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Barcelona's most likely next mayor, leftist Ada Colau, validates offer to renew Mobile World Congress

Ada Colau, who leads the alternative left and green coalition Barcelona en Comú, is very likely to become the Catalan capital's next Mayor, with there not being enough ground on which to build an alternative majority. Colau won Sunday’s elections by obtaining 11 seats in the 41-seat City Council, just 1 seat more than the incumbent Mayor from the centre-right pro-Catalan State Coalition CiU, Xavier Trias. In the last days, the People's Party – which runs the Spanish Government – and some economic powers have been pressuring for the building of an alternative majority led by Trias. However, the essential parties involved do not support the idea. In order to facilitate her election, Colau has cleared up any doubt surrounding her fully supporting the continuing of the Mobile World Congress, the world's main event of the mobile phone-related industries, which will take place each year in Barcelona until 2018. Colau has validated the offer prepared by Trias' team to extend the organisation of the congress until at least 2023.

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28 May 2015 10:33 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The possibility of Ada Colau, who leads the alternative left and green coalition Barcelona en Comú and won last Sunday's municipal elections, of becoming the next Mayor of the Catalan capital is increasing,  with there not being enough ground on which to build an alternative majority. Colau won the elections by obtaining 11 seats in the 41-seat City Council; a slight majority, just 1 seat more than the number of representatives obtained by the incumbent Mayor and re-election candidate from the centre-right pro-Catalan State Coalition CiU, Xavier Trias. During the campaign, all parties committed themselves to respect the most-voted candidate and allow him or her to have the initiative to gather support and be elected Mayor. However, the People's Party – which runs the Spanish Government – and "some economic powers" – according to Colau – have been pressuring in the last days for an alternative majority led by Trias. However, some of the essential parties involved do not support the idea. This facilitates Colau's election as Mayor, and in order to facilitate things, Colau has cleared up any doubt surrounding her fully support the continuing of the Mobile World Congress, which is the world's main event of the mobile phone-related industries and which takes place each year in Barcelona. Colau has validated the offer prepared by Trias' team to extend the organisation of this important congress beyond the current agreement that expires in 2018 and continue hosting the event until at least 2023.


This Thursday there has been a story developing all day about whether an alternative majority around the incumbent Mayor Xavier Trias could be built in order to stop Ada Colau and the leftist Barcelona en Comú from running the Catalan capital's town hall. In order to be elected Mayor, any candidate has to obtain at least 21 votes in the City Council or, after losing a few initial votes, be elected by a simple majority, which means the candidate receives more votes than those opposing his or her election. Ada Colau has 11 seats secured and she is already holding talks with 3 other left-wing parties (who have a total of 12 seats between them) to gain their support, either for the election vote or to form a broad left-wing government.

However, the current Mayor disclosed in the morning that the PP would offer him the possibility to facilitate his re-election as Mayor if there was a majority that could stop Colau from taking office. Trias explained that such a majority would necessarily involve the social-democrat Catalan independence party ERC and the Catalan Socialist Party PSC, which have 5 and 4 seats each. In the morning, he said he would study this possibility and that he could not fully rule it out, despite during the campaign having said that the winner of the elections should be elected Mayor and during Election Night having congratulated Colau and said that she would be the next Mayor of Barcelona.

A few hours later, Trias and Colau held a meeting, which had been scheduled before this announcement. The meeting was to talk about the transition of power and the current main projects of the city. After the talk, Colau stated that throughout their conversation, Trias considered her to be the next Mayor. "During the conversation, [the current Mayor, Xavier Trias] assumed at all times that I will be the next Mayor on 13 June and, in fact, I insist: today the transition commission is already meeting in order to make the transfer of powers between the incumbent government and the new one", she said.

Furthermore, she referred to the possibility of an alternative majority trying to stop her from being the next Mayor. "What Xavier Trias has told me, in an honest way, is that the initiative has not come from him but from outside, in particular from the PP and some economic powers of the city, and that the only thing he said was that, if there were a majority of councillors asking him to be the mayor, he should respond to that majority", said Colau. "However, he understands that it will not be this way. [He also understands] that we have won the elections and that he and the other political parties said during the campaign that the most-voted candidate would be the one in charge of forming the next government; and he still thinks the same", she added. Colau concluded that "taking into account that we will be capable of forming a government, and that it is already happening, since we have already started talks, he assumed that I will be the next mayor".

Almost at the same time, the ERC's candidate for Barcelona Mayor, Alfred Bosch, whose 5 seats feature in both Colau's and Trias' majorities, ruled out the possibility of reaching an agreement with the Spanish nationalist and conservative PP. "We will not make a deal with the PP that aim to reach an unnatural agreement and knock down the winner of these elections", he said. "It doesn't fit into our mind set; we believe it is unreasonable and that it lacks common sense. Somebody saying that we are going to reach an independence deal in Barcelona thanks to the PP’s support cannot be understood by anyone; we do not understand it and I think that Xavier Trias doesn't understand it either", he emphasised.

In parallel, the PP's leader in Barcelona, Alberto Fernández Díaz, was also nuancing his proposal, since the majority Trias had in mind was including the pro-independence ERC. "I will not rule out alternative majorities because they are possible and I will not back any majority or any alternative that goes beyond the following limits: not being anti-establishment, not carrying the independence flag, not having a Barcelona run and led by Ada Colau, from the most radical left-wing, the most extreme one, nor having a Barcelona that becomes the capital city of the independence movement", he said.

After all these statements, a few hours later, sources close to Xavier Trias stated that the current Mayor has not completely ruled out the possibility of gaining enough votes and being re-elected. The condition is being able to form "a strong" government. However, they also admitted it is not the most likely option and that Colau has the right to try to form her own majority and try to be elected Mayor. According to these sources, Trias did not tell Colau that she will be the next Mayor of Barcelona, but that she has a greater chance than the rest, although she is not the only option as there are other possible majorities.

Colau supports the Mobile World Congress

In any case, in order to smooth things over and show her commitment to the main projects of the city and the boosting of the economy, Colau announced that she is validating the offer prepared by Trias' team to renew the organisation of the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona until at least 2023. All the parties were supporting this offer before the elections, but it is significant that Colau has also given her explicit support. She also said that she is looking forward to meet, once she is Mayor of Barcelona, with the MWC organisers in order to talk about ways in which the city and the event can collaborate in a greater way, in order to improve the experience and also extend the use of mobile technologies and the benefits of its applications to all the neighbourhoods of the cities and to a broader range of people.

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  • Xavier Trias (left) and Ada Colau (right) on Thursday at Barcelona Mayor's office (by ACN)

  • Xavier Trias (left) and Ada Colau (right) on Thursday at Barcelona Mayor's office (by ACN)
Barcelona's most likely new mayor is Ada Colau