Socialist mayors appointed in Lleida and Tarragona, pro-independence coalition in Girona

None of the parties leading the three cities reelected, as far-right enters the three councils for first time

Lluc Salellas with the mayoral baton shortly after being elected mayor of Girona
Lluc Salellas with the mayoral baton shortly after being elected mayor of Girona / Xavier Pi
Guifré Jordan

Guifré Jordan | @enGuifre | Barcelona

June 17, 2023 12:56 PM

June 17, 2023 03:31 PM

Three out of the four regional Catalan capitals already have new mayors for the 2023-2027 term, and in all cases the party leading the new local governments is different than that of the last term.

While the Socialists will lead solo governments in Lleida and Tarragona, the pro-independence bloc will share the cabinet in Girona.

Girona: pro-independence bloc will share government

Indeed, on Saturday morning, the opening plenary session in the Girona council elected Lluc Salellas as mayor – he is the leader of Guanyem, a local party adhered to far-left pro-independence CUP.

This is the result of an agreement sealed on Friday among the three pro-independence parties, also including Junts and Esquerra.

It is the first time in Girona that a party not coming first in the election ends up earning the mayorship – the Socialist Party won the vote, but will stay in opposition.

Right after being elected, the incoming mayor Salellas said his government will be committed to fight "for the full sovereignty" of Catalonia.

"Some people will say that this is a partial government, but it will be strong, with an absolute majority of councilors backing it."

He also said that the three-party cabinet will bring "change and transformation."

Junts led the government in the past term, with Marta Madrenas as mayor – yet, she did not run again in the election, and her successor, Gemma Geis, came third in the vote.

Lleida: Socialists return to power with Fèlix Larrosa as mayor

In Lleida, Esquerra no longer has the mayoral post – the Socialists clearly won the local election and their frontrunner, Fèlix Larrosa, was appointed as mayor on Saturday afternoon.

The western Catalan city have been led by the Socialists for 36 out of the 44 years since democracy was restored and, after four years in opposition, the left-wing unionist party recovered the power.

Meanwhile, the outgoing mayor, Esquerra's Miquel Pueyo, did not accept the council seat he won in the election after his party's poor results and quit politics.

Upon swearing in, Larrosa said that reaching consensus will be "difficult" but doable – his government will be a minority one, so he will need to reach deals with other forces to get his initiatives approved.

During his sppech, he pledged to work hard and promote dialogue with the opposition in order to become "a trigger for transformation."

Tarragona: Socialist Rubén Viñuales to govern solo

In Tarragona, the capital of southern Catalonia, the Socialists will also govern solo, after the Socialist bidder, Rubén Viñuales, garnered enough support in the opening plenary session.

Once member of unionist Ciudadanos, he will take over the city after four years of Esquerra's leadership – Pau Ricomà, the outgoing mayor, recently said that he will quit politics in the coming months.

"I will govern for everyone, I am well aware I have no absolute majority," said the newly elected mayor during the session. "We will work for what unites us, and not what sets us apart."

Far-right Vox enters the three councils for the first time

Far-right Vox gained council seats in all three cities for the first time, with three representatives in Tarragona, two in Lleida and one in Girona.

The party got three seats across Catalonia four years ago, but it grew exponentially to surpass 100 in the May 28 election.