When Isabel Díaz Ayuso began her political career as the face on an electoral poster, in the Madrid regional elections of 2019, she was politically unformed. She appeared in those elections for the Community of Madrid thanks to the support of Pablo Casado, leader with whom she would end up dueling. Her results that month of May were very poor, leaving the People's Party (PP) as the second-ranked political party - 22.3% of the votes and 30 seats - behind the Socialists (PSOE) - 27.31% of the votes and 37 seats. A pact with Ciudadanos and Vox propelled her to the presidency, and then she won a snap election she called in 2021 with 44.3% of the vote and 65 deputies, more than double her figures of two years earlier and, in absolute figures, with the largest number of votes ever won in Madrid by a candidate. Now, the polls again give her an absolute majority, 68 seats, with the support if necessary, of the voting cushion of far-right Vox, and predict that Podemos will end up outside the regional parliament, probably failing to win any representation. Curious: there, where the 15-M movement began, the party to which it gave birth runs the risk of becoming irrelevant, while in Barcelona its representative, Ada Colau, is in the race for the mayoralty of Barcelona and the polls place her first, second or third, but always among the contenders.
Whether you like her or not, Díaz Ayuso is a political phenomenon who needs to be studied by anyone who wants to seriously combat her and win it at the polls. Among other things because her political movements are always very predictable, her recipe is very old, and she is the clearest demonstration that a political leader can be "moulded" as long as they are disciplined and have a winning strategy. And Ayuso has that. Or rather, what she has is the worrying Miguel Ángel Rodríguez pulling the strings. The levers she pulls are twofold: madrileñismo, an expression of identity that acts as a galvanising force in a community that is geographically non-existent, but organized around the mediatic and economic power of the capital; and confrontation with the one who is really in charge, who is none other than the Spanish prime minister.
No one knows the name of the PSOE candidate in the Madrid Community - a certain Juan Lobato, a specialist working in Treasury and ex-mayor of Soto del Real - since Ayuso is confronting both Pedro Sánchez and Alberto Núñez Feijóo. The guru Rodríguez already shaped Aznar when he was president of Castilla y León and took him to the Spanish government palace. It's a strategy that is obviously not new. An example at the ideological antipodes, and with a clearly much more solid and consistent political profile, is Jordi Pujol, who did not face off with Raimon Obiols or Quim Nadal, to name two candidates of the PSC in the Catalan elections, but directly with the person who held the Spanish prime ministership at the time, Felipe González or José María Aznar. Always a highly-ranked rival to make the local candidate invisible. It was a strategy, but one that placed him a step above, something that Ayuso also achieves without effort.
Madrileñismo as a political phenomenon has little or nothing to do with other aspects of its identity, for example, with the chotis, the dance most celebrated by the people of Madrid. A distinctly populist veneer, a permanent alignment with the powerful, an idea of Spain in which Catalanism not only does not exist, but towards which there is a willingness to fight it and imprison it if necessary, a visceral anti-leftism and a desire to get rid of Pedro Sánchez at any cost. An explosive and dangerous cocktail seen from Barcelona, but one that is able to bring together in Madrid - and not only in Madrid - a very large majority that is moved by the impulse of everything anti-Catalan, and now also, with everything that can be identified with the government of the PSOE and Unidas Podemos. That is how Ayuso has made Madrid her own distrito federal.