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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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Pablo Iglesias leaves Spanish politics, ‘very proud’ of Podemos legacy | Spain From “World news | The Guardian”



One of the more remarkable and once-unthinkable trajectories in modern Spanish politics came to an end a little before midnight on Tuesday when the Podemos leader and former deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias announced he was leaving the political stage for good.Speaking after the conservative People’s party (PP) triumphed in the Madrid regional election in which he had stood as his party’s candidate, Iglesias said the time had come for him to “leave my post and leave politics”. But the former politics lecturer added that he remained “very proud” to have led “a project that changed the history of our country”.It was not an empty boast. In the seven years since Podemos was born from the fury of Spain’s indignados movement, the far-left, anti-austerity party has transformed the country’s politics.After breaking through in 2014’s European elections, Podemos – together with the now moribund, centre-right Citizens party – brought an end to four decades of dominance by the duopoly of the PP and the Spanish Socialist Workers’ party (PSOE).While the much-predicted sorpasso (overtaking) of the PSOE failed to materialise at the 2016 general election – and although Podemos has long struggled with factional squabbles and schisms – the party still managed to enter Spain’s first coalition government in eight decades a mere six years after its foundation.“Being in politics broadens the shoulders,” he told the Guardian in 2017. “There’s that cruel saying: ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ And I think the punches we’ve taken have made us stronger.”Throughout his time in both opposition and government, Iglesias has never found himself lost for words. In 2016, he stunned his then deputy, Iñigo Errejón, by rounding on the PSOE in congress by reminding the Socialists of their role in the dirty war against Basque terror group Eta in the 1980s, when government-funded death squads murdered suspected terrorists and disposed of their bodies. Iglesias told the chamber that the former PSOE leader Felipe González was a man with “a quicklime-stained past”.More recently, he has reserved his anger and rhetoric for his opponents in the far-right Vox party, suggesting it would like to see a coup d’état in Spain but lacked the courage to stage one, and telling its MPs: “You’re not even fascists – you’re just parasites.”Iglesias has also spoken of a “sewers of state” structure, operated by certain media figures and PP members, which, he alleges, has long engaged in efforts to protect the party from judicial scrutiny and smear its opponents with fabricated political scandals.Despite walking out of a recent election debate after Vox’s candidate tried to cast doubt on the death threat he and his family had received – along with four assault rifle bullets – Iglesias is unlikely to keep his opinions to himself now that he has left politics. Enemies and former allies alike can expect to find themselves the target of a man who travelled, over the course of a few short years, from being one of the fiercest critics of the ruling elite to one of those at its very heart, albeit only briefly.







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