Madrid, Apr 18 (EFE).- Political parties vying for power in Madrid’s regional parliament launched their campaigns on Sunday, 15 days ahead of a snap vote taking place amid rising Covid-19 cases and deep political polarization.
The region of Madrid, the richest in Spain and the third-most populous with 6.6 million people, has been a stronghold of the conservative Popular Party since 1995.
The incumbent regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso called the snap elections in a political gamble aimed at consolidating the PP’s power in the chamber.
The Socialist Party (PSOE) of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez took the largest share of the vote in the last election in 2019, but Ayuso was able to cobble together a coalition with the centre-right Ciudadanos party and the support of emergent far-right Vox.
Ayuso broke the coalition with Ciudadanos after the party collaborated with the PSOE in a bid to oust the PP in the region of Murcia earlier this year.
Facing off with Ayuso are three parties.
The PSOE fielded Ángel Gabilondo, who has run in every Madrid election since 2015, left-wing Unidas Podemos, which is relying on its leader Pablo Iglesias, who left his post as deputy prime minister to run against Ayuso, and Más Madrid, another left-wing outfit that splintered from UP, which chose Mónica García, a doctor who worked in ICU during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ayuso, who has routinely opposed Covid recommendations from the central government, has billed the election as a choice between “freedom and communism.”
Under her leadership, Madrid has had some of the least strict Covid measures in all of Europe but also some of the highest infection rates in Spain.
The current seven-day incidence rate in Madrid stands at 190.36 per 100,000 people, above the national average of 107.9, according to health ministry data.
Recent polling suggests that the PP will emerge with the largest share of seats in the chamber, estimated between 56 and 60, meaning it would fall short of an absolute majority (69) and would therefore have to rely on Vox to get over the line.
A recent survey in El Mundo, a national daily newspaper, said the left-wing parties will also fall short of a majority with the PSOE taking an estimated 31 seats, Más Madrid between 20-21 and UP between 11 and 12. EFE