Barcelona Mayor to submit to vote of confidence after failing to pass 2017 budget

Barcelona’s Mayor, Ada Colau, will have to submit to a vote of confidence after the opposition blocked the budget presented by the local government for 2017. All the opposition parties except from the Catalan socialists (PSC), with whom the executive has an agreement, voted against the new accounts in a committee on Tuesday. Colau said this Wednesday that she is “not afraid” of a vote of confidence, but stated that “there is still room to reach an agreement” and to avoid it. In this vein, the mayor stressed her will to “seriously take into account all the arguments and proposals made” by the opposition to improve the budget that will be voted on on the 23rd of December. If Colau loses this vote, the opposition will have a month to submit a vote of no confidence - which will need to be supported by at least 21 councillors (absolute majority) to force her out. 

The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, at a press conference on the 16th of November 2016 (by ACN)
The Mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, at a press conference on the 16th of November 2016 (by ACN) / ACN


November 16, 2016 07:11 PM

Barcelona (CNA).-The Mayor of Barcelona, former left activist Ada Colau, will submit to a vote of confidence before Christmas, after the opposition rejected on Tuesday to pass the budget for 2017.  The centre-right pro-Catalan State Coalition Convergència i Unió (CiU), left wing pro-independence party ERC, Catalan Conservatives the People Party (PPC), Spanish Unionist Ciutadans (C's) and the radical left CUP voted against the initial approval of the accounts. The Mayor signed this Wednesday the decree that opens the period for amendments to the budget and the final vote will take place on the 23rd of December.Colau stated her will to listen to the arguments which have arisen, but stressed that she is “not afraid” to resort to a vote of confidence. If she fails the vote on the budget in December, the opposition will have a month to submit a vote of no confidence - which will need to be supported by at least 21 councillors (absolute majority) and put forward an agreed alternative Mayor candidate - to force her out. If this does not happen, the budget will automatically be approved at the end of January 2017. 

The new accounts were rejected in a committee on Tuesday with 15 votes in favour and 26 against. The local government, in a situation of minority despite the agreement of last May with the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), has been cornered in the last plenary sessions in regards to major economic decisions in the city. Indeed, the opposition made Ada Colau withdraw its proposal of fiscal ordinances just a few days ago and has now also expressed its disagreement with the budget drawn up by the government for 2017. This is the first budget proposal ever presented by Colau’s team, as the accounts for this year were an extension of the previous Barcelona Mayor, Xavier Trias’ budget for 2015.

Colau believes there “is still room to reach an agreement”  

The mayor made a last call to the opposition to avoid what she called the “last resource”, which is linking the new accounts to a vote of confidence. In this sense, she promised to “seriously take into account all the arguments and proposals made” by the opposition because, in her opinion, “there is still room to reach an agreement”.

In a press conference, the mayor criticised some groups for giving priority to “party interests ahead of city ones”, in reference to ERC. “All of us as Councillors have been elected by citizens to put the city ahead of any partisan interest. Citizens are very tired of bickering and the city has many emergencies and many opportunities and cannot be paralysed” due to the lack of a budget, she stated.  

The vote of confidence, not what the local government “would have preferred”  

Barcelona’s first Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, said on Tuesday that the local government would have preferred to negotiate the budget, instead of opting for a vote of confidence. Pisarello accused the opposition of “taking the decision” to vote against the accounts before even seeing the figures and stated that Barcelona’s executive has to be “as non-doctrinaire as possible and open spaces of dialogue for everybody”. Pisarello also recalled that the law allows the vote of confidence so that City Councils do not remain blocked, as they do not have the power to dissolve and call elections.

“If it is necessary for a vote of confidence, I will submit to it. I’m not scared. I'm not here to worry about my chair or to perpetuate myself”, said Colau in a similar vein, and stressed the fact that without a budget the city “can be stopped”.

CiU accuses the City Council of playing the “martyr” role

The deputy spokesman of CiU, Sònia Recasens, accused the municipal government of wanting to give the image of “a martyr” and to assess the opposition as “a devil”. “We know what you are up to, you had no desire to negotiate with the opposition, at least not with CiU. You preferred to be alone and isolated and not agree with the largest group of the opposition”, she complained.

The leader of C’s in City Hall, Carina Mejías, labelled the rejection of the budget a “resounding failure” of the government, which she attributed to its “deeply undemocratic and stagnant attitude of refusing dialogue”.

ERC Councillor Alfred Bosch said it is the government who is forcing ERC to vote against the budgets because they do not comply with the agreements signed previously. Bosch also pointed out that 98.3% of ERC members in Barcelona endorse the rejection of the accounts because they “share the distrust arising from the lack of compliance”.

PPC rejects a budget that contains “all the axioms of the more radical left”

The conservative councillor Javier Mulleras criticised the budget of the municipal government because it contains “all the axioms of the more radical left”, as it includes high taxation, an increase in debt and in the cost of the administrative and bureaucratic apparatus, including those funds spent on advertising and propaganda.

CUP Councillor Josep Garganté stated that the local government cannot ask for more “acts of faith” and remarked that the executive “has become what it came to fight”.  “The mayor has certified her political and social isolation”, Garganté said. “You cannot count on us, neither for the initial approval of budgets nor in the vote of confidence" the politician concluded.