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Socialist sworn in as Barcelona mayor in boost for PM

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Socialist sworn in as Barcelona mayor in boost for PM
Newly elected Mayor of Barcelona Jaume Collboni is pictured speaking at the party headquarters in Barcelona after Spain's local and regional elections in May 2023. Photo: Lluis GENE / AFP

Barcelona city council elected a new Socialist mayor on Saturday following a surprise deal with two rival factions, boosting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez's party ahead of next month's general election.

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Socialist candidate Jaume Collboni finished second in local elections last month in Spain's second city, capturing 10 of the 41 seats on the council.

But just hours before city hall voted to pick a new mayor, the far-left Barcelona en Comu of outgoing mayor Ada Colau said its nine members would back Collboni.

The move was supported by the conservative Popular Party (PP) which has two seats  -- giving Collboni the support of a slim majority with 21 representatives.

While the socialists and the PP are fierce opponents, the conservatives were was keen to keep Xavier Trias of pro-Catalan independence party Junts per Catalunya 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 May 28 election, winning 11 seats.

READ ALSO: Spain's far right takes office in a string of major cities

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".

In a statement, Barcelona en Comu said it sought to "avoid a Junts government that extends a red carpet to lobbies and sectors favourable to right-wing policies".

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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 July 23 in which polls suggest Sanchez faces an uphill battle.

He called the snap polls after his Socialist party and their junior coalition partners, far-left Podemos, were routed in the May regional and local elections.

READ ALSO: A foreigner's guide to understanding Spanish politics in five minutes

 

 

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