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PP chooses controversial former Mayor to run in Catalan elections, despite his xenophobic statements

The conservative People's Party – which runs the Spanish Government – has chosen Xavier García Albiol, whose statements have been called xenophobic by many, to top its candidature for the next Catalan Parliament elections and run for President of the Catalan Government. García Albiol, who was Mayor of Badalona between 2011 and 2015, will replace the leader of the PP's Catalan branch, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, who is currently involved in a dirty political espionage case. A few weeks ago it was said that the PP would stick with Sánchez-Camacho to run in the next Catalan Elections, scheduled for 27 September and likely to be transformed into a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence from Spain. However, after the rest of the main parties chose new faces to top their candidatures, the PP is doing the same and has picked García Albiol, who lost Badalona's mayoral office in May, despite being the most voted candidate, as he was unable to achieve an absolute majority.

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28 July 2015 09:53 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The conservative People's Party – which runs the Spanish Government – has chosen Xavier García Albiol, whose statements have been called xenophobic by many, to top its candidature for the next Catalan Parliament elections and run for President of the Catalan Government. García Albiol, who was Mayor of Badalona between 2011 and 2015, will replace the leader of the PP's Catalan branch, Alícia Sánchez-Camacho, who is currently involved in a dirty political espionage case. A few weeks ago it was said that the PP would stick with Sánchez-Camacho to run in the next Catalan Elections, scheduled for 27 September and likely to be transformed into a 'de facto' plebiscite on independence from Spain. However, after the rest of the main parties chose new faces to top their candidatures, the PP is doing the same and has picked García Albiol, who lost Badalona's mayoral office in May, despite being the most voted candidate, as he was unable to achieve an absolute majority.


After the news about his candidature was released, García Albiol stated he will be the candidate "of all those who feel Catalan and Spanish" independently, whether they are federalist or pro the current Autonomous Community model, he said. In fact, despite representing the more extreme faction of the PP in Catalonia, García Albiol said he aims to represent people who vote other parties or who support a deep constitutional change transforming Spain into a true federal country. Furthermore, he also attacked the leader of the Spanish nationalist party Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera, who has been very present on Madrid-based television shows for the last year and who will be running for Spanish PM. As opposed to Rivera, García Albiol said he is "committed" to Catalonia and will stay here, instead "of leaving for Madrid to get applause at Catalonia's most complicated moment".

The PP candidate stated he will become "the surprise of the 27 September elections". "We are running to win the game", he stated, underlining that he has "never lost an election". Indeed he was the most voted candidate for Badalona's Mayor in both the 2011 and 2015 municipal elections, but failed to obtain an absolute majority. In 2011 he became Mayor, with it being the first time that the PP held a mayoral office of such importance in Catalonia, where this party obtains only between 10% and 15% of the vote. In 2015, he was again the most voted candidate but many other parties united to stop him from becoming Mayor again and he lost the office.

García Albiol is famous for his direct style and for using immigration as a political tool in a working-class town with a high percentage of foreigners. Before becoming Mayor in 2011, he said that the Roma people living in Badalona were "a plague that has only come to commit felonies". Indeed, in the 2011 campaign, he and Sánchez-Camacho distributed an extremely controversial leaflet, which associated immigration with crime statistics. They were brought to court for the leaflet but in the end the judge withdrew the charges. In the 2015 elections, García Albiol's main electoral banners read "Cleaning up Badalona", a statement that many people related to immigration. In another Catalan town in Greater Barcelona, Rubí, the PP also issued a controversial electoral banner saying "Those from home, first", which was the exact same motto used by the marginal xenophobic and Spanish nationalist party Plataforma per Catalunya in the 2011 municipal elections.

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  • Xavier García Albiol (right) this Monday (by R. Garrido)

  • Xavier García Albiol (right) this Monday (by R. Garrido)