Madrid: what does Ayuso's victory mean for Spain?

Europe's press is abuzz after the clear victory of Isabel Díaz Ayuso (PP) in Madrid's regional election. The incumbent regional president scored key points in the election campaign with her opposition to Spain's Covid lockdown policy and belongs to the right wing of her party which would be willing to enter a coalition with the far-right Vox.

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Jornal de Notícias (PT) /

A threat to democracy

Jornal de Notícias is concerned:

“This populist and nationalist right with its nostalgia for Franco, the ultra-liberals, the enemies of the Spanish nations (and the Catalans and Basques in particular), the supporters of bullfighting and ultra-Catholicism, are gaining weight with every election. The next step will be to bring their racist and sexist agenda into a national government, always led by the PP. Perhaps it won't come to fascism (or communism), but there is a threat to democracy.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Normalisation of the political landscape

Le Figaro, on the other hand, sees PP leader Pablo Casado winning back the party's traditional voters:

“The centrist Ciudadanos party has collapsed, and the right-wing populist Vox has been stopped in its tracks. Casado is convinced that Vox voters will support him in the general election against Pedro Sánchez. A few months ago he managed to disassociate himself from a vote of no confidence initiated by Vox aimed at bringing down the Socialist government. The centre-right voters who previously voted for Ciudadanos appreciate this and have returned to the PP. This election thus signals a normalisation of the Spanish political landscape.”

Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

The discourse remains poisoned

Amid all the jubilation Spain's conservatives should not forget the price Ayuso paid for this victory, warns the Madrid correspondent of the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Karin Janker:

“They have moved so far to the right in the capital region that cooperation with Vox's right-wing extremists seems only logical. In the election campaign it was considered almost disreputable to occupy any position between the poles 'communism or freedom'. One extreme gives birth to the other. The art of exaggeration might have been useful for the election campaign. But now it's time to suck the poison out of the discourse. But there is little to suggest that Ayuso will do this. She wants to become prime minister, and she still has a long way to go.”

ABC (ES) /

Make the most of the Ayuso effect

ABC hopes that the PP will be able to repeat its success in Madrid at the national level:

“Madrid is not an exception in Spain but proof that Díaz Ayuso has put together a solid and enthusiastic government that is above all capable of presenting itself as a realistic alternative to Sanchism. This has to be the priority for Spain, because with Pedro Sánchez in the Moncloa Palace the political, institutional, economic and social crisis has grown to an intolerable level. ... Now the 'Ayuso effect' must spread across the rest of Spain.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

The left is the big loser

The big surprise of these elections isn't the good performance of the right but the poor performance of the left, Jutarnji list writes:

“The biggest loser of this election is Pablo Iglesias Turrión, the previous leader of Unidos Podemos (UP), the left-wing alliance that emerged from the protests (Indignados) against the PP government's actions during the global financial crisis. Iglesias was a fresh face on the political scene and people had high hopes for him. ... But the disputes on the left had serious consequences, as they alienated a large part of its electorate who realised that Iglesias was just another politician who wanted to cling to power, at least in the party he had founded.” (ES) /

Beer more important than the economy and health

Ayuso's polemic criticism of the pandemic restrictions imposed by the central government has paid off for her,'s editor-in-chief Ignacio Escolar comments:

“The freedom to go out and have a beer has won in Madrid. ... Ayuso's pandemic strategy hasn't worked out for the economy - neither the region's unemployment figures nor its GDP are particularly good. And nor has it excelled in the area of public health: Madrid is the Spanish region with the highest increase in the mortality rate. But the strategy was undoubtedly decisive for the sweeping victory this Tuesday. A victory she owes in large part to the decision to keep bars and restaurants open against all warnings, including those of other PP regional governments.”

El País (ES) /

Spain is not Madrid

El País hopes that the PP doesn't now shift to the right at the national level:

“The success of Ayuso's ultra-liberal and demagogic positions, the stabilisation of Vox and the Ciudadanos' fading relevance are clearly shifting the conservative party bloc's centre of gravity towards the right. But the PP party leadership would do well to consider that although Madrid politics influences Spain, Spain is not Madrid. Hopefully, the party's national strategy won't follow Madrid's example but stick to the path of the venerable role models within the European Christian Democratic family.”