IT appears there is no stopping Esperanza Aguirre from trouncing her opponents in the Madrid mayoral race on May 24.
The former Popular Party (PP) regional premier is expected to be a shoe-in to take over City Hall from current Mayor Ana Botella, who was told to step aside by the same top party officials who came up the voting slates.
The outspoken and sometimes controversial Aguirre didn’t need much help from the PP. Her strong voting base was evident when the local Madrid PP committee decided to select her as a candidate even though some of her detractors inside the party believe that she was partly responsible for the kickbacks and payoffs scandals that have ensnared many of her former collaborators in the regional government.
When Aguirre announced her retirement from politics in September 2012, while she was still regional premier, no one believed that she would stay away for long. The temptation to become the PP’s candidate for prime minister in the future is still strong.
But first she wants the Madrid mayor’s seat, which is an important and pivotal position for anyone vying for national office. Whether she will use the office as a springboard for a shot at the prime minister’s race isn’t clear. Aguirre says “probably not, but nothing is impossible.” She has explained that she decided to return to politics because she saw back in December how anti-austerity Podemos party was gaining strength in December while the PP’s approval rating had plummeted.
It is somewhat difficult to believe that Aguirre returned to the political scene just because she feared the “liberticide populism” – as she put it – that Podemos proposes for the country.
She is back because she knows hers is a strong candidacy and she is the only high-profile contender in the race. And of course, there is that possible attempt to capture La Moncloa after Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy decides to step aside. It could be difficult but not impossible.