Five days out from Catalan election housing issues to the fore
Broad support for reintroduction of social housing decree overturned by Spain's Constitutional Court
With five days to go until the Catalan election on Sunday, February 14, several parties have been laying out their positions on housing policy, with much discourse on the campaign trail about social housing, rent caps, evictions and tourist lets.
Catalunya en Comú–Podem (CatECP) have proposed that public and social housing should make up 15% of housing in Catalonia by 2030.
The left-wing party, agnostic on the issue of Catalan independence, says the 15% figure should be implemented in every local council area, in order to ensure that social housing is distributed evenly across Catalonia.
Speaking at an event on housing in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat on Tuesday, Joan Carles Gallego said that housing policy "can be done differently" and that the first step is to "think of housing as an essential good," rather than a market commodity.
Policies are needed "to ensure that 15% of housing is public and to be proactive with housing issues, so that the sector is not regulated by the market," he added.
"Impunity for criminals"
CatECP's housing policies, and those of the Catalan government, were criticized by Jordi Cañas, of Ciudadanos (Cs), the unionist party whose support has dwindled since they topped the poll in the last Catalan election.
"The Catalan government and Barcelona council's policies over the past few years have made our neighborhoods more dangerous and given rise to absolute impunity for criminals," Cañas said at a campaign event in the Raval neighborhood of central Barcelona.
Cañas promised that his party will return illegally occupied houses to their owners, especially where houses are occupied by drug traffickers.
Broad support for social housing law
Most political parties have pledged to support a law that would, in one way or another, replace the social housing decree that was overturned by Spain's Constitutional Court.
During an electoral debate on housing organized by the Tenants' Union and the housing activist group PAH on Monday, Esquerra (ERC), Junts per Catalunya (JxCat), CatECP, PDeCAT and CUP explicitly endorsed such a move, while the Socialists and Cs did so to a certain degree.
Representing JxCat, Elena Fort gave her commitment to make the new law "a priority and with the consensus of everyone."
Jose Rodríguez of ERC criticized the Spanish government for not bringing forth regulation and said the decree would be revived in law "from the first minute of the legislature."
From PDeCAT, Marc Rodés, called for a return to the "spirit of unanimity" that allowed the decree to be passed in the first place, while CUP's Maria Sirvent said her party would defend the law in parliament and on the streets.
The Socialists' Rosa Maria Ibarra said current regulations should be modified for a better "constitutional legal fit," with Cs Sonia Rodríguez adding that it was "very problematic" if government decrees weren't made to be "legally secure." The People's Party, meanwhile, said any laws passed must "fit the constitutional framework."
Protest in Barcelona
On Saturday some 1,300 people (according to local police, organizers claim there were 3,000) gathered in Barcelona to protest against the suspension of the social housing decree that had been approved by the Catalan parliament.