Iñaki Pardo Torregrosa, 27 December 2022
In 2019 the PSC was the leading force in l’Hospitalet de Llobregat, ERC, second; Junts did not enter / Llibert Teixidó
Municipal elections 2023 – ERC wants to consolidate the results it obtained in 2019 in the socialist stronghold and Junts aspires to surprise with a unique strategy.
The metropolitan area of Barcelona, where the majority of the Catalan population is concentrated, capital apart – with its own idiosyncrasies and political dynamics that are sometimes alien to its surroundings – is one of the areas marked in red on the map of all political parties. It is also one of the areas marked in red on the map of all the political parties, including the pro-independence movement, although the parties in this spectrum have very different starting points ahead of the municipal elections in May next year.
This is a traditionally socialist fiefdom, so much so that it is also known as the red belt, although five years ago, in December 2017, in a circumstantial and exceptional way, it was dyed orange in the autonomous elections after 1-O with the massive support for Ciudadanos as a counterweight to independence. But in subsequent elections the PSC has recovered its vigour while the orange party has waned.
Esquerra has been gaining positions, without threatening socialist hegemony, in several cities over the last decade, and in several municipalities, it has become the second force. In the municipal elections of May 2023, the Republicans aspire to consolidate this progress and win voters with bets such as Gabriel Rufián, ERC’s number one in Madrid since 2016, who will be a candidate in Santa Coloma de Gramanet. Junts was the party that won the most mayorships in Catalonia three and a half years ago -still hand in hand with PDECat-, but it failed miserably in the metropolitan area and only won one councillor -David Torrents in Badalona- in the first crown. In the city councils of Sant Boi de Llobregat, Cornellà de Llobregat, Sant Adrià del Besòs, l’Hospitalet de Llobregat, el Prat de Llobregat and Santa Coloma de Gramenet, for example, there is no JxCat representation.
Jordi Turull’s party has set itself the goal of “springing a surprise” and “penetrating” this territory. To this end, they have been working for more than a year on their own differentiated strategy to connect with the population and its particularities. During the campaign, they will focus on issues such as housing, mobility, and security, and will concentrate on aspects such as the fundamental transformations that have been slowly and discreetly taking place in recent years in areas such as small businesses – after retirement, many of them close or change with the transfer -.
JxCat will emphasise urban issues such as housing, security, and mobility.
Another example that illustrates this is Junts’ initiatives to put an end to conflictive occupations, which had already been promoted when they were in the Government, although they did not materialise. Now the party is trying to promote them from the opposition and from the municipal sphere. “We will talk about housing, about young people being able to buy and not having to move to the second or third crown, about progress and about implementing a Catalan minimum wage of 1,250 euros, because living in Catalonia is more expensive”, say JxCat.
Since Jordi Sànchez led the party, Toni Morral, former mayor of Cerdanyola del Vallès with Iniciativa, has focused on the metropolitan folder. Alongside him, who has been the coordinator, the team has included the former mayor of Molins de Rei, Joan Ramon Casals, who is the party’s president in the Barcelona region, and Isidre Sierra, spokesman for Junts in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona and mayor of Sant Climent de Llobregat.
The discreet work began with an analysis and reflection on why Junts hardly won any support in the metropolitan area in 2019, although in the regional or general contests it did fish for votes in this area. “Among other things, we saw that we did not have a specific narrative beyond identification with 1-O”, say the sources consulted.
Apart from the metropolitan area of Barcelona with its 36 municipalities, ERC, which has an advantage in the race, has a strategy for the cities from Blanes to Cambrils. In the Maresme, for example, they already have 17 of the 30 mayoralties. “Our strategy is that the candidacies should resemble the towns they represent,” say Esquerra sources. “We want to improve the results and have mayoralties after having grown in recent years, although the PSC is still very strong,” add the sources, who highlight their project in Santa Coloma de Gramanet, with Rufián as the visible face.
“It is an interesting bet, and a metropolitan candidate that serves us for the rest of the municipalities”, emphasise the sources, who also highlight their bet in l’Hospitalet de Llobregat. The republicans will be led by the former socialist councillor Jaume Graells, who denounced the corruption case of the Consell Esportiu of the second Catalan city and left the PSC.
The party stresses that, unlike other forces, most of its candidates are already closed and have been presented, with half a year to go before the contest. Following the idea of looking for people who are similar to the population, in Sabadell the Republican leader is Gabriel Fernández, of Uruguayan origin, and in Martorell, Soulimane Messaoudi, a councillor who came to Catalonia from Morocco when he was young.
And while Rufián will be the visible face of ERC in the metropolitan area, Junts is relying on the former convergent mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, who has been on everyone’s lips for months, even before announcing his intentions, and has presented several candidates.
The CUP began to define its strategy in mid-November with an ad hoc convention and will also focus on aspects such as mobility, sustainable and quality, and housing. Its candidates, say anti-capitalist sources, will come from neighbourhood movements and aspire to consolidate and improve the results of 2019.