The last few weeks have been key in the pre-election minute and result in Barcelona, ​​a historical bastion of the left in Spain. The announcement of the candidacy of former mayor Xavier Trias for Junts completes the frieze of mayors of the four parties that add up to 33 of 41 councillors.

For ERC, repeats Ernest Maragall, who won the elections by 4,700 votes, but tied with the mayor Ada Colau in 10 councillors. The commons preferred the PSC as a partner in the government and now the socialist Jaume Collboni will try to take over the mayor’s office. Colau will opt for a third term to, in his words, “consolidate the transformation of the city.” And it is precisely the model of the city of the commons, the Superilla Eixample, its flagship project, with less asphalt and cars.

Colau boasts that his Superilla (superblock) project has aroused the interest of 250 cities around the world and he defended it in autumn at the mayors’ summit in Buenos Aires (Argentina). But in the last plenary session of the year, on December 23, 2022, the opposition in full (and also its PSC partners), urged the mayoress to review it. With less or greater belligerence. The PSC has already warned that if it wins the elections, it will “slow down, digest, and study” the conversion of one in three streets in Eixample, the central district, into “green axes.” Collboni assures that he is “in favor of pacifying and reducing pollution”, but he wants a greater consensus in the face of the complaints of some merchants and carriers who suffer from the works when distributing and do not see the project as clear. Full on, The third deputy mayor of the PSC and current person in charge of mobility, Laia Bonet, denounced that superblocks create imbalances: “It generates first and second class streets and neighborhoods and breaks the logic of equity.” Bonet summarized: “Some streets improve, traffic and pollution are reduced, while in others it increases. All the traffic and pollution that does not pass through one accumulates in the other”.

BComu was left alone in plenary defending the superblocks. The deputy mayor for Urbanism, Janet Sanz (BComu) criticized the change in position of the left-wing parties, PSC and ERC, and accused them -for not supporting superblocks- of defending “denialist and retardist policies”. According to Sanz, both Socialists and Republicans have joined the Junts proposal, believing they can obtain electoral gains. “They can take this proposition, to the plenary session, as many times as they want to stop Superblock Barcelona but they will not change reality. The reality is that it is a model that works, and the data and reports show it. Pollution drops by 30%, neither moves nor increases; and small business sales increase”, defended Sanz.

Trias sees it as “outrageous” that the chamfers that characterize the cut corners designed by Ildefons Cerda are lost with the model. And he goes further, he says that if he were mayor he would consider stopping the works to join the two sections of the tram along the Diagonal, another great plan by Colau. Of the almost four kilometers that separate the two existing sections, next year two will be finished, and another two will be missing; and Trias assures that in no case will the union end. ERC, in turn, asks that any pacification be done “with consensus, a global strategy and betting on public transport” and the tram questions its management.

In the term that ends, Colau put aside the idea of ​​implementing an urban toll against pollution, due to lack of social and political support, although neighborhood and environmental entities have put a proposal on the table to put pressure on; and it is the only party that in 2021 flatly rejected the expansion of the El Prat airport (ERC initially put itself in profile and now rejects it too). Faced with criticism of their transformation policies, the commoners ask what the alternative is: what would the rest of the parties do to reduce pollution or fight the climate emergency.

The irruption of Trias in the electoral race has an air of revenge (it was Colau who beat him in the only term in which the old CiU has governed the Catalan capital) and supposes a shake up of the board. Because he opens the door to new alliances, such as sociovergence. Until Tuesday, the electoral dispute pointed to a tie between the commons, PSC and ERC. The first two have been partners in the government and the third, their ally in big votes, such as budgets. It remained to be seen who broke the tiebreaker and had the best chance of being mayor. With the veteran politician (Trias is 76 years old), the picture changes: although his party only has five councilors out of 41 and, initially, it does not compete with the candidates Maragall and Collboni, it has set itself up as a lightning rod for discontent with Colau’s management and explicitly calls for socialist and republican voters. Trias, in addition, vindicates the legacy of Convergence (there are three party advisers on his list) and avoids references to Junts and the independence movement. The party’s logo did not appear in his presentation as mayor, nor in the video launching the candidacy.

Among those who oppose the mayoress’s policies are motor vehicle employers and the most fervent defenders of private cars to travel anywhere, carriers (because of the impact of their reforms on traffic); restaurateurs (a very belligerent sector despite the fact that since the pandemic they have practically been forgiven the terrace fee); hoteliers (the hotel plan prevents new establishments from being made except in the periphery); or businessmen who share the opinion of the employers’ association Fomento del Trabajo that the commons hinder economic activity and mobility. And he also has opponents on the left, from entities or neighbors who reproach him for not doing enough in the face of challenges such as housing or pollution.

As in most institutions, in Barcelona City Council monocolor governments have gone down in history and the parties that compete for the electorate are condemned to govern in coalition. Or the mayors to do it suffering in a minority. The hardest years of the independence process blurred the traditional left-right political axis, and the national axis was the prime criterion for building alliances. In May 2023, in Barcelona, ​​the panorama is open again and variety has re-entered arithmetic.

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