WORLD / EUROPE
Campaigning commences for Madrid’s regional election on May 4
Published: Apr 18, 2021 06:43 PM
Alcala Gate is decorated with festive lights in Madrid, capital of Spain, Nov. 28, 2020. The festive lights for Christmas were displayed from Nov. 26, 2020 and will last till Jan. 6, 2021. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)

Alcala Gate is decorated with festive lights in Madrid, capital of Spain, Nov. 28, 2020. The festive lights for Christmas were displayed from Nov. 26, 2020 and will last till Jan. 6, 2021. (Xinhua/Meng Dingbo)


With virus cases rising and its vaccination drive delayed, Madrid headed into an election campaign on Sunday ahead of a vote likely to cement the right-wing's hold on Spain's wealthiest region. 

If the latest polls are correct, the May 4 vote looks set to hand victory to the region's right-wing leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso, whose Popular Party (PP) could end up governing with the support of the far-right Vox. 

The vote could have important ramifications for Spain's broader political scene, and particularly for the political future of some of the leaders involved, although analysts say it's unlikely to have an immediate impact on the left-wing coalition of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. 

Sunday marks the start of a two-week election campaign which ends on May 2, two days before the snap election which was called on March 10 by ­Ayuso after she abruptly broke off her coalition agreement with the center-right ­Ciudadanos party.

At stake is the "jewel in the crown" - leadership of Spain's richest region, with a population of 6.6 million, but which has suffered the most deaths and infections since the coronavirus epidemic began in March 2020. 

Six parties are contesting the vote: the PP, the ­Socialists and the far-left Podemos - partners in Spain's minority ruling ­coalition - Ciudadanos, Vox and the hard-left Mas ­Madrid, with surveys consistently ­putting Ayuso in front. 

Most polls suggest the 42-year-old will secure around 40 percent of the vote and a comfortable win, with a survey published Friday giving her 56-57 deputies in the 136-seat regional assembly, while falling short of the 69 needed for an absolute majority.

With Ciudadanos not assured of reaching this critical five percent threshold, the PP's natural bedfellow would be Vox, which was seen securing 13-14 seats, with a tie-up likely securing them a majority.

The vote comes at a tricky time for Ayuso as infections keep rising in Madrid, which has a 14-day incidence rate of some 350 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, compared with a national average around 200, and accounts for 20 percent of Spain's 76,900 deaths.
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