The early regional elections in Madrid have rocked Spanish politics. The leader of the Left party Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, fully resigned from all his offices. As expected, his party – in coalition with the United Left under the name Unidas Podemos (UP) – came in last place of the parties elected to parliament. UP received 7% of votes, and now has 10 deputies – 3 more than in 2019. As on a national level, the aim was to achieve a progressive majority, and to form a coalition with the social democrats (PSOE) and the regional split from Podemos Más Madrid. This aim was not met.
In contrast, the right wing People’s Party (PP) increased its share of the vote from 22% to 44% and now has 65 delegates in the regional parliament. The background to this success is the crisis of the neoliberal party, Ciudadanos, which lost all of its 26 seats. In the regional election in Catalonia in February, Ciudadanos’ representation fell from 36 deputies to 6.
But also the PSOE lost 10 percentage points and 13 seats in parliament and now sends only 24 deputies to the chamber. It is now as Iglesias feared: the PP can govern, but only with the fascists from VOX, who now have 13 seats, one more than in 2019.
The left wing Más Madrid has 24 seats – the same number as the social democrats. Their candidate Mónica García declared, “This evening we have shown that there is space for improvement in Madrid, that there is a feminist, left, and Green Madrid that wants representation.” The popular 47-year old doctor has led her party to second place behind the PP. Más Madrid received 4,000 votes more than the PP.
For the former Podemos leader Iglesias, the fact that the Left block did not receive a majority is a personal issue. Iglesias had resigned as Vice President to stand in these elections. On the evening before the election, he declared that the right wing had made him a “scapegoat.” He said that many people were deterred because he was a candidate in the elections. The hostility and accusations of the right wing media and politics had an effect. Iglesias explained his decision by saying, “if someone is no longer useful, he must stand down.” Many critics – also from the Left – had accused him of only seeking office.
This has taken care of itself, but the Spanish Left has lost one of its most important and wise heads, who has not just made a progressive government in the country possible, but also organised a successor – the Communist who is one of the deputy presidents. Yolanda Díaz is not even a Podemos member, but her leadership quality and popularity in the left wing alliance UP is without question. Iglesias is leaving politics at 42 years old, and will probably work again as a university lecturer.
Meanwhile, the VOX candidate – the extreme right winger Rocío Monasterio has announced that the election will lead to changes on a national level. The PP candidate and election victor Isabel Díaz Ayuso assured her support. The People’s Party already rules the city of Madrid with the help of VOX.
The conservatives are fighting accusations that their Francoist history means that they have downplayed the dictatorship and stand in continuity with the fascists. At an election meeting on Saturday, the mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, declared “we may be fascists but we can govern.” This does not seem to disturb cooperation with the European People’s Party, of which the PP is a member.