Don’t Let Them In!

On May 4, Madrid, one of Europe’s most influential capitals is to hold early regional elections. Below DiEM25’s Coordinating Collective’s proposed recommendation to DiEMers and progressives in Spain.

Background

Last month, in an opportunistic political move as the COVID-19 crisis continues to hit hard Spain’s capital, the region’s president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso (People’s Party) launched her bid to consolidate her leadership. Ayuso justifies her move in terms of saving the region’s ailing economy. A stronger People’s Party representation, she claims, will also ensure better management of the health crisis.

“Communism or freedom!” is the choice Ayuso says voters must make at ballot boxes next month, as she continues to blame the central government for anything that has gone wrong in the handling of the coronavirus pandemic. For her, the health restrictions imposed by the Socialist-Unidas Podemos minority coalition government are destroying the country’s economy, not the health crisis.

In reality, however, the Ayuso government has only exacerbated the region’s health crisis. Effectively, the ruling People’s Party in Madrid has, among other “freedom”– seeking actions:

  • Mismanaged the health crisis by refusing to limit mobility;
  • Given mobility privileges to richer neighbourhoods;
  • Recruited volunteers instead of paying proper staff to identify infections and administer vaccines
  • Favoured the private healthcare system by shutting down neighbourhood primary healthcare centres during the first months of the pandemic, hence ensuring the collapse of public hospitals.

And a few days ago, sidestepping national and EU authorities, her government acknowledged unilateral exploratory meetings to negotiate the purchase of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine.

With ultra-right VOX polling well enough to enter the region’s government, and the chameleon Ciudadanos party facing the real prospect of having no representation in the regional parliament, the stage is set for a catastrophic conservative-extremist political leadership taking over Spain’s central region.

Sadly, the progressive alternative has also taken the opportunist path ahead of the upcoming Madrid region elections.

In a surprise move, Unidas Podemos’ leader and Spain’s deputy vice-minister Pablo Iglesias dropped his post in the central government to join the Madrilenian regional race. The left in the region is now split self-indulgently between the Socialists, Unidas Podemos and Más Madrid, the political party the Podemos co-founder Iñigo Errejón launched after the party split a few years ago.

DiEM25’s Recommendation: Don’t Let Them In!

While it saddens us that Spanish progressives continue to miss every opportunity to link arms and step up to the monumental challenges Spain and Europe continue to face, we can only recommend to our Spanish members and sympathizers that they vote for any of the three left-wing options of their preference to avoid an essentially fascist government taking over the region.

The Unidas Podemos-Socialist coalition represents a landmark in Spain, for it is the first-ever coalition government to hold power in the country since well-before the dictatorship ended half a century ago. But the hope for a real forward-looking agenda for Spain and for Europe under such a pioneering political, partnership of the left is rapidly vanishing due to the iron grip of  “old politics” and “business as usual”.

Thus, we call upon DiEMers to say to their progressive candidates: “We’re not voting you in, we’re voting the extremists out. If we manage to succeed, we demand – and will campaign – for you to unite behind a true progressive, green agenda for Spain and Europe: “What Europe Must Now Do – DiEM25’s Progressive European Policy Agenda for the 2020s“.

Photo (c) Ondacero

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