On May 22, there will be municipal elections across Spain and Zapatero’s ruling socialist government is mentally bracing for how bad things can go. Last November’s elections to the Catalan parliament was a enormous success for the parties to the right of center (CiU and PP) and the polls published so far clearly show that the trend will continue.
One of the hardest blows for the socialists will be that CiU’s Xavier Trias almost certainly will take over as mayor of Barcelona - a municipality which has always been governed by PSC during the 32 years since Spain became a democracy. The Catalan capital does, of course, have the greatest symbolic value, but CiU is fighting to make the "change that has begun" reaching further than that.
Together with Reus, Terrassa and Manresa, the town where I live, Vilanova i la Geltrú, forms up a group of relatively populous towns where a change of power is within reach. In all honesty, until recently I did not think that this would be possible. We have to remember that in the 2008 elections to the Spanish Parliament, PSC won over 50% of the vote here. But that was back then. Is there one single person who would claim that Zapatero has since managed to increase confidence in the Spanish version of democratic socialism?
The 2010 electionsrevealed how the support for PSC and their partners in the former Catalan tripartit government (ICV-EUiA and ERC) has collapsed and Vilanova is no exception. In 2006, the three parties between them received 54.23% of the votes while, last year, that figure had slumped to 36.68% (-17,55 percentage points).
True, Catalans tend to vote differently in municipal elections than in other ones. However, CiU’s candidate, Neus Lloveras, does not need to win a majority to be elected mayor - it is sufficient for her if the tripartit which still governs in our town does not take half of the council seats. Similar to how CiU is now acting in the Catalan Parliament, she can be able to govern by seeking support from different other parties, depending on the issue.
A voter intention poll commissioned by CiU does in fact suggest that this is the most likely scenario after the coming elections. Neus Lloveras has lived a big part of her life abroad and might be relatively new in local politics since she comes from private enterprise, but she does stand a real chance of becoming Vilanova's first female mayor.
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This text can also be found in a Catalan, Spanish and Swedish version.
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Sources and Inspiration:
Gencat.cat: Election results
WiV 2008: Reasons to celebrate
Diari de Vilanova - print version - February 11, 2011