Political fray

Cádiz mayor gets last-minute bridge opening invite after exclusion criticism

Leftist leader had accused conservative government of “great institutional disloyalty”

Cádiz Mayor José María 'Kichi' González.
Cádiz Mayor José María 'Kichi' González.r. r. / EFE

Hours after he had publicly criticized the conservative Popular Party (PP) government for not inviting him to the opening of a major bridge in his constituency this week, Cádiz’s leftist Mayor José María Kichi González was on Monday formally asked to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

González had accused Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s central government of “great institutional disloyalty” for not inviting him and the mayor of nearby Puerto Real, Antonio Romero, to Thursday’s inauguration of the second bridge to cross the Bay of Cádiz.

The 1812 Constitution Bridge is not a PP bridge” Cádiz Mayor José María Kichi González

González, of the Por Cádiz si se Puede formation, which is backed by anti-austerity party Podemos, said he learned about the scheduled ceremony through the media and accused the PP of using the event as an early rally for the general election, which is expected to take place in December. Nevertheless, González said he and Romero would both be at the inauguration whether they were invited or not.

“Rajoy is forgetting that the people of Cádiz are not campaigning, and that the 1812 Constitution Bridge is not an election campaign ploy,” the Cádiz mayor said.

Sources in the Public Works Ministry said the ceremony’s date was decided late Friday afternoon and that there had not been sufficient time to extend invitations to both mayors.

At a cost of €500 million – which represents an overrun of more than half of its original budget – the 1812 Constitution Bridge is the most expensive infrastructure project undertaken by the Rajoy government. The bridge, which joins Cádiz and Puerto Real, was originally scheduled to be completed by 2011 after work got underway under then-Socialist Public Works Minister Magdalena Álvarez in 2007.

“The PP is trying to turn an opening that ought to be for the whole city of Cádiz into a early election campaign rally for the party.”

“The 1812 Constitution Bridge is not a PP bridge. It is a bridge that had the strong support of citizens at a time of crisis,” González said, adding that city officials would now be on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

For his part, the PP secretary general in Cádiz, Antonio Saldaña, had clarified on Saturday that city officials would be invited to the inauguration.

“It is unfortunate that the mayor is using the second bridge as a point of confrontation with the national government when he knows that the infrastructure project is the result of the effort of all Cádiz citizens,” Saldaña said.

González came to power after defeating former PP Mayor Teófila Martínez in May’s municipal elections.

English version by Martin Delfín.