Polling stations opened their doors in Madrid on Tuesday for a regional election that is seen as something of litmus test for political sentiment beyond the capital.
More than five million voters are set to cast their ballots to choose a new regional legislature with health measures in place to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
The incumbent regional president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso of the conservative Popular Party, is expected to come out of the election on top of the rest, although she may fall just short of a majority in the 136-seat regional assembly.
Ayuso, one of the PP’s most recognizable figures, has built her political image on libertarianism, which is typified by her perpetual pushback against Covid-19 recommendations from the national government, a left-wing coalition.
She called the elections earlier this year in a political gamble to consolidate the PP’s share of the regional chamber without having to rely on a coalition with former partners Ciudadanos, a party that is set to plummet in the vote.
The most recent polling suggests Ayuso may have to turn to the aid of the far-right Vox party to form a functioning government, something the three left of center parties in the campaign have warned against.
Those three parties are the Socialist Party (PSOE), led in Madrid by Ángel Gabilondo, the far-left Unidas Podemos, led by former deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias, and the left-wing Más Madrid, led by doctor and activist Mónica García.EFE