murcia, but the most important regional government, that of Madrid, is now slipping away. Despite the electoral uncertainty, Ayuso dismissed all the coucillors of the orange party on Wednesday - today she has called an extraordinary government council which they will no longer attend - and presented herself as the victim of a collusion between Ciudadanos and the socialists, despite the fact that her vice-president until yesterday, Ignacio Aguado, accused her of "lying".

The earthquake had aftershocks in Castilla y León, with the presentation of a fifth no-confidence vote, this time only by the PSOE, against the PP president Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, who governs with Ciudadanos. But both PP and the oranges made a pact and ruled out the call for early elections, as well as the success of the vote. In Andalusia the two parties, which govern in coalition with the external support of Vox, also sent a message of tranquility: "The government of Andalusia enjoys very good health", said its president, Juanma Moreno, at a joint press conference with the number two of Ciudadanos, Juan Marin.

It is therefore Ayuso who has decided to start an electoral race despite the uncertainty of whether the elections are actually called or not. With the divorce with Ciudadanos, the president of Madrid will only have Vox to agree with, and puts the state leader of the PP, Pablo Casado, in a delicate situation at a time when he was trying to turn to the center-right. Casado is, in fact, the great victim of Ayuso's turn. If the elections are held, he will have to pass a new test on his leadership, knowing that different voices of his party leaning to the right applaud the strategy of the Madrid leader.

Ayuso presented the elections as a dichotomy between "socialism and freedom". After a few minutes the spokeswoman for Vox in the Assembly of Madrid, Rocio Monasterio, picked up the gauntlet and defended the elections with the same slogan. In fact, the first to call for elections both in Madrid and Castilla y León and Andalusia to avoid votes of no confidence in cascade, once those of Murcia were announced, was the president of Vox, Santiago Abascal. After a few minutes Aguado denounced the "irresponsibility" of Ayuso.

Crisis committee in all parties

The generation of heart-stopping headlines throughout the morning led to meetings of the leaderships of all parties. The PSOE went from satisfaction to silence. If socialist sources of the Spanish government applauded the turn of Ciudadanos in Murcia in the morning and asked for replicas in the rest of the territories, at noon they were stupefied by the situation that had been generated. Ferraz called a press conference of José Luis Ábalos at 13.30 h that was postponed for hours until mid-afternoon was canceled.

Madrid has become a laboratory for the ideas of the extreme right. Ayuso's cabinet director is Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, a well-known Aznarist who landed in the Moncloa with José María Aznar in 1996 as Secretary of State for Communication. His influence had already aroused the misgivings of Ciudadanos, which blames him for the strategy of polarisation that the Madrid president has been pursuing, especially during the last year of the pandemic, in which she has brought out the dirty laundry within the coalition.

This Wednesday the PP was slow to react. Its secretary general, Teodoro García Egea, appeared in the afternoon to appeal to the voters of Ciudadanos. "Today Arrimadas has turned her back on the governments of freedom and has joined her political future to Sánchez and Iglesias", he said, and invited the "militants and leaders" of the orange party to enter the "common house of the center-right". For the PP politician, yesterday's was a "clandestine operation" of the leader of Ciudadanos, who certainly avoided making great assessments.

Hunted by journalists leaving the party headquarters in Madrid, Arrimadas simply said that they do not understand that the Spanish capital "has to pay for the corruption of the PP in Murcia". The oranges continue to play on both sides: yesterday they maintained throughout the day that the double no-confidence vote against López Miras, and also that of the city council of the capital of the region, were not intended as the beginning of a domino effect. Now the party faces a difficult scenario if elections are held. The electoral defeats in the general elections of 2019 and the Catalan elections a month ago do not bode well for a party that only two years ago was very happy with the government pact in both the Community and the City Council of Madrid. The protagonists of the latter, by the way, yesterday ruled out a rupture.

The strategy of the Moncloa

The siren calls for a no-confidence motion in Madrid were not new. The PSOE, however, was waiting for Cs to take the step of no longer supporting the PP. The first signs came with the negotiation of the state budget. ERC then accused Sánchez of weaving an operation to "save the Cs soldier". The Moncloa has never stopped thinking about variable geometry in Parliament and counting on the oranges as an ally. But yesterday Ferraz did not clarify whether the shockwave of Ayuso's bombshell in Madrid had really been calculated.

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