POLITICS

After admitting defeat, Madrid mayor may try to retain office after all

The former judge hopes to remain in her role as Vox threatens to let the left govern if Ciudadanos refuses to negotiate with the far-right party

Pepu Hernández (l) and Manuela Carmena (center).
Pepu Hernández (l) and Manuela Carmena (center).Carlos Pérez (EFE)

The acting mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, announced on Wednesday that she will try to retain her position despite losing to the right-wing bloc at the local election held on May 26.

Carmena’s party Más Madrid won the highest percentage of the vote at the poll, winning 30.94% of support, but collectively the right-wing Popular Party (PP), center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) and far-right Vox have more councilors and could join forces to govern Madrid.

Manuela Carmena, acting mayor

At her first public appearance since election night, Carmena said that while she has “not yet” made deals with other parties, she would try to get appointed mayor at the investiture session planned for June 15.

“At the moment, we are in a situation in which we have not yet made the deals that would allow me, or not, to continue as mayor,” said Carmena during an event to place a commemorative plaque to Spanish painter Eduardo Arroyo.

The former judge added that her party won the most votes, and said that if no alternative alliance could outmatch her result, she would continue as mayor. Carmena refused to answer questions about whether she had spoken with other parties. At the local election, Más Madrid and the Socialist Party (PSOE) together won 26 seats on the city council, while the PP, Ciudadanos and Vox won a collective 30.

After the election results were announced, Carmena said she would not negotiate with Ciudadanos, but her tone has since softened. This comes as Ciudadanos has begun to doubt the benefit of making a deal with the PP and with the far right. Ciudadanos’ candidate for Madrid, Begoña Villacís, said the party was open to speaking with the PSOE but that the PP was their natural ally. She added that Ciudadanos was not willing to negotiate with Vox.

Angry Vox

This decision has angered Vox leader Santiago Abascal, who threatened on Wednesday to let the left govern if Ciudadanos does not agree to negotiate with the far-right party. “Without Vox, there is no possible alternative to the left. It will not be difficult to reach an agreement with those who sit down to talk with us, but it will be absolutely impossible to support a government of those who have not even sat down to negotiate with us,” said Abascal at a press conference.

The support of Vox is key in several regions and cities. The far-right party is willing to negotiate solely with the PP in cases where the PP will lead a minority government, but it is demanding to negotiate with both the PP and Ciudadanos, if Ciudadanos is to form part of a coalition government. In other words, Abascal does not want to repeat the situation at last year’s regional election in Andalusia, where it supported a Ciudadanos-PP government, even though Ciudadanos refused to talk to Vox.

At the press conference on Wednesday, Abascal said that it was a question of honor and maintained that he would not allow “Vox voters to be humiliated and put down.” If this threat is upheld, Carmena could continue to be the mayor of Madrid and the PSOE candidate Ángel Gabilondo could become the premier of Madrid region.

Alternatively, a deal between Ciudadanos, PSOE and Más Madrid could also lead to a PSOE premier in the regional government (Ángel Gabilondo) and a Ciudadanos mayor, Begoña Villacís.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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