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Madrid mayor decries partying Spaniards as Covid lockdown ends | Coronavirus From “World news | The Guardian”



The mayor of Madrid has appealed for people to behave responsibly after thousands of people greeted the end of Spain’s six-month state of emergency by taking to the streets of towns and cities across the country in spontaneous celebration.At the end of October last year, the socialist-led coalition government of the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, declared a state of emergency that included a nationwide overnight curfew, restrictions on travelling between regions and a ban on gatherings of more than six people.As the clock struck midnight on Saturday and the state of emergency ended, fireworks were let off in Madrid and people congregated in Puerta del Sol, the central square where revellers traditionally gather to see in the new year. There were similar impromptu celebrations in Barcelona and elsewhere.The mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, called for people to remember the rules after scenes of drinking, jubilation and often maskless celebrations spread across the internet.“Freedom doesn’t involve having drinking parties in the street because those drinking parties aren’t allowed in the city of Madrid,” he said on Sunday. “Each one of us needs to understand that we live in a society … and that a street-drinking party in Madrid isn’t freedom.”Alleyways in the Born district of Barcelona were packed with revellers late on Saturday night. Photograph: Nacho Doce/ReutersSpain is battling a fourth wave of the pandemic, which has so far infected 3,567,408 people and claimed almost 79,000 lives. However, the vaccination effort is picking up speed. To date, more than 13.2 million people of Spain’s 47 million population have received a shot, and almost 6 million have had both doses of vaccine.The central government has decided against extending the emergency powers, instead allowing regional authorities to decide which measures are necessary to fight and contain the virus. Travel between regions is once again permitted, meaning people can go on holiday or visit friends and relatives elsewhere in Spain. Facemasks remain obligatory for all, except for children under six, people with health exemptions and those exercising or swimming in pools, the sea, rivers, reservoirs or lakes – as long as social distancing can be maintained.Sánchez has also appealed for a shared sense of responsibility to help negotiate the pandemic and its aftermath.“The pandemic has once again shown us the value of unity,” he said in a tweet on Sunday morning. “Our shared action has been key in the face of the virus and will continue to be so as we begin the recovery.”Barcelona police moved to contain crowds that had gathered to drink and celebrate. Photograph: Nacho Doce/ReutersFernando Simón, the head of Spain’s centre for health emergencies, has warned people not to lower their guard despite the end of the state of emergency.“The end of the state of emergency doesn’t mean the end of control measures,” he said earlier this week. “Individual measures will have to continue to be applied and regional government will keep applying a lot of measures that will allow them to control transmission.”While Simón said Spain’s regional governments had the necessary tools at their disposal, he added: “We can’t rule anything out when it comes to the evolution of the pandemic.”The regional government of Madrid – whose president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has been a vociferous critic of the Sánchez administration’s lockdown measures – decided against imposing a new overnight curfew. It has also ruled out fining people for meeting in groups of more than six, though it has advised against household mixing.Ayuso’ conservative government announced on Friday that bars and restaurants would be allowed to remain open for an extra hour – until midnight – and that shops would be allowed to stay open until 11pm.However, despite the fact that the number of Covid cases per 100,000 people in the region is 317.6 against a national average of 198.6 – and the fact that 42% of Madrid’s intensive care unit beds are occupied by coronavirus patients compared with 21% across the rest of Spain – groups of people will not be fined for gathering in private places and mixing with other households.“The [regional] health department recommends that gatherings of people in public places for family, social or leisure activities be limited to six people unless they live together,” it said in a statement. “Similarly, we advise that gatherings of people for family, social or leisure activities at home or in private spaces be limited to people in the same family or household.”The announcement came three days after Ayuso won a snap election under the campaign slogan of libertad (freedom).







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European Super League: Real Madrid, Barcelona & Juventus defend plans in face of Uefa ‘threat’ From “BBC News – World”



Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are the only clubs from the original 12 to sign up for the ESL not to renounce the breakaway leagueReal Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have defended their plans for a European Super League in the face of what they call “threats” from Uefa.They are the only clubs from the initial 12 yet to withdraw from the proposed ESL, and face disciplinary action from Europe’s governing body.The nine other clubs involved, including six Premier League sides, have been given a financial punishment.”The founding clubs have suffered,” a Real, Barca and Juve statement said.The three clubs say they have faced “unacceptable third-party pressures [and] threats… to abandon the project”, which they feel is an effort to have them “desist from their right and duty to provide solutions to the football ecosystem via concrete proposals and constructive dialogue”.”This is intolerable under the rule of law,” the joint statement continued.The ESL was announced on 18 April but within 48 hours the plans had fallen apart, with the English clubs withdrawing after fan protests and UK government pressure.While the furious backlash stopped plans from going ahead, those behind the ESL have maintained it had a sound legal footing. As a result, they were quick to file injunctions to prevent player and club bans after the proposal was made public.On Friday, the nine that have pulled out – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, plus AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid – said they would “take all steps within their power” to end their involvement in the breakaway league.Barca, Juve and Real have said they “are ready to reconsider the proposed approach”, but reiterated their stance that the structure of elite football in Europe, its appeal to younger generations and the financial pressures facing clubs, need to be addressed.”We would be highly irresponsible if, being aware of the needs and systemic crisis in the football sector, which led us to announce the Super League, we abandoned such mission to provide effective and sustainable answers to the existential questions that threaten the football industry,” they said.”The material issues that led the 12 founding clubs to announce the Super League weeks ago have not gone away.”To honour our history, to comply with our obligations towards our stakeholders and fans, for the good of football and for the financial sustainability of the sector, we have the duty to act in a responsible manner and persevere in the pursuit of adequate solutions, despite the unacceptable and ongoing pressures and threats received from Uefa.”The clubs said they “regret to see” the other nine clubs “now found themselves in such inconsistent and contradictory position when signing a number of commitments to Uefa”.The nine clubs who withdrew have agreed to make a combined 15m euro (£13.4m) goodwill contribution to benefit children’s and grassroots football across Europe.They will also have 5% of Uefa competition revenues withheld for one season, starting in 2023-24, and this money will be redistributed, including in the UK.







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Anti-lockdown candidate Ayuso wins big in Madrid elections as Podemos party leader quits politics in defeat — RT World News From “RT World News”



Madrid premier Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a fierce critic of Covid-19 lockdowns, secured a major victory in Spain’s regional elections, prompting the head of the left-wing Podemos to end his political career after taking fifth place.

With more than 99% of the ballots counted late on Tuesday night, Ayuso’s People’s Party took 45% of the vote, or 65 seats in the regional legislature, just four shy of an outright majority. Doubling its share of the vote compared to the last race in 2019, the People’s Party is expected to enter into a coalition with the right-wing Vox Party, which itself took fourth place with 9% of the vote.“Freedom has won in Madrid, once again,” Ayuso told supporters after her win, echoing a campaign slogan, while People’s Party leader Pablo Casado said voters “trusted [Ayuso’s] handling of the pandemic.”The premier’s campaign was fueled in no small part by her opposition to lockdowns, appealing to voters weary of draconian restrictions while refusing to shutter bars and restaurants during the health crisis.  Tuesday’s race dealt a blow to leftist factions, seeing the Socialist Workers’ Party slip 10 points and 11 seats compared to 2019, tying with the progressive Mas Madrid. In fifth place behind Vox came Podemos, a left-of-center party founded in 2014 in opposition to European austerity policies. Though it gained three additional seats, the relatively poor showing led Podemos founder Pablo Iglesias to declare his exit from politics, saying “We have failed; we were very far from putting together a sufficient majority.”

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“I am not a political figure who can contribute to our political force or help consolidate its institutional strength,” Iglesias added.Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez – a leading member of the Socialist Workers’ Party whose Covid-19 policies were frequently slammed by Ayuso – took to Twitter late on Tuesday night to acknowledge her win. “The polls have given Ayuso a great result and, above all, a great responsibility. Congratulations,” he said. “The [Socialist Workers] will always be ready to work for a better Madrid and turn its votes into a force for the future for the region and its people.”The election campaign in Madrid, Spain’s capital and a city of 7 million, has been fraught with heated rhetoric and at times threats of violence, with several candidates, including Ayuso and Iglesias, receiving death threats from opponents. In early April, a regional office for Podemos was hit with a firebomb, prompting Iglesias to blame the “far right,” calling the attack “street terrorism.” A party spokesman claimed it was the sixth time a Podemos office was targeted by vandals.

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Another Madrid election candidate sent bullets in post after politicians & police receive death threats

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Madrid election: Isabel Díaz Ayuso re-elected in bitter Spanish vote From “BBC News – World”



While Ms Ayuso has described the vote as a choice between “socialism or freedom”, her opponent Pablo Iglesias, from the left-wing Unidos Podemos (United We Can), has spoken of a choice between “democracy or fascism”, highlighting the potential involvement of the far-right Vox party in a future Madrid government.







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People’s party on course to retain control of Madrid in snap election | Spain From “World news | The Guardian”



Spain’s conservative People’s party is on course to retain control of the Madrid region in a snap election dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, after a bitter, fractious and polarised campaign in which six parties on the right and left competed for votes.However, according to a phone poll for the broadcasters TVE and Telemadrid, the PP could need to rely on the far-right Vox party to form a new government in the 136-seat regional parliament.The poll gave the PP 62-65 seats, which would more than double its tally in the 2019 election. The Socialist party of the prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, is was projected to win 25-28 seats, and the leftwing Más Madrid party 21-24.Vox was predicted to come fourth with 12-14 seats, followed by the far-left, anti-austerity Unidas Podemos on 10-11. The centre-right Citizens party, meanwhile, looks likely to fail to win a single seat in the assembly. An hour before the polls closed on Tuesday evening, participation stood at 69%, 11 percentage points up on 2019.The vote was triggered in March when the region’s president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, dissolved her coalition with Citizens in response to efforts elsewhere in Spain to topple PP-led regional governments.Ayuso, who has been a vociferous critic of the country’s Socialist-led coalition government and an opponent of its Covid lockdowns, has not ruled out a deal with Vox, saying it shares common ground with the PP on “some fundamental questions”.While Ayuso’s attitude has won her the respect of many hospitality industry workers, her critics accuse her of putting the regional economy before people’s health. In May last year, the head of public health in the region resigned after disagreements over Ayuso’s response to the pandemic. Her insistence on keeping bars and restaurants open has been questioned.The number of Covid cases per 100,000 people over the past fortnight stands at 343 in Madrid, compared with a national average of 214. In Madrid’s intensive care units, 44% of the beds are occupied by Covid patients; across Spain as a whole, the proportion is 22.9%.The Spanish PM, Pedro Sanchez, casts his ballot. He said the far-right Vox party was a threat to Spain’s democracy and coexistence. Photograph: Ballesteros/EPABy mid-morning on Tuesday, long queues had formed outside polling stations, where workers had been provided with two masks, face screens, disposable gloves and hand gel. Older voters were invited to cast their ballots between 10am and 12pm, while those with the virus or in quarantine were asked to vote in the final hour, between 7pm and 8pm.The electoral campaign was marked by recriminations and accusations, and two of the candidates – including Ayuso – received death threats.Last month the Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias, who stepped down as a national deputy prime minister to contest the election for his party, walked out of a TV debate after Vox’s candidate, Rocío Monasterio, tried to cast doubt on the death threat he and his family had received along with four assault rifle bullets.Ayuso has seized on Iglesias’s candidacy to suggest Tuesday’s poll is a choice between “communism and freedom”, while Vox has been criticised for stigmatising unaccompanied migrant children in its election posters.Sánchez has said Vox poses a threat to Spain’s “democracy and coexistence” and called for a massive mobilisation of voters.“The People’s party says it’s going make a deal with the racist, sexist and homophobic far right, and that doing deals with the far right isn’t the end of the world,” he said on Sunday. “No. It’s not the end of the world, but it could be the beginning of the end of Madrid’s strong democracy and its many rights and freedoms. The mere presence of the far-right in government puts that at risk.”







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Explainer: Covid-19, far-right are top themes in Madrid vote From “World News Headlines, Latest International News, World Breaking News – Times of India”



MADRID: Residents in Madrid, one of Europe’s worst-hit regions in the pandemic, are voting Tuesday for a new regional assembly in an election that tests the depths of resistance to lockdown measures. The early election was called by a conservative regional chief who is trying to cling to power after her center-right coalition crumbled. Isabel Diaz Ayuso has made a name for herself by resisting the strictest measures against the virus and criticizing the national government’s handling of the pandemic. Here’s what’s at stake during the May 4 vote: Why is Madrid’s local election important? By keeping Madrid’s bars, restaurants, museums and concert halls open, Diaz Ayuso has invigorated support for her conservative Popular Party. She has also made inroads among voters recently seduced by the patriotic populism of Vox, an upstart far-right party. Restaurateurs have come up with dishes and menus with her name and her portrait is ubiquitous on the city’s billboards and on mail-in ballots. Diaz Ayuso says the election is about choosing between her promise of “freedom” and the left’s “socialism” and “communism,” in reference to her two rivals who are part of the ruling national coalition. Her resistance to sweeping coronavirus closures has constantly pitched the 42-year-old conservative against Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of the Socialists and the anti-austerity United We Can Party leader, Pablo Iglesias. Iglesias quit his Cabinet position last month to run against Diaz Ayuso in the regional vote. What does the health data say? The virus ravaged the Madrid region’s nursing homes, especially last year. More than 5,000 elderly died before they could be taken in by a hospital system that buckled amid the first wave of infections. Since then, keeping the country’s economic engine up and running has become key goal for Diaz Ayuso, even if that meant having to add hospitals and more beds to treat Covid-19 patients. Diaz Ayuso has firmly resisted curbing travel in and out of Madrid. Instead she has relied on mass screenings with coronavirus antigen tests and setting up large venues to speed up vaccinations. As a result, the region that is home to 14% of the country’s 47 million people has seen more than 19% of the country’s 3.5 million infections and of a national confirmed death toll of over 78,000. The 14-day accumulated caseload on Friday stood at 384 new infections per 100,000 residents, way beyond the national average of 229 new cases per 100,000. What do the polls say? Although a few pollsters are predicting that an absolute majority of the regional assembly’s seats will go to Diaz Ayuso’s conservatives, most estimates hint at a win of over 40% of the vote. That would potentially double the number of Popular Party lawmakers since the last election in 2019. The polls also place the far-right Vox party as the most likely choice for an alliance that would allow Diaz Ayuso to form a government. A smaller possibility is that the center-left camp, fragmented into three parties, will clinch enough votes to form a governing alliance. What are the consequences? Most political analysts agree that any solid victory for Diaz Ayuso will pave the way for more antagonism between the Socialist-led national government and the conservative party that has dominated Spain’s political landscape until recently. It would also mean a rebuke of the recent strategy by the Popular Party’s national leader, Pablo Casado, who has tried to distance his party from Vox’s far-right ideology. Whatever emerges from the ballot, the winner will have the challenge of putting Madrid back on its feet after a tough year with Covid-19 that included a winter blizzard which paralyzed the city for days. The region, rampant with inequality, has been a stronghold of the Popular Party since 1991. The left-wing parties want more investment to solve the social and economic crisis, especially propping up the region’s public education and health systems following years of austerity and privatization. Diaz Ayuso has promised to lower taxes to attract more companies and boost consumption, as well as building more than 6,000 units of social housing.







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