PP agrees deal with Ciudadanos to smooth path to Madrid premiership

Cristina Cifuentes’ conservatives grant emerging party seat on top parliamentary body

José Marcos
New Madrid regional assembly speaker María Paloma Adrados.
New Madrid regional assembly speaker María Paloma Adrados.P. Campos (EFE)

The Madrid regional government began its 10th legislature on Tuesday with two new parties – Podemos and Ciudadanos – represented and the conservative Popular Party without an absolute majority in the assembly for the first time in 20 years.

If PP candidate Cristina Cifuentes finally does get to become regional premier, after reportedly reaching a deal with Ciudadanos on Monday, she will have to govern by seeking out alliances with other parties in a scenario very different from the one her group has been used to in previous years.

In order to bring Cifuentes closer to the premiership, the PP on Monday agreed to hand Ciudadanos the vice-speaker’s seat on the regional parliamentary assembly, the top internal body, where it had not been entitled to a place in its own right.

It’s not that the agreement is in its early stages, it’s that we have barely started to talk” PP Madrid regional premier candidate Cristinas Cifuentes

The PSOE and Podemos have interpreted the move as a prior step towards Cifuentes’ investiture, but the PP candidate insisted that the negotiations had only just begun. “It’s not that the agreement is in its early stages, it’s that we have barely started to talk. Yesterday’s meeting was basically about finalizing the make-up of the parliamentary assembly,” Cifuentes said.

The PP candidate, who won 48 assembly seats in the May 24 regional elections, needs the support of the 17 regional deputies won by Ciudadanos to be elected.

The result of Monday’s negotiations turned out to be much more fruitful for Cifuentes and her advisors than they had been expecting after Ciudadanos had threatened not to sit down with them at all if two PP regional deputies caught up in a bribes-for-contracts scandal known as the Púnica case did not step down.

More information
Two top PP officials resign to help party reach regional investiture deal
Growing graft probe hampers PP’s bid for power in key Madrid region
No primaries, no support, Ciudadanos warns the Popular Party

But the resignation of Lucía Figar, head of the regional education department, and Salvador Victoria, in charge of justice and internal affairs, two days after they were named official targets of the Púnica investigation was highly valued by Ciudadanos leader, Albert Rivera. “The PP has saved its first match point,” said Ciudadanos Madrid spokesman Pedro Núñez Morgades on Thursday.

The two parties have agreed a schedule of twice-weekly meetings, on Wednesdays and Fridays, in order to continue negotiations relating to Cifuentes’ investiture. Ciudadanos nevertheless remains concerned that further corruption scandals affecting the party that won the elections may emerge.

Both Ciudadanos’ national leader Rivera and regional candidate Aguado have spared Cifuentes from their criticism, and underlined that the head of the PP’s Madrid branch, Esperanza Aguirre, was the key person responsible for drawing up the group’s list of election candidates.

As well as Ciudadanos’ Juan Trinidad, the rest of the seven-member parliamentary assembly will be made up of three PP deputies, two Socialists and one Podemos representative.

Ciudadanos remains concerned that further corruption scandals affecting the PP may emerge

Cifuentes has chosen three of her most-trusted female aides to represent the PP on the assembly, which will be headed by new regional parliament speaker María Paloma Adrados, who until now was mayor of the Madrid satellite town of Pozuelo de Alarcón and is said to be a “very close” friend of the PP candidate.

Rosalía Gonzalo, who was Cifuentes’ Cabinet chief during her three years at the head of Madrid’s government delegation, will be the committee’s first secretary, while María Cristina Álvarez, a journalist and managing director of the Madrid Rural, Agricultural and Food Institute (IMIDRA), will be third secretary.

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS