Over the past two decades, much has been discussed about the role of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) for international communication. Little attention has been paid, though, to its implications for political discourse in public. More specifically, how local attitudes -the overhearer effectusing Bell’s (1984) influential audience design framework- may be expressed as scorn or embarrassment. This process of delegitimization of public ELF use can be triggered by what is perceived as an inadequate (i.e. non-native speaker) use of English. More generally, not speaking English has become a matter of overt political criticism in the Spanish media and the Spanish public alike. In our paper, we intend to present instances of this role of English as a source of political legitimacy, synonymous to political competence. We will also present instances of ELF being the source of political trouble for Spanish politicians. We will compare the attitudes towards the English spoken by Ana Botella, former mayor of Madrid and that spoken by Esperanza Aguirre, former president of the Madrid regional government. This comparison will reveal the interplay among the native/non native divide, intelligibility, local attitudes towards the national standard and their transfer to the ELF arena. The relevant theoretical implication is that, at least in public discourse, ELF use is mediated by the attitudes of a local community, which is otherwise absent from the communication process itself. On a more general level, we will try to show how ELF presents sociolinguistic patterns which are similar to those of language varieties rooted in a native speech community.