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Right-wing parties pick Madrid speaker, paving way for new premier, mayor

Negotiations between far-right Vox and Ciudadanos have been tense, but deals with the Popular Party over the new leaders in the region and City Hall could now be a step closer

vox pactos madrid
Vox’s candidate for Madrid premier, Rocío Monasterio, speaking to reporters last week in the regional assembly.

Three right-wing political parties on Tuesday reached a deal to choose the new speaker in the Madrid regional government, a move that could pave the way for not only a new premier to be voted in, but also the mayor in Madrid City Hall. The conservative Popular Party (PP), center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) and far-right Vox have lent their support to Juan Trinidad, of Ciudadanos, as the person who will preside the regional assembly in the upcoming legislature.

An inconclusive general election on April 28 saw the Socialist Party (PSOE) win most votes, but fall short of a majority in Congress, Spain’s lower house of parliament. A “Super Sunday” of European, regional and municipal elections on May 26 left an equally uncertain scenario, with the PSOE, PP, Citizens, left-wing Podemos and Vox now engaged in discussions over the formation of governments – national, regional and local – all over Spain.

The national committee of Ciudadanos voted that it would not share an executive with Vox in any government

In the Madrid regional assembly, the PSOE won most votes, but with 37 seats fell well short of a majority of 67. The most likely outcome is a government formed with the votes of the PP (30 seats), Ciudadanos (26) and Vox (12). The PP has been in power in the regional assembly uninterruptedly since 1995.

But so far the negotiations between these three right-wing parties have been tense.

Tuesday’s parliamentary session in the Madrid regional assembly began without any official announcement of a deal over the choice of speaker. But in the end the complex arithmetic forced the parties’ hands, given that Ciudadanos was going to be unable to secure the role of speaker without votes from Vox, nor was Vox going to be able to get a place on the speaker’s committee – the body that oversees the regional assembly – without the support of Ciudadanos.

Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the Popular Party candidate for Madrid premier.
Isabel Diaz Ayuso, the Popular Party candidate for Madrid premier. GTRES

Meanwhile, Vox claims to have reached a bilateral deal with the PP to support the investiture of its candidate, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, as the regional premier. It says that the agreement would include a place for Vox within the executive. That was according to Vox’s candidate for Madrid premier, Rocío Monasterio, who on Tuesday gave Ciudadanos 15 days to sign up to the deal. The PP is yet to offer its version of that pre-agreement. The new regional premier is due to be voted in on July 11 – failure to do so would eventually lead to fresh elections.

Negotiations between the three right-wing parties have been complicated by the fact that the national leader of Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, has been unwilling for his group to sit down and negotiate directly with far-right Vox, led by Santiago Abascal. What’s more, the national committee of Ciudadanos voted on June 3 that it would not share an executive with Vox in any government.

The Andalusia deal

The PP, Ciudadanos and Vox managed to do a deal after the inconclusive December regional elections in Andalusia, whereby the latter two parties lent their support to the formation of a PP-led government, thus ending 36 years of uninterrupted PSOE government. But Rivera has been unwilling to commit to a similar arrangement in the wake of the recent polls, opting instead for a bespoke approach, while at the same time Vox has been demanding a place at the table and three-way talks.

In the end, there was no such three-way meeting ahead of Tuesday’s vote on Madrid regional speaker, but representatives from Vox and Ciudadanos did meet on Tuesday morning. Only the possibility of the PSOE ending up in control of the speaker’s committee managed to convince the groups to do a deal between the right-wing bloc.

Now that the speaker and speaker’s committee have been decided in the Madrid regional parliament, this should pave the way for the three right-wing parties to reach a deal in Madrid City Hall. The incumbent mayor, Manuela Carmena of left-wing Más Madrid, won most votes at the May 26 polls, but again fell short of a majority. The PP, Ciudadanos and Vox could once again join forces to vote in a new mayor, something that is due to happen this Saturday. The main sticking point between the three groups in this case is just who that should be – Ciudadanos is pushing for its own candidate, Begoña Villacís.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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