Left activist Ada Colau wins Barcelona mayor, traditional parties lose support across Spain

Left-wing activist Ada Colau, who won the May 24 Barcelona mayoral elections, with Podemos leader Pablo Iglasias at a May 9 elec

Popular left-wing activist activist Ada Colau has won Barcelona's May 24 mayoral elections. Running on the ticket of Barcelona Together, which united several left groups and grassroots activists, Colau came first with 25% of the vote.

The May 24 regional elections across the Spanish state resulted in losses for Spain's traditional parties and big gains for new parties, including the leftist Podemos and center-right Ciudadanos, TeleSUR English said that day.

The right-wing People's Party (PP), which governs nationally, lost its majorities in several cities -- as did the main opposition party, the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE). Both have dominated Spanish politics since the end of Franco's dictatorship 40 years ago. TeleSUR English said the PP Party was on course to get its worst result in countywide municipal elections since 1991, with 80% of the vote counted.

The PP won most votes nationally, with 26%, but this is down about 10 points on 2011 elections. It and the rival Socialists looked likely to fall short of overall majorities in most areas forcing coalitions with minority parties in the 13 of Spain's 17 regions that voted on Sunday.

“It's a drubbing for the PP. The fear factor did not come into play and people voted for Podemos and Ciudadanos," pollster Jose Pablo Ferrandiz told Reuters.

Subtitled speech by Ada Colau

Colau's win in Barcelona is a dramatic gain for the left. She is a highly respected former spokesperson for the powerful Mortgage Victims Platform (PAH) movement. Barcelona Together's party affiliated were Initiative for Catalonia-Greens (which held five seats in the old council), the United and Alternative Left (EUiA, the Catalan sister party of the all-Spanish United Left), Podemos (which is not standing in its own name), Equo (the all-Spanish greens party), and Constituent Process.

Colau said on her win: "The common people, the ordinary citizens, who usually have not had political power, economic, judicial, media power... we had a historic opportunity and we have taken (it)". TeleSUR English said she called the win a new "victory of David against Goliath".

TeleSUR English said: "In Madrid, the PP ruling party appears to have won 21 of the 57 seats in the city council just ahead of ​Podemos-backed coalition Ahora Madrid ('Madrid Now') on 20 seats. The Socialists came third with 9 seats and will determine who governs in the capital. The PP has run Madrid since since 1991."

Podemos leader Pablo Iglais told a cheering crowed of the one-year-old party's gains on the evening of Mary 24: "This is a magic night. It is a historical night in Spain which points directly to change. It is a matter of pride for us to be the engine for that change. We think this spring of change is irreversible and it is going to take us to the month of November when we will take on the challenge to win the general election.

"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. We are amazed by confirming today that every time polls open in this country, the number of our supporters only grows."

Speaking to TeleSUR English, Podemos activist Jacobo Garcia said the success of new parties like Podemos and the centre-right Ciudadanos represented a major break with the country's two-party system, amid corruption scandals, economic stagnation an record-high unemployment running at almost 25%. Support for Podemos is based on anger at the retrenched "political caste" and austerity policies.

Like the article? Subscribe to Green Left now! You can also like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

If you like our work, become a supporter

Green Left is a vital social-change project and aims to make all content available online, without paywalls. With no corporate sponsors or advertising, we rely on support and donations from readers like you.

For just $5 per month get the Green Left digital edition in your inbox each week. For $10 per month get the above and the print edition delivered to your door. You can also add a donation to your support by choosing the solidarity option of $20 per month.

Freecall now on 1800 634 206 or follow the support link below to make a secure supporter payment or donation online.