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Manuela Carmena
Manuela Carmena Ahora Madrid 2015 - by Felix Moreno (cropped).jpg
Manuela Carmena in 2015
Mayor of Madrid
In office
13 June 2015 – 15 June 2019
Deputy Marta Higueras
Preceded by Ana Botella
Succeeded by José Luis Martínez-Almeida
Member of the City Council of Madrid
In office
13 June 2015 – 17 June 2019
Member of the General Council of the Judiciary
In office
26 July 1996 – 7 November 2001
Personal details
Born (1944-02-09) 9 February 1944 (age 80)
Madrid, Spain
Political party Más Madrid (since 2019)
Other political
PCE (1965–1981)
Ahora Madrid (2015–2019)
Eduardo Leira
(m. 1967)
Children 2
Alma mater University of Valencia
  • Judge
  • lawyer
  • politician

Manuela Carmena Castrillo (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈnwela kaɾˈmena kasˈtɾiʎo]; born in 1944) is a retired Spanish lawyer and judge who served as Mayor of Madrid from June 2015 to June 2019. She was a member of the General Council of the Judiciary.


Early life

She was born on 9 February 1944 in Madrid, in the area near the Dehesa de la Villa. Both sides of her family had a background in small business: her father Carmelo (a native of Toledo) ran a shirt shop at the corner of Gran Vía and Chinchilla Street in central Madrid. Her mother, meanwhile, worked as a cashier. She attended the French School of the Black Ladies. During her time as a student, Carmena served as voluntary worker in a preserves factory run by the Servicio Universitario del Trabajo.

After graduating in law in 1965 from the University of Valencia, she became a legal representative of workers and detainees during the Francoist State and was co-founder of the labour law office where the 1977 Atocha massacre took place.

Carmena, who joined the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) in 1965, married architect Eduardo Leira in 1967; they have had two children: Eva and Manuel. She ran as a candidate in the PCE list for the 1977 general election in the constituency of Madrid. She had left the party by 1981.

Judicial career

After passing public examinations to become a judge, she started her judicial career in January 1981. As a judge she began an almost solitary fight to prevent corruption in existing courts. In 1986 she received the National Human Rights Award. She was a founding member of the progressive association Judges for Democracy. Judge of Penitentiary Vigilance and head of the Penitentiary Vigilance Court No. 1 of Madrid, she was elected senior judge of Madrid in 1993. She was appointed as member of the General Council of the Judiciary (proposed by United Left) and served from 1996 to 2001.

Activity after retirement

Manuela Carmena en la Jornada sobre Justicia Transicional (San Sebastián, 17 de octubre 2013) 03
Carmena in 2013

After retiring from the judiciary in 2010, Carmena moved on to become a member of the Patronato de la Fundación Alternativas, a think tank with ties to the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), and whose members included the former Socialist prime ministers Felipe González and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Carmena was Chair-Rapporteur of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and as such, she has visited Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Nicaragua and South Africa, among other countries. In September 2011, Carmena was appointed advisor to the Patxi López cabinet of the Basque Government in the area of assistance to victims of police abuse.

Carmena Castrillo founded the supportive cooperative "Yayos emprendedores" (literally, "entrepreneur grannies"), which manages a small retail business selling children's games, clothing and shoes made by prisoners at the Alcalá de Guadaira jail in Seville.

Mayor of Madrid

Investidura de Manuela Carmena como alcaldesa de Madrid, opr Elvira Megías 01
Carmena in the plenary chamber of the City Hall, the day she became Mayor.

Carmena headed Ahora Madrid's ticket in the Madrid local election held on 24 May 2015. After Ahora Madrid made a coalition deal with the PSOE, Carmena was elected as Mayor on 13 June 2015, obtaining the votes of 29 out of 57 councillors and thereby winning a narrow majority.

Carmena reduced Madrid's municipal debt by €5.6 billion (or 38%) in the first 18 months of her mayorship. In this same time period, Carmena also managed to increase social spending by 26%, which led to an investigation by the opposing People Party's Treasury minister in order to examine Madrid's compliance with Cristóbal Montoro's national spending regulations. This feud between the national Ministry and the municipal Department of Economy and Finance forced Carmena to sack Carlos Sánchez Mato from his position as councillor in December 2017. Also in the first half of her mandate, the ayuntamiento organised several public consultations in order to decide on issues, opening up public input on part of the municipal budget as well as on a project for the revitalisation of the Plaza de España. The council's executive board also changed 52 street and place names hanging over from the Francoist dictatorship which did not comply with the 2007 Law of Historical Memory.

Carmena ran for re-election in the 2019 municipal election, but stated that she would retire from the City Council should she not be re-elected as Mayor. In November 2018, the political platform for Más Madrid was unveiled, with Carmena at its centre. In the municipal election held on 26 May 2019, Más Madrid was the most-voted party, obtaining 19 seats in the plenary assembly, but on 15 June 2019, the People's Party's mayoral candidate José Luis Martínez-Almeida, with the support of Citizens and Vox, earned the vote of an absolute majority of councillors (29 out of 57 councillors) and was elected as Mayor. On 17 June 2019, Carmena resigned from her councillor seat.

Since June 2019

In January 2021, she complained that, "We are infected with lies regarding reality. It is very difficult to develop correct policies for a deformed reality. One of the issues we must consider is how to combat the systematic lies that deform the social reality."

Electoral history

Electoral history of Manuela Carmena
Election List Constituency List position Result
Spanish general election, 1977 (Congress of Deputies) PCE Madrid 23rd (out of 32) Unelected
Madrid municipal election, 2015 Ahora Madrid - 1st (out of 57) Elected
Madrid municipal election, 2019 Más Madrid - 1st (out of 57) Elected


  • ESP St Raymond of Penyafort Order GC.svg Great Cross of the Order of St. Raymond of Peñafort (2002)
  • Great Cross of the Order of the Sun of Peru (2015)
  • Great Cross of the Order of Merit (2018)

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Manuela Carmena para niños

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