Madrid election debate turns into a farce

by Deborah Cater
Madrid election debate chaotic

MADRID – At an election debate aired on Cadena SER radio, Unidas Podemos candidate Pablo Iglesias walks out after Vox candidate Rocío Monasterio calls his honesty into question.

A debate descended into chaos yesterday (Friday 23rd April) as Pablo Iglesias of left-wing Unidas Podemos party walked out before the event had barely started. He chose to leave after right-wing Vox party candidate Rocío Monasterio refused to retract statements she had made doubting Iglesias’ honesty regarding death threats he said he received.

“If you are so brave, get up and leave”

Earlier in the day, Monasterio voiced her opinion on state radio RNE regarding the integrity of Pablo Iglesias. She said, “I condemn all kinds of violence, but I would have liked for them to have condemned what we suffered in Vallecas […] And well, I believe little of what Pablo Iglesias says, and I think that all Spaniards, every time that we hear Pablo Iglesias say something, we call it into question because he has deceived us vilely over this last year.”

When it came to his turn to speak at the Cadena SER debate, Iglesias asked Monasterio to retract her accusation. It was all in reference to an incident where Iglesias, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska and the head of the Civil Guard received threatening letters accompanied by bullets.

However, Monasterio refused to back down. While she repeated her condemnation of all violence, she said to Iglesias, “If you are so brave, get up and leave.”

Iglesias did just that.

Activist or Democrat?

The decibels rose as the politicians protested. Presenter and mediator, Ángels Barceló tried in vain to gain control of the situation. As Barceló attempted to get Iglesias to return to the fray, Monasterio unleashed another volley.

Asking whether Barceló was “a moderator or an activist? Holding [Iglesias] by the hand, the political activist,” was only beginning of her attacks on those present. Barceló replied, “I’m not an activist, I am a democrat!”

cogesa expats

Later in the show, Monasterio told Más Madrid’s Mónica García to “wipe the sourpuss look” off her face. García responded, “You are an accumulation of a lack of respect and manners!”

Monasterio continued to dominate with raised voice and interruptions. Even when the debate was terminated early, and Barceló was trying to make closing statements, Monasterio demanded to speak again, claiming “This is the dictatorship of [Cadena] SER!”

Other candidates present

The other candidates present were: Ángel Gabilondo of the Socialist Party (PSOE), Edmundo Bal from center-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) and Mónica García from leftist Más Madrid. The candidate for the conservative Popular Party (PP), incumbent Isabel Díaz Ayuso, opted not to participate after all six politicians appeared earlier this week in a televised debate on regional station Telemadrid.

Monasterio was admonished by the other politicians for her behaviour. “Are you doing so badly in the polls that you need to put on this little display?” asked García. “To have to bring out the hatred and lies?”

Gabilondo criticised the Vox candidate’s “provocative attitude”. Meanwhile, Bal demanded Monasterio condemn the violence, and called on Iglesias to return to the election debate.

After a commercial break, Ángel Gabilondo asked to leave the debate. “I’ve stayed here out of respect for democracy,” he said once back on air. “But we cannot allow for hatred to take root among people”. García backed the calls to end the debate, while Bal “begged” them to stay.

Más Madrid subsequently announced it will no longer take part in any election debate ahead of the polls. The elections are being held on May 4th.

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