Ms Ayuso recalled the advantage obtained by reopening the economy early to reduce regional taxes on businesses to zero and attract investment from all over Spain to the capital. Almost one in four businesses created in the country this year have started in Madrid, Ms Ayuso saying she is channeling a “cultural, political and economic renaissance” in the city.
“If Madrid are not free, it is no longer Madrid. All I have done is let Madrid be Madrid,” she said. “There is a Madrid way of life, and it is about being in the streets and following your dream.”
Madrid only became the richest region in Spain three years ago, taking advantage of instability in Catalonia. This primacy has been rooted in Ms Ayuso’s free market policies, which she says are radical but insist they are not indifferent.
She accepts that the first lockdown, in March of last year, was the right thing to do “because we didn’t know what we were dealing with.” But now his government has pledged to “test, test, test” to deal with any future increases, as well as monitoring levels of Covid incidence through an early warning system based on the wastewater analysis.
Madrid has suffered greatly, with more than 6,000 of its 16,000 dead among residents of nursing homes in the first wave.
Ms Ayuso’s first response included a poorly thought out plan to use private ambulances to service care homes, which led to accusations of favoritism because the owner of the business was a family member of a senior political official of the PP. She recently used her majority to cut short an investigation into the disaster led by Madrid’s regional parliament.
Despite those difficult days, she said she never doubted her decision to end the lockdown was the right one.
“I received an unprecedented level of pressure, both politically and in the media. I was insulted and called a murderer,” she said. “But time has shown that I was right because we were clear about what we were doing. Since the regions took back control of the health situation, infections in Madrid have decreased.
âIn the beginning, in the UK, action was taken late after a period of no decision being made. Then it seemed to go the other way and there was a change in approach. We haven’t strayed from our path. “
As it stands, the strategy is working. Madrid’s current cumulative seven-day infection rate is 67 per 100,000 population, compared to a national average of 92.