Manuela Carmena took 31.8% of the vote in the mayoral race in Madrid on Sunday. With 20 council seats, the Ahora Madrid candidate could end up becoming mayor if she manages to secure the support of Socialist Party (PSOE) candidate Antonio Miguel Carmona, who won 15.3% of the vote and nine council seats.
If that happens, Ahora Madrid will wrest power away from the Popular Party (PP), which has been in office in the Spanish capital for 24 years. Their candidate, veteran PP figure Esperanza Aguirre, took the most votes on Sunday (35.5%), winning 21 seats. But not even with a theoretical pact with emerging party Ciudadanos (11.4%) would she secure the absolute majority needed to take office as mayor (29 seats).
Ahora Madrid was born out of the popular protest movement that first appeared in Spain in 2011, when a spontaneous demonstration – which became known as 15-M, due to the May 15 date it began – spawned a grassroots movement that would inspire new parties and organizations, such as Podemos. That anti-austerity, anti-corruption party forms part of Ahora Madrid, whose election promises run along similar lines.
Ahora Madrid has promised to audit the city’s public debt and raise taxes on big companies
Before Sunday’s vote, Ahora Madrid promised in its manifesto to audit the city’s public debt, revise municipal contracts (with the aim of taking street-cleaning and garbage collection services out of private hands), put a halt to major works projects in the city, raise taxes on big companies, and force the Catholic Church to start paying property taxes. They also pledged to convert municipal schools into public, free places of learning, to lower the price of public transport and change street names connected to the Franco dictatorship.
The same day that Carmena was elected candidate for Ahora Madrid, the group also presented five measures that had been voted on by citizen groups as part of the creation of their party manifesto. The party promised then to “implement them in the first 100 days of the municipal government,” which would mean – should Carmena become mayor – that they would be in place by September.
These five points are:
1. Use all municipal means and resources to stop evictions from primary residences and guarantee alternative accommodation for the evicted.
2. Stop the privatization of public services, the outsourcing of municipal services to large companies and the sale of public heritage sites.
3. Guarantee basic utilities (electricity and water) to all households that cannot afford them.
4. Guarantee access to municipal healthcare services and promote healthy policies for all citizens, regardless of their situation.
5. Develop an urgent plan to get young people and the long-term unemployed into work.