Leftist governments take shape in cities and regions across Spain

Popular Party set to lose its decades-long grip over the Valencian region, Madrid and Cádiz

Longtime Valencia mayor Rita Barberá is leaving after over 20 years in office.
Longtime Valencia mayor Rita Barberá is leaving after over 20 years in office.JOSÉ JORDÁN

Spain’s swing to the left, evidenced by the results of the municipal and regional elections of May 24, is beginning to take shape.

Following a flurry of cross-party negotiations triggered by the fragmented political scenario that emerged from the ballot, at least three major Spanish cities will now be run by leftist forces after decades of conservative rule.

The Valencian government will be a shared government, by all and for all”

Ximo Puig, Valencian Socialist leader

The Andalusian city of Cádiz is set to get a mayor from Por Cádiz Sí Se Puede, a bloc whose members include the anti-austerity party Podemos. After securing the support of the Socialists, José María González Santos, aka Kichi, will oust the long-serving Teófila Martínez , of the Popular Party (PP), who had enjoyed five absolute majorities over the last 20 years.

Martínez still managed to get the most votes this time around, earning her party 10 council seats, but the Socialists chose to add their five councilors to the Podemos brand’s eight. The investiture deal will not be carried forward into a ruling coalition, however, as the Socialists have said they will remain in the opposition.

In the city of Valencia, acting mayor Rita Barberá of the PP on Friday announced she was giving up her councilor’s seat in a move that saves her from handing the baton over to Joan Ribó, of the regional party Compromís, who is set to become the new mayor with support from the Socialists and Valencia en Comú. Barberá, a controversial figure, had been mayor for over two decades.

José María González Santos, aka ‘Kichi’ (right), will be the new mayor of Cádiz.
José María González Santos, aka ‘Kichi’ (right), will be the new mayor of Cádiz.Román Rios

Meanwhile, in Madrid, Manuela Carmena of Ahora Madrid, another newly formed, Podemos-supported bloc, is set to become the next mayor of the Spanish capital after clinching a deal with the local Socialists.

In this case as well, the Socialists will remain in the opposition after helping Carmena into the mayor’s seat. But they stand to gain some extra power since Carmena plans to bolster the city council’s powers at the expense of the local executive.

Details of the deal will be revealed later on Friday, but what is clear is that the PP is losing its grip over Madrid after 24 years of uninterrupted rule. Here as well, the conservative candidate, Esperanza Aguirre, had managed a narrow victory at the polls, but the Ahora Madrid-Socialist alliance adds more councilors.

At the regional level, the PP is bracing to lose another major conservative stronghold: the Valencian region will be ruled by a leftist coalition comprising the Socialists, Podemos and the regional party Compromís.

On Thursday, their leaders signed a document pledging to “end the social emergency situation and lay down the foundations for a new Valencia.”

The deal does not specify who will be the regional premier yet. “Soon there will be a government of change,” said Mónica Oltra, of Compromís. The Socialist Ximo Puig added that the future Valencian government “will be a shared government, by all and for all.”

And in Andalusia, which held its own early regional elections on March 22 but had been premier-less ever since, the Socialist Susana Díaz finally got herself invested on Thursday after securing the support of emerging party Ciudadanos.

“I extend my hand to all parties, to those who voted for me and to those who did not,” she said following the investiture session.

Díaz added that there is “a lot of work to do” after more than two months of political gridlock. Some of her earliest measures will deal with university grants and housing policy.

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