municipal politics

Barcelona City Council removes bust of King Juan Carlos from chamber

Symbolic move in contravention of law requiring image of the monarch in all such areas Removal of work coincided with visit of new Spanish king, Felipe VI, to the Catalan capital

The bust of Juan Carlos I is removed on Thursday.foto: massimiliano minocri | vídeo: atlas (atlas)

A bust of former Spanish King Juan Carlos I was removed from the Barcelona City Council chamber on Thursday, as part of a review of iconography of the monarchy in the city. The initiative has come from the new mayor of the Catalan capital, former social activist Ada Colau.

“There is an inflated symbolism relating to the monarchy, which is in contrast to the under-representation of other citizen traditions that are more appropriate in this city,” explained the deputy mayor, Gerardo Pisarello, and the councilor in charge of Historical Memory affairs, Xavier Domènech. The pair also announced on Thursday a study to evaluate changes to other elements relating to the monarchy, both in terms of municipal buildings and place names.

We still don’t have a bust of Felipe VI,” municipal sources told EL PAÍS

In a scene that had a hint of comedy to it, at 6.41pm on Thursday two municipal technicians climbed up a metal ladder to bring down the 34-centimeter bust of Juan Carlos, which was created by Swiss artist Charles Collet in 1976. As a courtesy to the TV cameramen and press photographers covering the event – which had a clear political overtone, in a region that is struggling for its independence from Spain – the removal was carried out twice.

The removal of the bust coincided with a visit made on Thursday by Spain’s new king, Felipe VI, to the city.

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Pisarello did not confirm where the bust of Juan Carlos would be sent. “It’s possible that it will go to the Barcelona Museum of History,” he explained. Under a 1986 law, all council chambers must have an image of the reigning monarch, whether it’s a painting, photo or a bust. For now, though, there is no sign of an artwork depicting Felipe VI going up in the Barcelona City Council. “We still don’t have one of him,” municipal sources told EL PAÍS.

The new mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, is a social activist who rose to national prominence during the economic crisis as the head of the PAH grassroots movement, which fought against home evictions. She soared to victory in May at the municipal elections at the helm of a coalition called Barcelona en Comú, which includes the leftist and green parties Initiative for Catalan Greens, the Republican Left of Catalonia (ERC), United and Alternative Left, Podemos Barcelona, Procés Constituent and Equo.

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