On Tuesday, Spain’s conservative People’s Party (PP) won a resounding victory in a Madrid regional election but fell just short of an absolute majority.
The left-leaning socialist PSOE and Más Madrid parties, along with the far-left Unidas Podemos (United We Can) failed to obtain enough support to form a government.
Unidas Podemos’ leader Pablo Iglesias, who stepped down as deputy prime minister in Spain’s coalition government to run in Madrid, announced his retirement from domestic politics after the results were announced.
“I will remain committed to my country but I won’t get in the way of new leadership,” said Iglesias, a former MEP for The Left Group in the European Parliament.
The Left tweeted on Wednesday, “Muchas gracias compañero. Thank you Pablo Iglesias for your huge contribution to politics and our movement in Spain and throughout Europe. Proud to call you a comrade, we wish you the best in your new chapter.”
French The Left MEP Leïla Chaibi thanked Iglesias “for what you have given to millions of people abandoned by politics.”
She told him, “Thank you for your stubborn fight against fascism. I know I'll always find you in the fight and always on the right side of history.”
Spanish Greens/EFA member Ernest Urtasun tweeted, “It has been, it is, and it will be an honour walking by your side. Don’t go too far away.”
Greek The Left deputy Dimitrios Papadimoulis, a Vice-President of Parliament, described Iglesias’ decision to quit as “brave.”
“Thank you for your stubborn fight against fascism. I know I'll always find you in the fight and always on the right side of history” Leïla Chaibi, The Left
Spanish The Left MEP Miguel Urbán Crespo reacted to the result by saying it meant “Two more years of policies in favour of the rich in Madrid.”
He added, “We must turn these two years into a fight to reverse these results, beginning tomorrow and building from the bottom up.”
The bitter campaign trail was riddled with animosity that saw bullets being sent to the homes of some candidates. Iglesias also received threats against his family.
Iglesias was elected to the European parliament in the 2014 elections as the leading candidate of the newly-created Podemos party. On 15 March, he announced that he would be stepping down from the Spanish government to run in the regional elections.
In the election, the PP, led by incumbent regional president Isabel Díaz Ayuso, won 65 seats in the 136-seat regional assembly, more than doubling its tally in the 2019 regional election and taking more seats than all three left-wing parties combined.
However, the failure of the PP to cross the majority threshold of 69 seats means it will now have to rely on the help of the far-right Vox party to form a new government.