The price of the 4-M hecatomb: PSOE, Podemos, Vox and Cs face a millionaire bill | Elections in Madrid 4M

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The Citizens' candidate for the Presidency of the Community of Madrid, Edmundo Bal, embraces the president of the party, Inés Arrimadas, on May 4, 2021.
The Citizens’ candidate for the Presidency of the Community of Madrid, Edmundo Bal, embraces the president of the party, Inés Arrimadas, on May 4, 2021.Alejandro Martínez Vélez (Europa Press)

Misfortunes never come alone, not even in politics. The big losers in the regional elections of 4-M have had to pay a millionaire bill for their defeat, not being able to cover their electoral expenses with the subsidies obtained for each deputy and vote added. Ciudadanos, who was left without representation in the Assembly, has had to cover 1,018,854.60 euros of justified expenses for Edmundo Bal’s campaign with their own resources, according to a report by the Accounts Chamber. For Vox, the hole has been 742,679.20 euros, which it has faced with its funds and 20,000 euros in private donations. The PSOE, which sank to the worst result in its history (24 deputies), has not recovered 622,256.31 euros for the same reason. And Podemos, 347,914.55. Just the opposite of the PP and Más Madrid, the great winners of that electoral night, who have managed to recover everything invested.

It is not the last replica of the earthquake Díaz Ayuso, who for six months has governed with the support of the 65 deputies of the PP – four of the absolute majority – and negotiating law by law with the 13 of Vox. On the contrary. In their effort to compete with the PP, which declares more ordinary expenses than any other party (2,119,107.59 euros), the rest of the formations forced the machine. Most, in fact, incurred expenses that the House does not now see justifiable as electoral. Speaking in silver: they cannot be paid with grants.

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Does that mean that the parties have done the same thing as in the 2019 elections, when the same supervisory body made them ugly that they passed invoices corresponding to parking lots, meals, surveys …? You are right. History repeats itself. And these are some examples highlighted by the Chamber of Accounts.

  • PSOE. Advertising out of time. The Socialists have presented 135,555.60 euros in expenses that the Accounts Chamber does not consider electoral, since 121,924.96 corresponded to advertising issued before the start of the campaign; and 13,630.62 to the rental of premises and audiovisual media for voting day. In total, the Socialists reached up to 1,856,108.43 euros in ordinary expenses. The result was not as desired: the candidate, Ángel Gabilondo, resigned from the act; and the regional secretary general, José Manuel Franco, left office, opening an internal crisis from which the training with Juan Lobato as a new reference is now trying to emerge.
  • More Madrid. Polls. The same occurs with 41,962.55 euros of the expenses of Más Madrid, since they were used for advertising after the campaign (13,552), to rent premises before it started (15,830.73), or to carry out surveys (9,335, fifteen). In addition, one of the proof of expense, amounting to 2,968.77 euros, does not meet the requirements to be considered an invoice. Seldom, if anything, was more done with less. Thus, the team of Mónica García, current leader of the opposition, declares 338,814.75 euros of expenses in his campaign, despite the fact that the subsequent result would have given him the right to recover 1,104,955.47 through electoral subsidies per deputy and vote added.
  • Vox. Radio spots. Vox is not allowed to pay expenses of more than 15,000 euros with the subsidy, which include radio spots prior to the start of the electoral fortnight (325 euros), electoral tracking (12,100), or the surveillance of a local (3,868, 64 euros).
  • Citizens. Transport of journalists. The supervisory body disfigures Bal’s party a bill of 4,950.02 euros for the transfer of journalists. The formation will recover the 577,875.38 euros spent on sending electoral propaganda.
  • We can. A single but. The purple party is informed that the electoral nature of a bill of 1,270.65 euros is not considered justified.
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All these accounts show that the organization of an electoral campaign has something of a blind bet for the parties. The Community of Madrid subsidizes the electoral expenses of the formations that have exceeded 3% of the votes. Once this requirement is exceeded, each force obtains its due according to the votes it has added (1.01 euros for each one), and the seats it has achieved (19,981.18 euros for each one). In parallel, the sending of electoral propaganda is also subsidized (0.22 per voter), a section in which no party has exceeded the planned spending limit.

The consequence of the system is that it forces the strategists of each formation to an exercise in which desire and reality collide: they must adjust what they spend on the campaign to the result that they believe they will obtain fifteen days later at the polls. A calculation full of dangers, and that this time it has been due to the majority of parties.

In addition, the Chamber of Accounts has detected “internal inconsistencies” in the accounts that Vox has presented to justify the electoral expenses of the 4-M campaign. Although the supervisory body gives its final approval, it points out two points that it does not consider correctly resolved. The first: the account of several creditors in balance presents a balance of 672.72 euros, and in the General Ledger it presents a balance of 29,372.40. The second: there is a difference of more than 10,000 euros between the non-bank checking account of the balance sheet and the breakdown of party contributions.

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“The financial statements presented by the different candidates are adapted to the Accounting Plan adapted to the Political Formations, although they present some accounting errors that are indicated in each case, and, regarding Vox’s accounting, lack of internal consistency”, he concludes the supervisory body, to which work will soon accumulate again. In less than two years there will be elections again.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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