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"Carmena, who in her youth opposed the Francisco Franco regime, was a largely unknown figure in the Spanish capital before she campaigned on a promise to make the fight against economic inequality her priority," AFP reports. (Photo: ahora madrid/flickr/cc)

Podemos-Backed, Anti-Austerity Leftist Becomes Madrid's New Mayor

Manuela Carmena's ascension marks end to 24 years of rule by center-right Popular Party

Deirdre Fulton

Manuela Carmena, a 71-year-old retired judge who ran on an anti-austerity, anti-corruption, anti-eviction platform, is set to become the next mayor of Spain's capital, Madrid, after her leftist Ahora Madrid protest party on Thursday agreed to an alliance with the Socialist party.

According to Reuters, "The victory of her left-wing alliance in the national capital is another blow to the [Popular Party] after its rout in municipal and regional elections last month when austerity-weary Spaniards abandoned the party in droves."

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Ahora Madrid was born out of the "Indignados (Outraged)" protest movement that erupted during Spain's economic crisis. That crisis, and the policies that came out of it, led to the ascension of the newly-formed Podemos party, which has put a serious dent in the country's governing regime over the last year.

Reuters writes:

Retired from the legal profession since 2010, Carmena had set up a shop selling baby clothes sewn by ex-convicts. She turned down initial approaches from Podemos ("We Can") leader Pablo Iglesias to lead the campaign for Ahora Madrid, then relented in March.

She became the favoured candidate of bohemians and social activists. Artists created a series of posters for her during her campaign, including one of her with a Catwoman mask, a play on the nickname 'cats', given to people from Madrid.

Agence France-Presse reports that Carmena, who will be sworn in on Saturday, "has said that one of her first steps as mayor will be to try to prevent people from becoming homeless by doing away with evictions when possible and providing alternative accommodations when it is not."

She has also vowed to "stamp out corruption, develop public transport, increase subsidies for poor families and slash the mayor's salary by more than half," according to AFP, which adds: "Carmena, who is known for getting around by bicycle, has promised to govern 'not only for those who voted for change' but 'also for those who do not believe in it'."


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