Madrid maverick defies Spanish government's limits on energy use
Madrid's regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a maverick populist who refused to implement COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic, has squared up to the Spanish government yet again, this time on EU-wide energy saving measures.
Madrid's regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a maverick populist who refused to implement COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic, has squared up to the Spanish government yet again, this time on EU-wide energy-saving measures. The head of the central region, one of Spain's wealthiest, said in a series of tweets on Monday and Tuesday the measures approved by the cabinet would "generate insecurity and scare away tourism and consumption".
The plan, which includes temperature limits for businesses, museums, and public transport as well as restrictions on street lighting, was approved after the European Union agreed on July 26 to cut gas use by 15% in August-March to save up for an uncertain winter threatened by supply cuts from Russia. The EU agreement involved a wide range of exemptions, however, and opposition at a regional level could compound problems with its implementation.
The Spanish measures, published in the official gazette on Tuesday, have to be implemented in seven days, after which those in breach would face fines of 100-30,000 euros ($102-$30,700). "This won't be applied in the Madrid region. Madrid does not go dark," Ayuso wrote. "Before closing, banning, shutting down, why not talk to citizens and administrations as adults and ask them to cooperate based on clear criteria?"
Ayuso, from the conservative People's Party, has locked horns with the leftist minority coalition government during most of the pandemic, defying measures to contain the virus with her own, much more permissive, strategy for Madrid. "We are used to this type of response from Ms. Ayuso, she always shows a lack of solidarity and selfishness," Economy Minister Nadia Calvino told Cadena Ser radio on Tuesday, arguing that the energy-saving measures are compulsory for the regional governments.
Also known as "the Iron Lady of Madrid", Ayuso won the 2021 regional election by a landslide after she allowed stores, restaurants and nightclubs to remain open during the pandemic to protect businesses. ($1 = 0.9770 euros)
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