Jaume Collboni, the Catalan socialist (PSC) candidate for the city of Barcelona in the 28 May local elections, has become the mayor of Spain’s second city, despite coming second in the mayor’s race with 10 of the 41 seats on the council.
He was elected mayor by Barcelona City Council on Saturday following a last minute surprise deal with two rival groups, but which also boosts Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s national socialist party (PSOE) ahead of next month’s general election.
Collboni had served as deputy mayor in the past term, and just hours before the vote to pick a new mayor, the left-wing Barcelona En Comú of outgoing mayor Ada Colau said its nine members would back Collboni.
The move was supported by the right-wing People’s Party (PP) which has four seats — giving Collboni a majority of 23 out of the 41 newly elected seats in the council to become mayor.
While the socialists and the PP are fierce opponents, the latter were keen to keep Xavier Trias linked to pro-Catalan independence party Junts per Catalunya (JxCat) out of office.
Trias, who served as mayor between 2011 and 2015, had been favourite to occupy the post again since his pro-business party came first in the 28 May election, winning 11 seats. ALSO READ: Former mayor Xavier Trias wins in Barcelona, but can he become mayor again?
The news of Collboni’s election was met with a mixture of applause and jeers from the crowd gathered outside of city hall.
After being sworn in, the 53-year-old lawyer said he ‘wants to be the mayor of everyone’.
‘I will take on the role of mayor with the utmost determination, energy and conviction, being fully aware of what residents voted for and the support that made my investiture possible. And with all my will, I want to be everybody’s mayor,’ he said.
In a statement, Barcelona En Comú said it sought to ‘avoid a Junts government that extends a red carpet to lobbies and sectors favourable to right-wing policies’.
Collboni takes over from Colau, a former anti-evictions activist who during her eight years in office has pedestrianised more streets and limited the opening of new hotels to try to curb mass tourism.
His swearing in came as Spain gears up for an early general election on 23 July in which polls suggest Sánchez faces an uphill battle.
Sánchez announced the 23 July general election, following his party’s disastrous results in the 28 May local and regional elections.
¡Enhorabuena @jaumecollboni! ✊🏾— PSOE (@PSOE) June 17, 2023
Hoy ha ganado el progreso, la libertad, la coherencia y los ciudadanos y ciudadanas de Barcelona.
Hoy Barcelona, tiene nuevo alcalde socialista. 🌹 pic.twitter.com/9nG5eBBLVK