Outgoing leader of the radical left-wing coalition party Podemos Pablo Iglesias and People’s Winner of the Madrid regional elections Isabel Diaz Ayus. PHOTO: SITA / AP
They were born on the same day, October 17, 1978, less than three years after the death of dictator Franco. The grandchildren of the Civil War, as their generation is called in Spain, met on opposite sides of the barricade in the new battle for Madrid. For the radical leftist Pablo Iglesias, until recently the deputy prime minister, the elections in the metropolitan region were a point behind his rocketing political career. Right-wing Isabel Díaz Ayus, the current head of the regional government, who led the People’s Party to a convincing victory, is, on the contrary, on the launch pad into big politics, and some commentators predict that she will one day become Spain’s first prime minister.
In Tuesday’s election in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, the People’s Party more than doubled their representation in the regional parliament. However, they will not have an absolute majority in it and will probably rule with the support of the far-right Vox party.
It was precisely against the cooperation of the right with the far right that Iglesias warned when, seven weeks ago, he unexpectedly resigned as Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, only to be able to run in the Madrid elections. He went into battle with the slogan “Democracy or Fascism” and in the pre-election speeches he also dusted off the slogan of the Republican defenders of Madrid from the time of the Francoist siege “No Pasarán!” (They won’t pass).
The icon is leaving
The right finally passed, unexpectedly smooth. The charismatic el Coletas (Horse’s Tail), as the long-haired Iglesias nicknamed for his typical hairstyle, immediately drew consequences from the defeat. “We have failed. We are very far from putting together a sufficient majority, “he said after AFP said it was clear that his Podemos would not be able to seize power in the Madrid region with the Socialists of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and the other left. “When you’re no longer useful, you need to know when to withdraw,” he explained his decision to leave politics.
An educated lawyer and political scientist burst into the political scene at a time when Spain was struggling with the effects of the global economic crisis. He became an icon of the Indignados movement, which occupied squares across the country ten years ago to protest austerity and corruption. On its foundations, in 2014 he founded the radically left-wing party Podemos.
A year later, the party, whose name means “We can” in translation, took care of a huge surprise when it finished in third place in the election. In the next election, she repeated the success, thus disrupting the traditional hegemony of the Socialists and the People’s Party, two large parties whose monochromatic governments have been in power since the end of the Franco regime. Last year, Podemos agreed with the Socialists to form the first coalition government in the history of post-Frankish Spain, and the former People’s Tribune, which is not tied in principle, became Deputy Prime Minister.
Freedom to go for a beer
The People’s Party leader Pablo Casado, increasingly overshadowed by the talented politician Ayus, called the elections in the Madrid region a vote of no confidence in Sánchez’s government and the beginning of a new era in Spanish politics. Socialists, on the other hand, warn that flirting Ayus with Vox’s “funerals” could have dramatic consequences. “It is a challenge to the rules of conduct in the EU that extreme right-wing extremists need to be isolated,” Socialist MEP Juan Fernando López Aguilar quoted Politico MEP as saying. “The inclination of Ayus’ People’s wing towards Vox may seem like a profit in the short term, but it will soon prove to be self-harming for Madrid, Spanish policy and the EU as a whole,” he warned.
Pablo Simón, a political scientist at the University of Carlos III of Madrid, attributes two factors to Ayus’s success. “First, she has established herself as a more credible opposition figure to the central government than the People’s Leader Casado. Second, she has been able to tune in to the general feeling that people are tired of the pandemic and want normalcy and freedom,” Simón told the Guardian.
Ayus attacked the Sánches government and its restrictive measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease, which it also attacked in court last year. The key word of her campaign has become the word freedom, and, as she explained, she also imagines under freedom that the people of Madrid can go for a beer after work. Although the Madrid region is one of the worst affected during the pandemic, Ayus decided to open bars and restaurants as soon as the nationwide lockdown ended and anti-epidemic powers passed into the hands of local governments.
The outgoing leader of Podemos warned that for the irresponsible populism of the new star of the People’s Party, the Spaniards will have to pay a price comparable to that left to the Americans by their previous president. “The impressive electoral success of the trumpet right, represented by Ayus, is a tragedy for health, education and public services,” Iglesiasa quoted El País as saying.
Source: Pravda.sk – Správy by spravy.pravda.sk.
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