Almeida condemns Villacís on the third anniversary of the coalition: “I aspire to govern alone”

Almeida condemns Villacís on the third anniversary of the coalition: “I aspire to govern alone”

Begoña Villacís is a little late. The Deputy Mayor of Madrid attends the third anniversary of the coalition government of the PP and Ciudadanos at the capital’s City Hall after 12:00. Meanwhile, José Luis Martínez-Almeida looks at the clock out of the corner of his right eye. The mayor talks to his councillors. There are two black stools around the monument to Alfonso XII in Retiro Park, one of the most visited by tourists and locals, where the only shadow is a small white shed of 40 square meters installed by City Hall staff: the place dedicated to which was chosen third iconic photo of the mandate. These are not easy days for sunbathing in Madrid. Neither does the shade, although the park has thousands of trees. Finally, all council members stand behind their leaders with a fan in the background moving left to right for invited journalists, council members, and advisers. The family photo is finally done. Villacís takes the floor:

Almudena, shut up.

Almudena Maillo is the city council’s delegate for tourism. From the PP.

“The best proof of the health of a coalition government – Villacís notes – is that you can silence PP councilors and nothing happens”. If everything goes according to Andalusian polls, next Monday the deputy mayor of the capital will be the most important figure of Ciudadanos in all of Spain. Election after election – first in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, then in Castilla y León and now, predictably, in Andalusia – Inés Arrimadas’ party failed to win. In the capital, however, Villacís would have its pike in Cibeles. The recently released El Mundo and La Razón polls show that the people of Madrid support his government. In 2023 he would resist the party with a small liberal jump.

“I’m bad at being humble, but we have one of the most serious coalition governments in Spain,” he continues. “We show that liberalism works […] It was very easy to agree. We were two different political parties who continue to have our differences but were able to reach a coalition agreement.” During the almost 10-minute intervention, he mentions Almeida only once. Before that, yes, he drops some awkward situations: “We had ideological discussions on the board and we always knew how to find a way to elegantly disagree, didn’t we?” Almeida looks at her. Nod. “There are no other options than [repetir en 2023] this two-tone government,” proclaims the deputy mayor.

The Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, and the Deputy Mayor, Begoña Villacís, in El Retiro. The Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, and the Deputy Mayor, Begoña Villacís, in El Retiro. Andrea Commas

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The mayor then receives the microphone from Villacís: “My first thanks go to the people of Madrid […] the second is for Begoña”. He says this year should be the “culmination” of a “joint” government effort. After the staging, some councilors go to Lake Retiro, others sit on the nearby stairs. Others stay alone. And the press conference begins. The press secretaries of both presidents had agreed that Villacís would lead the way, insisting that this coalition is very strong and that Ciudadanos still has some time. Almeida, meanwhile, decides to sit on the steps of the monument with several of his mayors, ignoring the words of his deputy mayor.

He returns to the microphone alone and goes along with everything. No future coalitions. “I can only say that I naturally aim to govern alone with the PP in 2023.” Villacís does not listen to these words either. Most of Ciudadanos town councils are scattered throughout the park. They find out later through consultants and journalists. “It was disrespectful to say that,” one of them later complained over the phone. “He had one face with us during his speech and another during the press conference. He did it from behind when we weren’t there.”

The relationship between the two presidents was never excellent, according to several councilors consulted. One position of the PP sums it up as cordial. “Most of the fights in those years can be traced back to protocol actions,” he says. “You speak, I speak. Sometimes we forget that we have a partner who is Ciudadanos.” Other agents believe Villacís was much more generous to Almeida than vice versa. “The deputy mayor’s problem is that she doesn’t understand that the official figure of the city council is the mayor.” The interim positions of both parties – mainly press and cabinet chiefs – have eased most of the tensions: when they falsely announced their candidacy for the Olympics, Almeida’s refusal to fly the LGTBI flag… Do citizens fear the PP will fall under the clutches? its councilors in the months leading up to the elections? “What’s that about?” answers a voice from the party. “They can’t touch our noses anymore, why are they doing it now? There is still a year to go before the elections, but if they do, the PP will lose because loyalty would be lost.

Citizens ask for time for the campaign. But the mayor already showed in the act marking the third anniversary of his term in office that the PP has been campaigning for a long time.

Almeida protects herself from the sun with a fan along with several members of PP and Ciudadanos. Almeida protects herself from the sun with a fan along with several members of PP and Ciudadanos. Andrea Commas

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