BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s Socialists received an unexpected boost from its main rival in next month’s national election on Saturday when his party won the mayor’s office of Barcelona following a tight vote at city hall.
Sánchez’s Socialists, or PSOE, took a beating in local and regional elections in May when the conservative Popular Party routed leftist mayors and regional chiefs in votes across the country.
The situation in Barcelona, however, was different. A party in favor of the Catalonia region seceding from the rest of Spain won the most votes by a slim margin over the Socialists. That left the Popular Party, which polled poorly in Barcelona, with the dilemma of either letting separatists rule the Catalan capital or helping the Socialists — PP’s leading opponent nationally.
Xavier Trias of the pro-independence Together for Catalonia party said that he arrived to Saturday’s investiture vote believing he had the support needed thanks to a deal struck with another separatist party.
But the apparent last-second decision by the Popular Party to back Jaume Collboni put the Socialists in charge of Spain’s second-largest city for the first time in 12 years.
The Socialists’ success in Barcelona comes amid a wave of Popular Party power grabs across many areas of Spain, often thanks to the support given by the far-right Vox party.
Sánchez responded to the electoral thumping his party took in May by immediately calling a national election for July 23.
Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press