12 June 2011

Alcalá has a new Mayor

At a packed meeting in the town hall yesterday, the leader of the right-wing Partido Popular, Julio Toscano (left), was elected Alcalde (Mayor) for four years.  His deputy will be Juan Carlos Fernández Luna, leader of the Izquierda Unida (United Left).

The PSOE, roughly equivalent to the Labour Party in the UK, had been in power in Alcalá for 32 years.  For the last eight, the role of Alcalde was held by Arsenio Cordero, who now has to hand over the reins and return to his teaching job.  

This outcome, sufficiently surprising in the "cradle of Andalucian socialism" to have made the national newspapers, was enabled by a controversial pact between the PP and the IU, who picked up  four and three councillors respectively in the recent elections.  The incumbent PSOE only picked up six seats on the council, losing their overall majority - by just eleven votes - on 22 May.

"I wish you the best of luck sorting out the Lario mate ... I really do ..."
Luna, a teacher, and Toscano, a doctor, will continue with their existing jobs instead of becoming full-time employees of the Ayuntamiento charged with the day to day running the town, as usually happens.  Instead there will be four new employees, two from the PP and two from the IU, to undertake this role.   Nobody is quite sure yet how this will work, but the Mayor has a huge amount of power in Spanish local government, being responsible for hiring and firing all the council employees as well as signing contracts with third parties.

The word on the street is that the IU offered to form a pact with the PSOE, but only if they appointed Luna as Alcalde, which Cordero was having none of.  So, much to the disgust of many of the people who voted for them, they have jumped into bed with their ideological opposites.  A "pact of hate", it is being called, implying that their mutual desire to oust the PSOE is stronger than their opposition to each other. 

Their first joint action will be to audit the town's accounts, which have apparently not been published for eight years.  The IU will then have a chance to unearth evidence of the enchufismo or favouritism that they have been complaining about for years, and the PP can review the public expenditure programme before making the massive spending cuts they have promised.

Toscano and Luna doing a bit of
bonding after signing the "pact of hate"

Given that the IU nationally have guaranteed never to pact with the PP, it is quite possible that the Alcalá team will be disciplined or even expelled from the party.

Meanwhile, here is the new Alcalde explaining that politics aren't terribly important in local politics:

Thanks to Chemary Gómez Reyes for the photos

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