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Madrid’s mayor candidate proposes pact to stop Podemos

Published on May 26, 2015

The candidate for mayor of Madrid of Spain's governing Popular Party (PP) on Tuesday offered the opposition Socialists a pact to block a far-left anti-austerity politician from winning control of city hall after weekend election.

“My goal is to stop Podemos,” Esperanza Aguirre told a news conference, confirming that she had offered her Socialist rival an alliance to bar Manuela Carmena — who is backed by the Podemos protest party — from becoming the capital’s mayor.

Carmena, a 71-year-old retired judge, led the Ahora Madrid coalition, a group spawned by the anti-austerity “Indignado” protest movement of 2011 that is backed by Podemos, a party born out of the protests.

Her team came second in Sunday’s municipal election, winning 20 council seats to Aguirre’s 21.

She could yet defeat Aguirre for mayor if she forges an alliance with the mainstream opposition Socialist Party, which came third.

That avenue remained open after the Socialist candidate, Antonio Miguel Carmona, rejected the Popular Party’s overtures.

“Regarding Aguirre’s proposal…my response in that name of the Socialists and in my own name was a firm NO,” he wrote in a Twitter message.

Carmena said Monday that she was confident of taking city hall, with the backing of the Socialists.

Together, Ahora Madrid and the Socialists would have 29 seats in the 57-seat Madrid municipal assembly, enough to drive the PP out of the city hall stronghold it has controlled for 24 years.

But Aguirre made other calculations, arguing an alliance between the PP, the Socialists and centre-right party Ciudadanos, which won seven council seats, could form a municipal government that represented most voters.

“There are a million voters who back an option of the broad centre, that takes in the centre-left, the centre-centre and the centre-right,” she said.

Podemos “want to use the mayor’s office as a trampoline to break the western democratic system, a trampoline to become the main political force at the national level,” she added.

An avowed admirer of the late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, she warned during the campaign that if the new anti-austerity party won a general election “it will be the last time we vote freely.”

“After that we will vote, but like they do in Cuba,” she added.

Ahora Madrid and other groups born out of the “Indignado” movement battered the governing Popular Party (PP) in Sunday’s local and regional elections.

The PP lost its majority in most regions, in a vote seen as a warm-up for a general election due in November.