For all that Spanish deputy prime minister Pablo Iglesias resigned from office to stand as the Podemos candidate for the presidency of the Community of Madrid and play the role of the gambit who would bring down president Isabel Díaz Ayuso (Popular Party), there is no denying that the campaign has been exclusively a duel between Ayuso, new leading woman among the Spanish conservatives if she gets her way this Tuesday at the close of the polls, and the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez. The battle between Ayuso and Sánchez, depending on how it is resolved, will go from local to Spain-wide and may be the start of an ordeal for the current occupant of the Spanish government palace, who has already left so many corpses on the road since that hopeful no-confidence motion against Mariano Rajoy that today he can count as many broken parliamentary promises as there are political groups in the Congress of Deputies. He has placed all his eggs in the basket of the European funds and in his confidence that the manna from Brussels will fall as a rain of votes.
Whatever the final result this Tuesday, it is not in dispute that the victory of the PP candidate will be overwhelming and will double the votes of the next placed candidature, which will surely be that of the Socialist Party (PSOE). It remains to be seen whether, as predicted by all the independent polls that have been conducted, the sum of the PP and far-right Vox achieves an absolute majority. Avoiding both of these results has been the battle that Pedro Sánchez has been trying to fight throughout the campaign, thinking that everything would go well, as with his sparring in Congress against Pablo Casado, and suddenly it may happen that the right has found a candidate capable of bringing all its groups together and of fishing in the Vox electorate. An operation like that of Aznar, but thirty years later.
Only two headlines will emerge from election night: Ayuso wins and Sánchez loses, or Sánchez wins and Ayuso loses. There's less doubt about the headline for Pablo Iglesias, who is facing an eclipse in his political career that is perhaps final. Walking away from the circles of the Moncloa palace and the position of second-ranked of Spain's four deputy PMs to boost his party’s campaign and then not getting past last place in the parties that enter parliament will be a rather poor result. Iglesias, however, seems prepared for this eventuality and has already been speculating on his departure from the front line. The fact that, in addition, the candidate of his former party colleague, now-rival, Íñigo Errejón with Más Madrid seems set to obtain many more deputies than Podemos, makes it even more difficult to digest.
However, the most likely option in view of the polls - that Ayuso will need Vox to govern - will not be a problem. The Madrid right has assumed this cost and there will be no major internal protests. As things stand, there will be more joy from the disappearance of Ciudadanos than reaction to the need to reach agreement with the far right. Madrid is like that.
The Catalan pro-independence parties will have to keep an eye on the Madrid elections. Politics consists of communicating vessels and if until now the Spanish prime minister has stayed afloat on a parliamentary majority that he obtained quite cheaply in terms of agreements, the price will rise proportionately as his potential failure becomes greater. Affording trust to Sánchez is an almost useless exercise, but maybe this time he has to step back and start doing the things he always said he would do and never did. My skepticism with Sánchez is almost limitless, but if he finds himself truly on the ropes, we’ll see what response he comes up with. For that, we will have to wait until Tuesday night.