THANKS TO A last-minute deal, the Socialists took power in Barcelona City Hall on Saturday, despite a pro-independence candidate having won the most seats at the May 28 local election. 

As a result, Jaume Collboni of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) became mayor of the Catalan capital, thanks to the votes of smaller parties in the chamber as well as the conservative Popular Party (PP).

The winner of the election, former mayor Xavier Trias, could barely hide his annoyance by the twist in the script. Speaking after the investiture of Collboni, he said: “At my age of 76, I had already said, ‘If I don’t end up mayor, they can all go screw themselves’.”

Trias had run with a group called Trias for Barcelona, but given the inconclusive nature of the election result he had also reached an agreement with the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) for support. 

On Saturday, however, the day when the local councils were being constituted across Spain after the May 28 elections, a statement from the smaller parties in the chamber changed the situation. 

The comunes, as these groups are known, announced that they were offering their nine votes to the PSC candidate without forming part of the future municipal government. 

That left the outcome of the vote in the hands of the PP, whose candidate Daniel Sirera had previously stated that his group would support the PSC as long as Barcelona in Common – a leftist party with links to Podemos and now new leftist platform Sumar – was kept out of the administration. 

Collboni is the first Socialist mayor in Barcelona for 12 years, and takes over from activist-turned-politician Ada Colau. A member of the Barcelona in Common party, Colau has been at the helm of City Hall in the Catalan capital since 2015. 

She warned Collboni yesterday, however, that governing in a minority – as she has done while in power – is no easy task.

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