Madrid, March 10 (AFP/APP):The rightwing leader of Madrid’s regional government, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, resigned Wednesday and called a snap election on May 4 in Spain’s wealthiest region after ending its ruling coalition.
The surprise move threatens to unravel other rightwing regional coalition governments in Spain.
Diaz Ayuso said she was forced to end the coalition between her Popular Party (PP) and the smaller centre-right Ciudadanos that has governed Madrid since May 2019 to prevent Ciudadanos and the Socialists, who serve in opposition in the Madrid government, from tabling a no-confidence motion.
Her announcement came just hours after Ciudadanos broke its coalition agreement with the PP in the southeastern Murcia region, chosing instead to back a no-confidence motion filed by the Socialists, who dominate Spain’s central government.
“I was forced to take this decision for the good of Madrid and Spain and against my repeated desire to complete my term in office,” she said in a televised address.
“Madrid needs a stable government, clear ideas, ambitious solutions, stability… and this is not possible in the current circumstances.”
Diaz Ayuso has made headlines for her vociferous opposition to Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government, especially her refusal to impose strict virus restrictions.
Unlike many other Spanish regions, she insisted on keeping bars and restaurants open, saying it was essential to protect the local economy, while blasting Sanchez’s measures as “authoritatian”.
The snap polls in the region of around 6.6 million people appeared aimed at shoring up the political capital she has likely earned through resisting pressure to impose tighter virus restrictions.
“I can’t allow Madrid to lose its freedom,” Diaz Ayuso said, adding the snap polls would allow residents of the region to “choose between Socialism and freedom”.
Aside from Madrid and Murcia, the PP and Ciudadanos have coalition agreements in two more of Spain’s 17 regions and in several municipalities, raising questions as to whether these alliances will survive.
Ignacio Aguado, who heads Ciudadanos in the Madrid region, called Diaz Ayuso’s move “irresponsible” at a time when the region’s hospitals are full of coronavirus patients.
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