Trias, from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition CiU, becomes Mayor of Barcelona, ending 32 years of Socialist leadership

A similar change happened in Girona Town Hall, where Carles Puigdemont, also from CiU, also became the first non-Socialist Mayor in the last 32 years, since the restoration of democracy. Barcelona and Girona Town Halls were constituted later than all the rest because of appeals regarding the electoral vote and the number of elected councillors. These two Mayoral offices consolidate CiU’s hegemony in Catalonia, after last May's municipal elections and after last November's Catalan Parliament elections.

CNA / Gaspar Pericay Coll

July 2, 2011 07:01 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- This Friday has been an historical day for Barcelona and Girona City Councils. For the first time in the last 32 years, for the first time since the return of democracy, Barcelona and Girona will have non-Socialist Mayors. Last May 22nd the candidates from the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition ‘Convergència i Unió’ (CiU) won the elections, however without an absolute majority. Both Barcelona and Girona had been run continuosly in the last 32 years by a Mayor from the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which is going through difficult times and is facing an identity and leadership crisis. From this Friday July 1st Xavier Trias is the Mayor of Barcelona, substituting Jordi Hereu, who has run the city since September 2006. Hereu was the fourth Socialist mayor of Barcelona, after Narcís Serra, Pasqual Maragall and Joan Clos. Trias was elected with the support of the 15 votes from CiU plus the 2 councillors from ‘Unitat per Barcelona’ (UpB), a pro Catalan Independence Coalition with former FC Barcelona’s President Joan Laporta and the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC). ERC had historically given its support to the PSC in Barcelona’s City Council and had been part of the municipal government. However, over the last four years, ERC was part of the opposition, although at Catalan Government level it formed a coalition with the PSC. Trias is an experienced politician, who was part of CiU’s past governments under Jordi Pujol’s leadership. In his acceptance speech the new Mayor stated that they are “available to build a large consensus, complicity and alliances”. He has decided to run the municipal government with a minority, although he could count on the support from UpB or from the Conservative Catalan People’s Party (PPC).

In Girona, in a similar situation to Barcelona, Carles Puigdemont became the new Mayor, substituting Anna Pagans. The Socialist Party has run the city over the last 32 years, first with Joaquim Nadal as Mayor and then with Pagans. Puigdemont is a journalist and has run for mayor once before.

Xavier Trias, a doctor in politics

Xavier Trias, who is a doctor, had been Catalan Minister for Health, as well as Minister for Presidency, acting as the Catalan Government’s spokesperson in the 1990s. In addition, he was CiU’s main candidate at the Spanish Elections in 2000 and was the group’s spokesperson at the Spanish Parliament. In 2003, he switched to municipal politics and became CiU’s candidate for Mayor of Barcelona. He did not win, and neither did it in 2007. 2011 was his third attempt, and he succeeded. CiU won 15 councillors, although the absolute majority is 21.

Trias referred in his first speech as Mayor to his relationship with the Catalan Government, run by the same party. Trias stated “I will be a demanding mayor with the Catalan Government’s policies, with national loyalty, but working to get all the investment and services that the Catalan capital requires”. In a reception in honour to the new mayor given at the Catalan Government’s palace, which is in front of Barcelona Town Hall, the Catalan President Artur Mas asked for institutional loyalty but “not obedience”.