Iglesias steps down as Deputy PM to run for Madrid presidency

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Pablo Iglesias steps down as Deputy PM to run for Madrid presidency

MADRID – The repercussions continue after Madrid president Ayuso announced snap elections for 4th May. Now Deputy PM Pablo Igelsias has stood down in order to run for the Madrid presidency.

The Madrid Assembly decided not to appeal the decision of the Superior Court of Justice (TSJ) of Madrid this Sunday in favour of holding early elections on May 4, according to sources from the Assembly. The TSJ endorsed the dissolution of the Assembly and the electoral convocation decreed last Wednesday by the president of the Community, Isabel Díaz Ayuso.  

The legal, political and media mess that plagues the region began last Wednesday. Then, after hearing the motion of no confidence agreed between PSOE and Ciudadanos in Murcia to seize the government of the region from the PP, Ayuso declared the Madrid Assembly dissolved and called early elections for Tuesday May 4th.

On the same day, in an attempt to avoid the elections, PSOE and Más Madrid registered motions of no confidence in the Chamber. The Assembly – with two deputies from Ciudadanos and two from the PSOE compared to two from the PP and one from Vox – accepted the motions.

Iglesias believes Madrid needs a left-wing government

Following the political tremor across Spain, a number of aftershocks continue to be felt. The greatest is probably the resignation of Deputy PM Pablo Igelsias of the left-wing party Unidas Podemos. He is now running for the Madrid presidency.

Iglesias made the surprise announcement in a video on Monday. “Madrid needs a left government and I believe I can be useful,” Iglesias, one of four deputy prime ministers, said. “I have been meditating it a lot and we have decided that if our members want it, I will run in the Madrid elections.”

Iglesias is a key political figure in Spain since bursting onto the scene in a 2014 European election as Podemos’ candidate. The party presented themselves as the political heirs of the anti-austerity protests that swept Spain in the wake of the financial crisis.

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Iglesias nominated Employment Minister Yolanda Díaz as his replacement (with Ione Belarra taking over from Díaz at the employment ministry). Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has yet to approve those moves.

The regional government in Madrid is currently a right-leaning coalition of the People’s Party (PP) and Ciudadanos. Ayuso is facing criticism over her decision to go to the polls in the middle of the pandemic because the crisis has delayed funds being allocated by the regional government to help struggling businesses.

Ayuso feels vindicated by her decision

Pablo Iglesias’s move has given Isabel Díaz Ayuso more powder for her explosive electoral approach in Madrid. Last week she intoned Donald Trump’s “socialism or freedom”, now it is “communism or freedom”.

Ayuso, the PP candidate, hinted that Podemos’s leader could overshadow the 2019 elections winner, the socialist Ángel Gabilondo. However, “all those who do not want communism to enter the Community of Madrid will unite around a candidacy that represents the opposite,” she said.

Ayuso sees Iglesias’s move as a victory, saying: “Spain owes me one: we have forced Iglesias out of the Moncloa”. She criticised the Podemos leader for “believing in expropriation and squatting” and acting “against the interests of the Spanish”.

Working on two fronts

The president of the Community of Madrid is already working on her electoral scenario. She also assures the electorate that she has two jobs: on the one hand, to keep the Madrid government working at full capacity after dismissing all the Ciudadanos ministers and not appointing any new ones; on the other, to prepare for the elections.

Ayuso will exploit the lax covid restrictions in place in Madrid as part of her campaign to retain the Madrid presidency. She believes she has the full support of the hospitality sector, who are benefiting as a result.  She is supported by PP leader, Pablo Casado, who warned the PP “will respond” to Pablo Iglesias’s “communist” project Madrid with “civil concord and lowering taxes”.

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