PP reaches deal with Ciudadanos to hold on to power in Madrid region

Party’s support required a signed pledge by Cristina Cifuentes to stop privatizing healthcare

Cristina Cifuentes (left) at the meeting with Ciudadanos representatives.
Cristina Cifuentes (left) at the meeting with Ciudadanos representatives.Chema Moya (EFE)

The regional government of Madrid has a new leader. Cristina Cifuentes, of the Popular Party (PP), will be invested next week after reaching a deal with Ciudadanos, an emerging group that ran nationally for the first time this year at municipal and regional elections, and secured a presence in many councils and assemblies.

After two weeks of negotiations Ciudadanos, which earned 17 seats in the Madrid regional assembly, agreed to support Cifuentes – whose group won 48 seats – after imposing a list of conditions, including anti-corruption measures and a freeze on privatizing healthcare.

The new government is expected to be operative by June 29, when Cifuentes will take over from Ignacio González

“We have reached a broad agreement that encompasses all types of measures; each one has a different timeline,” said Cifuentes, who insisted that she had “not renounced” her own party’s campaign program.

“We are satisfied and will watch to make sure that [the conditions] are fulfilled during this term,” said regional Ciudadanos leader Ignacio Aguado. 

A committee will monitor the implementation of the 82 economic and social measures demanded by Ciudadanos, which will not enter into a ruling coalition with the conservatives, but is only supporting Cifuentes’ investiture with a yes vote.

Albert Rivera’s party, which ran on a message of democratic renewal across ideological lines – its support has also allowed the Socialists to hold on to power in the Andalusian assembly – wants Cifuentes to pass legislation prohibiting the privatization of key public services. Aguado has expressed an interest in reversing hospital privatization wherever possible.

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Ciudadanos also wants Cifuentes to raise the budget for public primary healthcare centers by €50 million, to increase free primary and secondary education, and to reduce college tuition fees.

Cifuentes has also agreed to limit the premier’s tenures to two terms, while Ciudadanos had to scrap its demand for party primaries, which it had initially described as a necessary condition for talks.

The new government is expected to be operative by June 29, when Cifuentes will take over from acting regional premier Ignacio González.

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