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Alternative left wins Barcelona elections by a close margin and government formation is uncertain

The alternative left coalition Barcelona en Comú, led by activist Ada Colau, has won the municipal elections in the Catalan capital by a close margin. The green and post-communist coalition has obtained 11 representatives, far from the 21 seat absolute majority, and governing will depend on the forming of a coalition. Colau defined her victory as that of "David against Goliath". She also stressed her commitment to Catalonia's right to self-determination. The centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, which was holding the mayoral office, has gone from 14 to 10 seats. The anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C's) will enter the City Council for the first time, having obtained 5 seats. The social-democrat independence party ERC has also obtained 5 seats, 3 more than in 2011. The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) has gone from 11 to 4 seats. The People's Party (PP) has gone from 9 to only 3 representatives. The radical independence and alternative left party CUP will also sit on the City Council for the first time, with 3 seats.

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25 May 2015 01:15 AM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The alternative left coalition Barcelona en Comú, led by civil society activist Ada Colau, has won the municipal elections in the Catalan capital by a close margin. The green and post-communist coalition has obtained 11 representatives in the 41-seat City Council, far from the 21 seat absolute majority and the governing of the city will depend on the forming of a coalition. Colau emphasised her will to become the next Mayor of Barcelona, defining her victory as that of "David against Goliath", and the "victory of the common people". She stressed the win's "democratic revolution" and her commitment to Catalonia's right to self-determination. The centre-right pro-Catalan State coalition CiU, which was holding the mayoral office, has gone from 14 to 10 seats. Another major shift is the rise of the anti-Catalan nationalism party Ciutadans (C's), which will enter the City Council for the first time, having obtains 5 seats. The social-democrat Catalan independence party ERC has also obtained 5 representatives (it previously held 2 seats). The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which ran the city government between 1979 and 2011, has gone from 11 to 4 representatives. Another party which has seen a major drop in its number of representatives is the People's Party (PP), which runs the Spanish Government. The PP has gone from holding 9 seats in the Catalan capital to only 3. Finally, the radical independence and alternative left party CUP will also sit on the City Council for the first time, with 3 seats.


Major change in Barcelona. For the first time in the current democratic period an alternative left force has won the municipal elections, although it did so by a close margin and was very far from obtaining an absolute majority. The Catalan capital has a long tradition of left-wing governments, which ran the city from 1979 to 2011. However, they were all led by the social-democrat PSC. The Green Socialist and post-Communist coalition ICV-EUiA was part of them in the 1990s and 2000s, but held secondary government responsibilities. Now, the ICV-EUiA is likely to enter the city government once again, since the coalition it formed with alternative left parties not present in the City Council, and many of which are relatively newly founded, has won the elections. Barcelona en Comú has obtained 11 seats.

It is led by Ada Colau, who became famous for her work as the leader of the civil society association 'Plataforma d'Afectats per la Hipoteca' (PAH), which was working to stop home evictions. Colau formed the platform Guanyem Barcelona around a year ago and gradually integrated further parties into her political project, building the Barcelona en Comú coalition. The ICV-EUiA supported her, as well as the alternative-left party at Spanish level Podemos, the small green party Equo, the pro-independence and anti-capitalist party Procés Constituent and the citizen democracy party Partido X.

"A democratic revolution"

"We said it was possible, and we have proved it" were Ada Colau's first words in public after the victory was announced. It is the victory of "the common people", "the victory of David against Goliath" she said in her first speech after the results. According to her, what happened this Sunday is "a democratic revolution in Catalonia, in the whole of [the Spanish] State, and, we hope, in the whole of Southern Europe".

"I want to be the next Mayor of Barcelona", she emphasised. In fact, her coalition is the largest force in the next City Council, but the absolute majority is set at 21 seats and, considering that Colau has 11 seats, she will need further support in order to either form a stable government or to run the city with a minority government with 'ad hoc' support from other parties. In any case, all the parties have committed themselves to respect the winner and allow them the possibility of trying to form a government and gain the office of mayor.

The CiU focuses on the next Catalan Elections

The current Mayor, Xavier Trias, openly accepted he had lost the elections and congratulated Colau. Trias promised "a constructive opposition". He thanked his team and the support received and regretted not having won the Catalan capital, as it would have been very important for the next Catalan Parliament elections, scheduled for 27 September. These elections will be a 'de facto' referendum on independence by many parties and citizens, as they are the only way left for many Catalans to exercise their right to self-determination after two-and-a-half years of the Spanish Government ignoring all democratic claims and saying no to everything, rejecting any talk on organising a mutually-agreed referendum. In this vein, Trias ended his speech by stressing that "now we have to win Catalonia".

The President of the Catalan Government and CiU leader, Artur Mas, appeared next to Xavier Trias during his speech accepting the electoral results. Mas talked after Barcelona's incumbent Mayor and emphasised that now the CiU has to focus on Catalonia, the self-determination process, and the next elections. Mas recognised that, after their first victory in Barcelona in 2011, they had the objective to revalidate this win, as a very important step for September's election. Mas regretted not having reached this objective but he highlighted that the main objective was achieved: the CiU has won once again the municipal elections in the whole of Catalonia.

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  • Ada Colau in her first speech after the electoral results (by ACN)

  • Ada Colau in her first speech after the electoral results (by ACN)