Spanish deputy PM Pablo Iglesias steps down to launch Madrid election bid

Madrid, Mar 15 (efe-epa).- The leader of Spain’s left-wing Unidas Podemos party Pablo Iglesias on Monday announced he would leave his post as a deputy prime minister in the coalition government to run against the conservatives in Madrid’s regional elections.

It was the latest twist in a dramatic week for Spanish politics triggered by a falling out between the conservative Popular Party and the center-right Ciudadanos, who govern hand-in-hand in a number of Spanish regions, including the capital.

Madrid’s incumbent president Isabel Díaz Ayuso, of the PP, on Wednesday called snap elections for 4 May in what she said was a pre-emptive move to avoid a no-confidence motion. She took the decision just hours after Ciudadanos broke from its coalition with the PP in Murcia, southeast Spain, to back a no-confidence motion presented by the Socialist Party (PSOE).

“As a Madrilenian and an anti-fascist, on 4 May we have to remove Ayuso,” Iglesias said in an eight-minute video announcing his candidacy on Monday.

He called on Más Madrid, a left-wing party that split from Podemos, to present a united candidacy against Ayuso’s government.

Ayuso, one of the most prominent politicians on the Spanish right, has billed the elections as a choice between “socialism or liberty.”

Podemos was founded in 2016 in the wake of mass anti-austerity protests. Its emergence foreshadowed the eventual splintering of Spain’s political landscape, which had been dominated by the conservative PP and the center-left PSOE for decades.

The left-wing party now has a minority share in the national government coalition led by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez of the PSOE.

In the last Madrid elections, held in May 2019, Podemos slumped to become the smallest party in the regional chamber, behind far-right new-comers Vox, Más Madrid, Ciudadanos, the PP and the PSOE. EFE-EPA


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