Esperanza Aguirre, a veteran figure of Madrid politics, made it clear on Tuesday that she was willing to run for city mayor if her party leaders support her.
The 62-year-old politician, who was regional premier from 2003 to 2012 and heads the Madrid branch of the Popular Party (PP), said she believed her offer “may be of some use.”
“If those tasked with deciding think I could be an asset for the PP in any position they may find useful, I am naturally at their disposal,” she said, in a reference to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who has the last word on who gets to head the run for local elections next year.
Surveys show Aguirre to be the most popular politician among Popular Party voters
So far, only current Madrid regional premier Ignacio González, once Aguirre’s aide, has expressed a desire to run. The Spanish capital’s current mayor, Ana Botella, got the post when her predecessor Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón left to become justice minister in December 2011, and she has made it clear she will not seek to return to office.
Aguirre, a charismatic and outspoken figure, said the main thing was to ensure that the PP “finds the right people who will best defend the party’s principles and values.”
Rajoy will have to make a decision in the coming weeks, knowing that surveys show Aguirre to be the most popular politician among PP voters despite her penchant for public controversy.
It will be difficult for the prime minister to say no to one of the few high-profile conservatives who remain untainted by corruption scandals of the kind that have embroiled people such as former IMF chief Rodrigo Rato; ex-Balearics regional premier Jaume Matas; and even himself, when news reports claimed that he accepted cash-filled envelopes as under-the-table bonuses.
While the PP has yet to announce the name of its top candidate to the mayor's office, all other major parties have already done so: the Socialists are supporting Antonio Miguel Carmona, United Left backs Mauricio Valiente, and David Ortega is running for Union, Progress & Democracy (UPyD).
In September 2012, Aguirre announced that she was resigning her position as regional premier due to a severe illness, and that she would be spending time with her family. However, she never renounced her job as head of the Madrid PP, and returned to her civil servant post. She later worked for a headhunter.
Now, Aguirre seems ready for a full-fledged return to politics, though it remains to be seen whether Rajoy will accept her offer.