POLLS open this morning to elect the 136 members of the Madrid Assembly amid speculation that the election will affect more than just the Spanish capital – and could push Spain’s politics further to the right.

Isabel Diaz Ayuso took over as regional leader of the right-wing People’s Party (PP) two years ago and governed the community in coalition with the Citizen’s Party.

The 42-year-old’s style has been described as “Trumpian” with claims that overnight traffic jams in Madrid are part of the city’s cultural identity, and that nobody has died from its air pollution. Her leadership during the pandemic – which claimed almost 15,000 victims – has been criticised by many. Despite this, it is still felt that Ayuso could double the PP’s seats in the Madrid Assembly, as well as trigger the loss of all the Citizen’s seats.

This poll – and the Holyrood election – are being viewed with interest by some Catalan media, which say they could alter the board game for Catalan indy.

The Catalan daily VilaWeb said Brexit and Boris Johnson’s erratic management of the pandemic pushed supporters of an indy Scotland to record numbers, which had been consolidated by pro-indy groups who had consistently polled above 50% for almost a year. It said: “In the country of continuous analogy with Catalonia, where independence seems closer than ever, independence can reach a historic majority, but it can also begin to crack by personal and strategic discrepancies.

“The situation is very different from the last election, in May 2016. There was still a month to go before Brexit … in addition, the independence leadership had passed into the hands of Nicola Sturgeon after the resignation of Alex Salmond.”

It said the goal now was to secure a pro-indy majority that makes indyref2 inevitable: “Sturgeon’s strength has been challenged in recent months by her rivalry with Alex Salmond, her predecessor in office.

“Aside from a very bitter personal confrontation … the former First Minister has founded a new party, Alba, which may open a crack in Sturgeon’s SNP hegemony. Apart from the SNP and Alba, there is a third pro-independence party [Scottish Greens] that has rather little representation.”

El Nacional said the big question was whether the SNP will have a majority on its own or would need support from others. It said: “Among pro-independence activists, the differences are based on the methods proposed to achieve their end: Alex Salmond, who disputes hegemony over the SNP, believes that ‘the national movement in Scotland is bigger than a single party’ and seeks a plural parliamentary majority … Nicola Sturgeon, however, aspires to be the only voice of independence.”

VilaWeb said it was possible that should Alba’s results be “insignificant”, or if the SNP achieves an absolute majority, it could be interpreted as Scots rejecting Salmond’s route to indy, which could start a Johnson-Sturgeon negotiation that could be lengthy.

“The position of the Greens, moreover, is much more consonant with that of Sturgeon,” it added.

“However, within the SNP itself a growing sector has pressured Sturgeon to process a referendum without the permission of London because they believe it has a legal place.

“It is an uncertain path in any case, which Sturgeon has admitted with many nuances, and which runs the risk of bankruptcy if the Johnson administration amends the law … or if the English courts say that the option is invalid.”