Isabel Díaz Ayuso and Angela Merkel belong, in theory, to the same current of political thought, represented in the European People’s Party, in which its two formations, the Spanish PP and the German CDU, are integrated. However, when you listen to both, you immediately understand that Merkel would not endure ten seconds of debate with Díaz Ayuso without being stunned and that the president of the Community of Madrid cannot look with greater contempt at everything Merkel represents. Perhaps because Díaz Ayuso does not respond to any European line of conservative thought, but to a clearly national / populist current from which Merkel, who was born and raised in what was East Germany, has shown, time and again, that she is fleeing terrified.
The most annoying thing about Díaz Ayuso (in addition to his ambiguity regarding the increasingly violent message from Vox) is that with his electoral strategy he is preventing the May 4 elections from being useful, for example to debate what has happened in Madrid as consequence of the pandemic, the advantages and disadvantages of co-governance in times of great health crisis, the risks that still exist, the aspects that must be corrected and the projects that should be launched taking advantage of the existence of the European recovery fund. In fact, the best news of the week for the Community of Madrid (as for all the others) has been that the German Constitutional Court will not paralyze the implementation of these Union funds.
The pandemic is leaving very serious substantive issues on the table, which, whether or not they are discussed in the Madrid electoral campaign, are ignored or not by Mrs. Díaz Ayuso (because it suits her or simply because she does not even know they exist), they will be part of the lives of Madrid (and all Spaniards) for many years. The first is to what extent there are issues in which the devolution of power at the regional and local levels can be an advantage or a disadvantage.
It is obvious that this “return” seems a simple solution to the problem of approximation of decision-making to citizens, even that it has an unquestionable democratic aroma. However, the pandemic, and not only its effects and needs from a health point of view, but also from an economic point of view, has raised serious doubts about the effectiveness of this dispersed operation. Angela Merkel herself, head of government of a federal country, has passed a law, which has already passed the Bundestag (Congress) and must still pass through the Bundesrat (Senate), to make certain decisions depend on the central government, convinced that that some difficult measures, which protect at the same time vulnerable minorities and large masses of the population, can only be taken by the Government and the national Parliament. The most local authorities feel too comfortable with scenarios that have rapid electoral returns, he believes.
That is an important issue: the role of national parliaments when it comes to suspending constitutional rights. Democracy does not imply, as some think, “subtleties for times of peace”, but an indispensable element of social organization in times of war, crisis or pandemic. It is true that in certain circumstances it is necessary to resort to emergency powers, but the important thing is that it is perfectly clear in Parliament how long they are in force and when and how the previous status is fully recovered. When Isabel Díaz Ayuso speaks of “freedom” in her electoral program, she is not referring at all to this fundamental issue. In fact, the epidemic bill that the PP has sent to the Congress of Deputies, and about which the leader of his party, Pablo Casado, talks so much, has a formidable hole in that regard. For Casado and Ayuso, it is the communities that must approve the restrictions on citizens’ rights and go to the judges in case of doubt, which would leave the national Parliament in a clearly marginal position. Perhaps Casado should speak to Merkel’s advisers. Díaz Ayuso surely doesn’t have the slightest interest.