Madrid spurns the Left and rewards anti-lockdown Right

by Edward Anderson

It was not just the UK that had elections last week. The region of Madrid also went to the polls and delivered a decisive victory for the Ayuso-led Popular Party, with an extraordinary result that had the Popular Party first in every constituency in the City of Madrid. So let’s have a quick look at who the winners (and losers) of the Madrid Regional Election were.

Winner: Ayuso

This was a huge personal mandate for Isabel Díaz Ayuso and a stunning turnaround from 2019 where Ayuso led PP to its worst ever Madrid Assembly result of just 30 seats. The PP campaign was a personal one, with her face beaming from every poster. Ayuso’s clear policy of holding the most liberal curfew policy in Spain, in defiance of the PSOE led national government (and other PP led regions it should be noted), has been rewarded with 65 seats and with more seats than all the left-wing parties combined, she does not need Vox either.

Loser: Casado

How does a PP triumph not help its national leader? Because his underperformance now contrasts starkly with the beaming face of Ayuso and her huge vote. Judging by Casado’s almost bear-like hugging of Ayuso at the election night win, he is aware of this and attempting to have some of Ayuso’s success rub off on him. It seems to have worked, with the traditional post-election bounce for the Popular Party in the national polls (such is the undue influence of Madrid) but if the economy does recover, PSOE is likely to pull back ahead before the national election. Although Ayuso has said she has no intention of a higher position, she must know this is as good as it will get for PP in Madrid and will either have to move on or move up. Casado is in the hot-seat.

Winner: Mas Madrid

A good if not great result for Mas Madrid and Mónica García, whose real significance is overtaking PSOE as the largest left-wing party in the region and thus giving them the chance to raise their profile. Since forming in 2019, the national party (Mas Pais) is in reality a purely localist outfit which causes problems. However, with the issue of lockdown soon in the past and with the election issues at the next regional election more likely to be on fertile ground (cost of living, rent) for Mónica García, Mas Madrid might fancy their chances of pulling off something quite special next time around.

Loser: The Left

Now although there is a lot of talk of red wall in Madrid falling (which ignores the fact that Madrid elections are not first past the post and the Left still holds a majority in many places that used to be held solely by PSOE), there is still a huge problem. Namely, the fractured vote. Now of course PSOE’s miserable campaign has much to blame for this (their lowest ever vote share and seats at an Assembly election) but as mentioned, Mas Madrid’s emergence now means there are three ‘left wing’ parties in Madrid. Meanwhile, there are no wasted votes on the right now Ayuso has engulfed the liberal Cuidadanos with virtually all their votes returning to PP (Cuidadanos received just 3.6 per cent of the vote and therefore lost all their seats due to the 5 per cent threshold).

If Mas Madrid were to rise at a national level this is likely to be a disaster for the the Left as they will be leaking wasted votes all over the place, between not only PSOE, Mas Pais and Podemos but also nationalist left-wing parties in Catalonia, the Basque Country and now, Galicia. If the electorate seeks a stable government, this is likely to end badly for the Left. Luckily for PSOE, the annihilation of Cuidadanos is already complete at a national level but the next cycle of regional elections will further increase the resources and representation of PP.

We are still several years away from a national election but already the Madrid election has claimed the career of now ex-Podemos Leader Pablo Iglesias. In the space of a decade, we have seen the rise and fall of Cuidadanos, which is now firmly reintegrated within PP. Despite the attempts of many capital-centric journalists to assume Madrid is Spain, this is not a disaster for PSOE nationally but it is a warning shot. Two years ago, Ayuso led PP to their worst every result and now she is the undisputed Queen of Madrid. If nothing else, at least PSOE can see that a lot can change in two years.

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