By Linda Hall •
Updated: 03 Sep 2023 • 11:39
REGIONAL PRESIDENT: Maria Isabel Ayuso dressed as a Madrid ‘chulapa’
Photo credit: PP Comunidad de Madrid
MARIA ISABEL DIAZ AYUSO stole the show as the Partido Popular hierarchy celebrated the general election results on July 23.
As custom demands after an election win, the big names were lined up on the balcony of the party’s headquarters in Madrid’s Calle Genova, flanking a euphoric Alberto Nuñez.
Most were wearing white, an appropriate choice for a hot summer’s night when the president of the Madrid region, Maria Isabel Ayuso swept onto the balcony, a vision in red and black.
The cheers grew to a roar as Ayuso took her place, while those present put on their best smiles as Nuñez made his victory speech. The celebration continued although underlying the loud rejoicing was the knowledge that the PP and their far-right allies Vox had not obtained the overall majority which pollsters and pundits alike predicted.
Nor were matters helped when the crowd began to chant “Ayuuuuuso, Ayuuuuuso, Ayuuuuuso,” drowning out Feijoo’s words, while the regional president looked demure. He soldiered on, first breaking off to say, “Thank you presidenta” before finally stopping to assure the crowd, “I’m finishing now.”
Is Ayuso a rival? She claims not, insisting that her future and ambitions lie with the Madrid Community.
But it is important to remember that she eventually saw off Pablo Casado, former president of the Partido Popular who, although she was practically unknown, put her forward for the Madrid region presidency in 2019.
After all, there are those who remember her as a rather dowdy intern for the radio station attached to for Spain’s most-read publication, the sports daily, Marca.
Something happened along Ayuso’s road to politics because even her detractors, those who do not subscribe to her very conservative – with both an upper and lowercase letter – politics agree that she is glamorous.
She is probably the best-looking and best-presented female politician around at present, but Ayuso is an iron butterfly who brings to mind Ronald Reagans’ verdict that Margaret Thatcher was “the best man in England.”
Ayuso’s rapturous reception on election night when she had no reason to take centre stage, suggests that her many supporters believe she is the “best man in Spain.”
Her principal mission is, she says, ridding the country of Sanchismo, describing Pedro Sanchez as a “dead end street” whose principal goal is to destroy and break up Spain.
Feijoo, former president of the Galicia region, was allegedly perfectly happy to remain where he was after consecutive overall majorities between 2009 and 2022.
Casado was never entirely certain whether he should stick to the centre and the centre-right or veer erratically to the far Left as he strove to neutralise the threat posed by Vox which was filching traditional PP voters.
When Casado resigned after coming off worse than Ayuso in a battle involving an investigation into a contract awarded to her brother during the pandemic, Feijoo was drafted in as a moderate, pragmatic and safe pair of hands.
The big question now is how big a danger Ayuso poses. Not to Pedro Sanchez, who has learnt how to look after himself since winning the PSOE’s 2014 primaries, but to Feijoo.
Ayuso’s predecessor as regional president, Esperanza Aguirre who is not known for mincing her words, has said that Maria Isabel Ayuso “is the PP’s future.”
She could be right, not least because demure and ambitious Ayuso knows how to play a long game.
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Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share?
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