Matt Moffett, The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2015


new wave of leftist leaders is taking over in city halls across Spain, replacing established politicians sullied by corruption scandals. Generally political neophytes, they were elected as candidates backed by left-leaning parties and citizen movements that finished strongly in May 24 municipal and regional elections. President Mariano Rajoy’s right wing Popular Party lost control of 127 of the 154 largest cities it had won in 2011. This urban political earthquake could be a sign of what might happen in crucial national elections scheduled for the end of this year. More is at stake than just the future of Spanish politics: the balance of power in the EU and the Eurozone at a moment of acute economic and political crisis in Europe is also hanging on the results. Cities “are showcases for trends in national politics,” says Carlos Flores Juberías, a political analyst at the University of Valencia, noting that success in local races presaged triumphs in national elections by the Socialist Party in the 1980s and by the Popular Party in the 1990s. Mr. Flores cautioned that the new mayors will have to meet the high expectations raised in the campaigns. They will also face strident opposition and attrition tactics from the established powers, especially the right-wing media.

A Facebook post by a right wing politician warned the leftist victories presage “the burning of churches, the rape of nuns” [like in the Spanish civil war of the 1930s]. José Manuel Berzal Andrade, a Popular Party councilman, says he doesn’t like what he’s seen of the new mayor of Madrid, Ms. Manuela Carmena, and her agenda: “They want to impose the most Stalinist kind of Communism in the city”. Still, Mr. Zapata, a councilman in Carmena’s new city Government, said the Popular Party is just trying to whip up irrational fears about the new Government.

Get in deeper:

Citizens Take Power in Spain’s Largest Cities as a Political Revolution Sweeps the Country by Euronews

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