The COVID situation in Madrid is now out of control. In some areas—namely, the poorest—of the Spanish capital and the surrounding region, there are even more than 1,000 positive cases per 100,000 inhabitants: over 1% of the local population has become infected in the last two weeks.
These are alarming numbers, which have been worrying experts for days and which have now given Madrid the uncoveted top spot as the European area with the highest incidence of infection.
On Thursday, a third of the new cases in Spain were registered in the Madrid community, which has been governed by the People’s Party for 20 years, and which now counts almost 3,000 people hospitalized, of which almost 400 in intensive care.
While the other regions where the alarm bells went off during the summer, such as Aragon and Catalonia, are expending great efforts to keeping the spread of the virus under control—the numbers are not decreasing, but at least the growth has stopped, and in some areas the situation is improving slightly—in Madrid, the many voices sounding the alarm and the all-too-discreet appeals from the national health authorities in recent days don’t seem to have shaken President Isabel Díaz Ayuso from her slumber, from whom her Ciudadanos allies are also now distancing themselves.
The vice-president of the community, Ignacio Aguado from Ciudadanos, has admitted that the situation was getting worse and that everyone’s efforts were needed: “We still have time to control the situation if we are able to give ourselves a political respite.” This expression could be an omen for changes in the majority governing the region, a political scenario that was unthinkable just a few weeks ago.
The right-wing government of the region is based on an agreement between the PP and Ciudadanos, with the support of Vox, but the alliance has only one seat more than the Socialists, Podemos and Más Madrid (a party founded by the former mayor Manuela Carmena and the former right-hand man of Pablo Iglesias, Íñigo Errejón). If Ciudadanos heeds the call of the Socialists (who are also courting them in Congress, asking them for support for the 2021 financial uncertainty), the government of the region could change its color.
The Socialists, and especially Más Madrid, have already threatened a motion of no confidence in the regional parliament, and Ciudadanos, increasingly uncomfortable with the constant changes in the criteria applied by the Madrid government, its president and its health councilor (also from PP), could swallow its pride and abandon the failed PP-led government.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Sánchez accepted a face-to-face meeting with Ayuso, who went from criticizing Sánchez for centralizing all power to asking the government to help clean up her mess.
For now, however, the premier’s policy is to let the autonomous communities take care of themselves. On Friday, it was expected that the Ayuso regional government would finally announce measures to contain the spread of the virus (measures that were first announced then walked back, and now on the agenda once again).