IN A SIGNIFICANT VICTORY for the Spanish left, anti-austerity activist Ada Colau has been elected Mayor of Barcelona.
Colau told the media: "“It’s a victory for David over Goliath.”
She dedicated her victory to "the common people, the ordinary citizens, who usually have not had political power, economic, judicial, media power..."
Colau rose to national prominence after calling a representative of the Spanish Banking Association “a criminal” while speaking at a parliamentary hearing on the housing crisis in February 2013.
She leads a grassroots coalition of several left wing political parties and thousands of citizens and activists. Barcelona En Comú (Barcelona In Common) ran on a platform of returning decision-making in the city to the people, promising to do away with home evictions, increasing public housing and redistributing the city’s wealth.
Colau told supporters that "never again should there be first and second-class citizens in this city".
Colau’s party won 11 of the 41 seats on the city council, meaning that she will need to form alliances in order to govern.
Elsewhere in Spain the left wing is also in ascendance. In Madrid, the conservative People’s Party has a tenuous hold on power in a city where it has dominated for two decades. The Podemos-backed coalition, Ahora Madrid (Madrid Now)came a close second.
The strong showing of the left wing coalitions in Madrid and Barcelona mean that the agendas of Spain’s two largest cities will largely be set by the priorities of the left wing parties.
With general elections due by the end of the year the message of the local and regional elections is clear: the two-party dominance that has characterised Spanish politics since the death of Franco is rapidly drawing to a close. The Spanish people have firmly rejected the austerity polices that both establishment parties have implemented and defended.
"This is a magic night. It is a historical night in Spain which points directly to change," Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos party told cheering crowds on Sunday. "The story of the end of bipartisan politics in Spain begins to be written today. Parties in power have had one of the worst results in their history...every time polls open in this country, the number of our supporters only grows.”