SPAIN’S RIGHT-WING POPULAR Party won a victory in Madrid’s regional elections today, defeating Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialists, partial results show.
With more than 50% of the votes counted, the party, led by Isabel Diaz Ayuso, more than doubled the PP’s showing in the 2019 ballot, winning 64 of the regional parliament’s 136 seats, while the Socialists shed 12 seats to secure just 25.
“Today is a turning point for national politics,” said Popular Party chief Pablo Casado, hailing Ayuso as “the leader that Madrid deserves”.
At the helm of Spain’s richest region for less than two years, Ayuso, 42, has been one of the leading critics of Sanchez’s leftist government and its handling of the pandemic.
An outspoken hardliner, she has won widespread support for resisting government pressure to impose tighter restrictions on the local economy.
Madrid is the only major European capital that has kept bars, restaurants and theatres open since the national lockdown ended in June 2020.
Although Madrid has suffered Spain’s highest numbers of infections and deaths, Ayuso has consistently defied calls to shut bars and restaurants.
“Having beers is important,” she said last month. “After a bad day, a beer cheers you up.”
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But critics say her lax restrictions have ultimately cost lives in a region where almost 15,000 people have died, accounting for one in five of Spain’s 78,000 coronavirus death toll.
Over 5.1 million people were eligible to vote in the election.