Ex-Madrid leader Aguirre says fuss over police chase was “out of proportion”

Incident was “nothing out of the ordinary in the life of any citizen,” says the head of regional PP

Madrid PP President Esperanza Aguirre during Tuesday's press conference.
Madrid PP President Esperanza Aguirre during Tuesday's press conference.Zipi (EFE)

Former Madrid regional premier Esperanza Aguirre on Tuesday changed tack regarding her involvement last week in a police chase that saw her flee from officers who were trying to fine her for illegally parking in a bus lane on Madrid’s Gran Vía thoroughfare.

After initially blaming the traffic officers on the scene for detaining her for too long, the president of the Madrid branch of the Popular Party sought to play down the episode, saying it was something that could have happened to anyone. “It is an incident that should be confined to my private life, and is nothing out of the ordinary in the life of any citizen,” she noted. Voices from the PP were quick to comment, however, that any ordinary citizen “would have spent the night in a police cell” were they to have done the same.

Voices from the PP commented that a citizen “would have spent the night in a police cell” had they done the same

“As soon as the incident occurred and the media repercussions began, I quickly admitted that stopping my car in a bus lane on Gran Vía had been a mistake,” she told the press on Tuesday, after a meeting of the executive committee of the Madrid PP. “What’s more, I publicly apologized. I did so repeatedly and I am using this opportunity to do so again. I made a mistake, I committed an offense, I parked where I was not allowed.”

Aguirre would not be drawn into stoking further the internal party controversy that has erupted over her actions, voicing her support with Madrid Mayor Ana Botella’s defense of the officers on the scene. “I agree completely with what Botella said: the law is the same for everyone,” she told the press. “But I also believe, as [Madrid’s first, Socialist regional premier] Joaquín Leguina said, that we are all equal before the law, but we are not equal before the media.”

We are all equal before the law, but we are not equal before the media”

Following criticism from municipal workers, the Madrid PP leader refrained from repeating her accusations that the traffic officers who fined her were “sexist,” limiting herself to saying that what occurred had been “exaggerated.”

“Everything surrounding this incident seems to have been blown out of proportion to me. First of all, because of the repercussions in the media; it seems as if there aren’t any more important problems in Spain than fining a sixtysomething woman in Gran Vía, as if the Gürtel corruption case, the Andalusia ERE case, the challenge of the independence drive [in Catalonia] and [Basque Socialist leader] Jesús Eguiguren did not exist,” Aguirre continued, without mentioning that she spoke to various television and radio stations after the incident, where she voluntarily talked about what happened.

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