Anti-lockdown leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso wins Madrid’s snap election

Isabel Diaz Ayuso
Isabel Diaz Ayuso Madrid, Spain

Madrid residents on Tuesday handed a resounding victory to the region’s hardline leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso who has soared in prominence for stubbornly resisting virus restrictions.

With nearly all the votes counted, the results showed a solid win for Ayuso, a rising star in the right-wing Popular Party (PP), who won almost 45 percent of the votes, handing a stinging defeat to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists.

“Today begins a new chapter in the history of Spain,” a teary-eyed Ayuso declared in her victory speech, her words echoing that of PP chief Pablo Casado who declared the result to be “a turning point for national politics”.

With 95 percent of the votes counted, Ayuso more than doubled her party’s showing in the 2019 ballot, winning 65 of the regional parliament’s 136 seats, while the Socialists shed 13 seats to secure just 24.

Falling shy of an absolute majority of 69 seats, the 42-year-old will be forced to seek support to rule from the far-right Vox which secured 13 seats — an option she has said “wouldn’t be the end of the world”.

With the left facing with a major defeat, Pablo Iglesias, head of the far-left Podemos, junior partner in Spain’s ruling coalition, announced he was stepping down from politics.

“We have failed, we have been very far from putting together a sufficient majority,” he said, just seven weeks after standing down as deputy prime minister to run as his party’s candidate in a risky gamble he ultimately lost.

“When you are no longer useful, you need to know when to withdraw,” he admitted.

Although the party secured more votes than last time, with just 10 seats it will remain a minor player in the regional parliament while its hard-left rival Mas Madrid secured 24.

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