The Government of José Luis Martínez-Almeida took the penultimate step on Friday to approve the new mobility ordinance of the Madrid City Council. The standard includes in its articles the new Central Madrid that PP and Ciudadanos have designed to replace the one launched by the Executive of Manuela Carmena, and who has been overthrown by justice for defects of form. The regulation of the wide zone of low emissions, which will be renamed the Central District, will relax the limitation of the use of private vehicles. More cars, vans and trucks, more polluting and for a longer time, will be able to enter the confined spaces.
INTERVIEW | José Manuel Calvo: “If we don’t support Almeida’s ‘Madrid Central’, the one who gets away with it is Vox”
But Almeida is not guaranteed the approval of the rule in the plenary session that he wants to convene, yes or yes, for September 10, just before the sentence that overthrows Madrid Central and that the PP interposed in the opposition is executed. His Vox allies, who gave him the mayoralty despite not winning the elections and who have upheld all his policies so far, have already announced that they will not support the ordinance. The far right believes that the mayor has betrayed the promise he made in the 2019 election campaign to end the limitation of trafficking. The leader of the PP wields in his defense that the Climate Change Law obliges cities to establish low-emission zones, but said norm was approved by the Cortes last May, two years after his inauguration.
Thus, PP and Citizens will have to look to their left to find the necessary support. Those who attacked in the past for starting Madrid Central and those they accused of curtailing the “freedom” to circulate wherever they wanted. Neither PSOE nor Más Madrid are for the task of facilitating the approval of the regulations. But the split in the group led by Rita Maestre starring four councilors carmenistas It has opened an unexpected opportunity for the municipal government, which needs only three votes to get the ordinance.
The one who was delegate of Sustainable Urban Development with Carmena, José Manuel Calvo, explained in an interview with elDiario.es the position of the members of the Recupera Madrid platform: “Is it our ordinance? No. Do we think it is the ordinance that Does Madrid need? No, we would like a much more ambitious ordinance. But we are not the Government, we do not have the capacity to design that ordinance. And what we are facing is the dilemma of consolidating Central Madrid or seeing it disappear by court ruling in mid-September “.
The four councilors of Recupera Madrid believe that the ordinance approved by Almeida represents a full-fledged rectification of the also national spokesman of the PP. In an article published this Friday on The country Calvo, along with Marta Higueras, Luis Cueto and Felipe Llamas, defend that the Central District is, basically, Central Madrid with the only difference that it will allow access to merchants, something that, they say, was already happening “de facto”.
The vision from Más Madrid is the opposite of that of his former teammates. Its spokeswoman, Rita Maestre, assured this Friday that the ordinance “suppresses” Central Madrid since it will allow access to 50,000 more vehicles every day than until now, according to her calculations. “It would be very incongruous for us to endorse a de facto elimination of Madrid Central now,” he said in an interview on Telemadrid.
The 15 councilors of Más Madrid they will vote like this against the ordinance in the Plenary, although they will register partial amendments to the articles. The group is not alone in its rejection. Greenpeace also considers the norm a “cut” on what existed that will have, in addition, “an additional cost of 185,000 euros for delete the name of Central Madrid. “Even United We Can, which does not have municipal representation, has shown its rejection. The regional deputy Agustín Moreno made it clear this Friday in a message on social networks:” And Almeida continues to be determined to end Madrid Central with a new ordinance that expands the number of vehicles that circulate in Central Madrid ”.
Also the PSOE will vote no, as explained by the spokesman for the environment of the municipal group, Ignacio Benito. In his opinion, the new regulation “continues to prioritize cars over people”, in addition to “ignoring that pollution claims the lives of 2,000 men and women from Madrid every year.” “Central Madrid worsens and falls very short” with regard to Plaza Elíptica, the councilor settled. The PSOE will present partial amendments, but will reject the whole of the norm.
However, both groups take for granted the support of Recover Madrid to the ordinance, despite the fact that the circumstances would allow the left to pressure the PP and Ciudadanos in the brief amendment process that is now opening. This is what Manuela Carmena herself requested last Thursday during one of her speeches on Cadena Ser. The former mayor, who has disassociated herself from the transformation of Más Madrid into a party and has acknowledged that the break with Podemos was not a good idea. 2019, said that “the project of the new Central Madrid is a shame.”
“Road traffic limiting elements have been shaved off and cut, we must do everything possible so that Madrid Central can once again be everything it used to be, the city needs it,” he added. And he settled: “I hope the left agrees and convinces the mayor that they cannot carry out these cuts.”
It does not appear that the former mayor’s wish will be fulfilled. His words have fueled the division between Más Madrid and Recupera Madrid, whose positions are increasingly distant, both politically and personally. From the municipal group that Maestre leads, the split councilors have been accused of being “turncoats.” Councilor Jorge García Castaño said on Twitter: “I hope Almeida is not considering, or as an option, creating an illegal mixed group in exchange for support for the mobility ordinance.”
In the interview with elDiario.es Calvo denied that they had negotiated their support for the municipal ordinance in exchange for support from the PP and Ciudadanos for their attempts not to go to the non-affiliated group, where their political work would be reduced to almost zero, after breaking with Más Madrid. A matter that is currently in court and that should also be resolved at the turn of the summer.
Aware of this disunity, Almeida launched a conciliatory message with the left on Friday and declared himself “ready to negotiate with everyone.” Except for a change in the strategy that goes along the lines of what Manuela Carmena pointed out, the disunity of the three progressive groups will make a common front impossible that could force the current mayor to introduce changes. Almeida has gone from criticizing Central Madrid and the limitation of the use of the car to defending that the EU forces to implement these types of restrictions.
The city is facing a judicial process in Europe for excessive pollution, something that the delegate of Environment and Mobility, Borja Carabante, blamed this Friday largely on the fumes of combustion vehicles. In addition, Madrid has fallen from position 8 to 16 in the ranking of most polluted cities that publishes the magazine Monocle. It is the position in which it was in 2015, when Now Madrid took over the Mayor’s Office.
Carmena has in Recupera Madrid those who were his most faithful allies during his tenure, starting with Higueras, who was his right-hand man even before he made the leap into politics; Felipe Llamas, his chief of staff at the Palacio de Cibeles; or Luis Cueto, political nephew of the former judge and general coordinator of the Mayor’s Office during his term.
From Más Madrid the words of Manuela Carmena this week are interpreted as a disavowal of hers. But the position of the four split councilors does not seem to have moved, according to their statements. The clock for a hypothetical common strategy is ticking and has a deadline: until September 10.