Future of left-wing mayors of Madrid, Barcelona in balance

International
Ada Colau and Manuela Carmena

FILE – This combination file photo shows Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, left, delivering a speech in Paris on Oct. 23, 2017, and Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena, right, presenting her new book on Aug. 28, 2015, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The future of the left-wing mayors of Spain’s two biggest cities is being decided as political parties work against the clock to determine who will govern the country’s municipal governments. Cities across Spain have until Saturday, June 15, 2019, to choose mayors following May 26 elections. (AP Photo/File, Michel Euler, left photo, and Natacha Pisarenko, right photo.)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The future of the left-wing mayors of Spain’s two biggest cities is being decided as political parties work against the clock to determine who will govern the country’s municipal governments.

Ada Colau, a former housing activist, is poised to stay in charge of Barcelona after her party members voted Friday for her proposal to join in a coalition with the Socialist Party.

“Tomorrow I will present my candidacy to remain in power as Barcelona’s mayor for four more years,” Colau said after her party rejected the alternative that would have allowed the Catalan separatist party ERC to take over city hall.

In Madrid, three right-wing parties are struggling to strike a last-minute deal they need to oust 75-year-old former judge Manuela Carmena.

Cities across Spain have until Saturday to choose mayors following May 26 elections.

Colau and Carmena came to power on far-left tickets backed by the anti-austerity We Can party in 2015 elections that shook Spain.

Colau will also need the votes of former French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who has offered to support her in order to deny the Catalan separatists a chance to run Catalonia’s only large city.

Valls, who was born in Barcelona, has run as an independent with the backing of the center-right Citizens.

But Valls and Citizens have fallen out over Citizens’ willingness to enter into local and regional governments with the backing of Spain’s new far-right Vox party, which is anti-migrant and wants to roll back domestic violence laws.

Citizens is in drawn-out talks with the conservative Popular Party to pick a mayor for Madrid to replace Carmena, but they will need the votes of Vox to get it done.

Citizen’s proximity to Vox has also earned it a rebuke from the government of French President Emmanuel Macron.

France’s secretary of state for European affairs, Amelie de Montchalin, said Friday that “an alliance with the far right like we have seen in Spain is not an option,” according to private Spanish news agency Europa Press.

Citizens, which won the third most seats in Spain’s Parliament in April, is part of the new liberal group in the European Parliament headed by Macron.

Vox responded by asking Spain’s caretaker prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, to “act in defense of the independence of Spaniards” and accused Macron of “interfering in Spain’s domestic politics.”

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