Anti-lockdown leader of Madrid revitalizes Spanish right

·2 min read

MADRID — A skeptic of sweeping pandemic lockdowns vowed Wednesday to use her party's victory in a regional Madrid election to remain as a “counterpower” to the left-wing coalition of Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez.

Isabel Díaz Ayuso's Popular Party nearly obtained an absolute majority in the legislative assembly of the wealthy region. The election's outcome opens a fresh chapter in Spain's volatile politics by putting conservatives back in the race to control the national government.

The win “is going to be a stimulus and a change of cycle," Díaz Ayuso told Spanish station EsRadio the day after the Popular Party won 44% of the vote in the regional election, more than the total secured by all of its centre -to-left rivals.

“We will continue here being the counterweight and the counterpower that are needed (against Sánchez)," she said.

The Popular Party won 65 of the Madrid Assembly's 136 seats on Tuesday, more than twice the number it won in the previous election two years ago. The far-right Vox party won 13 seats - one more than in 2019 - to give the right wing 20 more seats than the 58 picked up by Sánchez's Socialists, the anti-austerity United We Can party and More Madrid, an upstart party that echoes the rise of the European Greens and becomes the opposition leader.

Vox has offered support to Díaz Ayuso, whose victory reduces the need to form a coalition government.

Citizens, the centre -right liberal party that was the junior partner in the regional government until Díaz Ayuso called the snap election two months ago, collected less than 4% of the vote and lost all of its 26 Madrid Assembly seats. Citizens was once seen as a possible hinge-party to form governments with the left and the right, but it is now fighting for relevance.

Aritz Parra, The Associated Press