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Spain’s deputy premier steps down to compete in regional election

Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Spanish far-left party Unidas Podemos | Andres Ballesteros/AFP via Getty Images
Pablo Iglesias, leader of the Spanish far-left party Unidas Podemos | Andres Ballesteros/AFP via Getty Images

dpa/GNA – Spain’s Deputy Prime Minister Pablo Iglesias, of the leftist United We Can (UP) alliance, unexpectedly resigned on Monday, saying he plans to stand as leader of the regional government in Madrid in upcoming elections.

Iglesias, who is extremely unpopular in conservative circles, said he would run against Madrid’s conservative regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso in the regional elections on May 4.

He plans to leave his post in government at the start of campaigning on April 30.

“Democracy is threatened by a new right a la Trump,” Iglesias tweeted in explanation. “Today, it is necessary to confront this criminal right.”

His comments also referred to the right-wing populist Vox party.

Iglesias proposed Labour Minister Yolanda Diaz to succeed him as deputy to Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

Iglesias’ resignation is likely to have a significant impact on the national government, campaigning in the Madrid election and the UP itself, according to newspaper La Vanguardia.

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In reaction to the announcement, Ayuso said: “Spain owes me one, I got Iglesias to leave government.”

Ayuso, who campaigned with the slogan “Freedom or Socialism,” has been accused of beeing too far on the right, though many also see her as a beacon of hope in the PP.

In a television interview with broadcaster Telecinco shortly before the announcement, she said: “If they accuse you of being fascist then you know you have done everything right, you’re on the right side of history.”

Ayuso, of the conservative PP, called the new election last week after her junior coalition partner, the liberal-conservative Ciudadanos, ended its coalition with her People’s Party (PP) in the Murcia region and introduced a no-confidence motion in the regional head of government.

Ayuso, who had been weighing an early election for some time, according to reports, said she had to pre-empt a no-confidence motion by calling new elections.

So far, polling suggests Ayuso would win an election but fail to gain an absolute majority, which means she could depend more heavily on Vox in the future.