“I am not particularly intelligent, nor powerful, I’m just an ordinary person, and that’s what frightens them most,” said the future mayor of Barcelona in a BBC profile. In these elections Spain has taken a step towards the realization of a decent society led by a battalion of ordinary persons. The voters and the people have struck back. The post-modern, post-transition deal is openly challenged. In the constitution it says you have the right to housing. But you don’t; only the bank has rights. So, who is Ada Colau? She is what she says she is: an ordinary citizen with decent values, just like the often silent majority of the people in this country, with the courage to stand up for what she believes in. She is the spokesperson for the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, an organization which protests against evictions and offers legal advice and moral support to people who have been evicted, or are facing eviction from their homes for mortgage default. Starting from there and with the help of an army of citizens and a political alliance of progressive groups (the British press like to call them leftist) the umbrella group calling itself Barcelona en Comú became the most voted party at the council elections this Sunday past, winning 11 seats from 41, and given the split in the vote between different parties, if she can reach a deal with other progressive forces, the Catalan nationalist left parties of Esquerra Republicana and the CUP, and the Catalan Socialist party, there should soon be a left wing government in Barcelona’s town hall.
In Madrid the alcaldesa in waiting, Manuela Carmena, has already met with the legal authorities in the capital to try to work out some sort of urgent plan to help those affected by eviction. She’s not mayor yet. She needs to reach an agreement with the Spanish Socialists, the PSOE, to gain office. Her grouping, Ahora Madrid, won 20 seats, the PP 21, and the PSOE 9 seats (Cuidadanos won 7, they are a new group that has tried to project themselves as a centrist party but have attracted many people from right wing groups and the Spanish press always associates with possible pacts with the PP). I saw Manuela on one of Spain’s most watched political entertainment programmes, El Intermedio, the other night and I thought I would like her to give me a cuddle. She’s 71, a former judge, and is even up for forgiving her enemies. Her rival in Madrid was Esperanza Aguirre and anyone on the left in Spain was celebrating her defeat with champagne. It was better than Mellor, sweeter than Portillo. Manuela said she would like to speak to her soon to tell her that she forgives her for all the terrible things that Aguirre said about her during the campaign. As a judge, she said, she believes in rehabilitation. A wonderful ironic sense of humour to boot. I really wish she was my granny! Unfortunately, Aguirre is not for cuddling up, she said yesterday , according to Público newspaper, that she would be willing to stand down if the PSOE and Cuidadanos can reach a deal with the PP to keep out Podemos and save Western Civilization: “(Ahora Madrid) are a Trojan horse party to break the Western democratic system.” That’s what she said. Maybe she’ll have to do a course before being rehabilitated.
Another treat was to witness the end of PP rule in Valencia to people power, both in the autonomous parliament and in Valencia city itself. For as many years as I can remember Valencia has been mired in chocking suffocating levels of corruption. So many cases that you would have to spend your whole life updating your knowledge and awareness. However, as sapping as it is, this was one of the main issues in these elections, apart from, obviously, the never-ending economic crisis, the high unemployment, the scandalous level of youth unemployment (no country for young men), the food banks, the creeping police state laws, but, above all, the corruption. On Sunday nights La Sexta TV channel shows a programme called Salvados which has long aired many of the most important issues facing Spain in a fearless way. And there is one episode which sums it all up for me. The presenter, Jordi Évole, goes to Denmark to investigate how they do things up there and in the street they ask passers-by about cases of corruption in Denmark. Nobody could name even one. Not one single case! Back in Spain the same question and all respondents could name without breaking sweat six or seven at the very least. The CIS, Centro de Investigaciones Sociológicas, which produces monthly snapshots of polls and surveys of opinions on the political climate, in April listed corruption as 48.6% in the top three problems facing the country, unemployment was 81.5% and in third place was general economic problems on 26.9%. Here’s a select choice: Gürtel, Púnica, Barcenas, las targetas negras in Bankia, the Palau de la música scandal, ex-president of Valencia Camps’ suits, Nóos, EREs in Andalusia. Wow, that’s just off the top of my head, and the list goes ever on …….. I don’t have the time or the energy to go more into depth, but wait, I have an idea …. Good old Wikipedia. Read all about it:
At the local elections the people were not fooled and the ruling PP lost over two million votes and the Convergència in Catalonia over a hundred thousand. It won’t be easy for the new parties and with general elections around the corner in November we can only hope that this change in direction holds for the future and can be built on. Ada Colau says she is going to provide school meals for all children in need and cut the subvention to the Montmeló grand prix racing track outside Barcelona. Shock, horror. Maybe it is the end of civilization as we know it. A projection in El País newspaper based on the municipal elections for November’s generals has the PP losing 54 seats, down to 132, and leaving the way open to an alliance of the left with PSOE on a possible 119 and Podemos on 16 (they didn’t stand everywhere so the percentage could be far greater) and the Catalan Left on 10. Of course, that is after the plebiscitary elections for the Generalitat in Catalonia planned for September on the question of independence for Catalonia. This is obviously the elephant in the room in Spanish politics and the pro-independence parties increased their percentage of the vote. It’s going to be a long hot political summer in Spain and Catalonia to say the least.