After months of rumors, Xavier Trias confirmed this Monday night at a party dinner at the Cotxeres de Sants in Barcelona that he will be the Junts per Catalunya candidate for Mayor of the Catalan capital in municipal elections next May. His return to the political front line, after more than three years in retirement, closes the debate opened in the formation last May, following the resignation of Elsa Artadi to lead the candidacy. Trias, who is already 76 years old, has already appeared as mayor this Tuesday and from his speeches some of the keys to his candidacy are revealed.
Aspires to capitalize on the discomfort with Barcelona en Comú
Mayor of the Catalan capital between 2011 and 2015, Trias saw that last year as Ada Colau and his candidacy, Barcelona en Comú, surpassed him in the municipal elections, with a clearly antiestablishment and promising a city model in which the people and the popular classes were put at the center and not the interests of the traditional elites. Seven and a half years later, Trias took the step and returned to politics to compete fundamentally against Colau, and with the promise of defending a city model very different from that of the mayoress.
In his first press conference as a candidate, he opined that Barcelona is “disoriented”, it has lost leadership and projection, “it is insecure and dirty”. “They have managed to make people outraged,” he assured, a speech that fits very well with what, since 2015, certain sectors of the city have defended, fundamentally linked to their traditional powers. In this sense, Trias stressed that, regardless of the results of next year’s elections, in no case will he make Colau mayoress, because it has a model of city very different from yours. Therefore, it makes it clear that it aspires to capitalize on the discomfort that exists with the comuns, at least in certain sectors of Barcelona.
Among other issues, Trias has specified that if he returns to head the city council, he will try to stop the connection of the tram through the Diagonal, which he sees as unnecessary on the grounds that there is already an express bus that links Plaza Francesc Macià and Plaza de las Glòries, and he will also oppose the expansion of the Superilla Barcelona model. In his opinion, promoting green axes at the Eixample crossroads and eliminating the chamfers creates difficulties for loading and unloading and more congestion, because the activity ends up being carried out “in the middle of the street”. “It’s outrageous and in the long run it generates more pollution,” he considers.
Trias, like your party, does not see with good eyes the various urban transformations implemented in the city, which fundamentally seek to reduce space for vehicles private and pacify streets and squares so that pedestrians make them their own. In addition, he defends that “poverty must be fought by creating economic activity and decent wages”, which should be interpreted as a message critical of the regulations and limits that the Colau government has imposed on certain sectors, such as hotels or real estate.
In other words, Trias already points out that his hypothetical government It will be a lot more business friendly than the current one, in line with what it already did in the 2011-2015 mandate, in which the demands of lobbies such as Barcelona Global were very well received by the consistory. Pressure groups which basically bring together large companies and which have questioned Colau’s actions precisely for setting limits to his activity.
Fight for the ‘establishment’ vote
The commitment to Trias supposes, in a certain way, a return to the essences of the old Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya, that is, a formation of order, far from unilateral drives at the national level –although almost always they do not go beyond rhetoric–, with some markedly neoliberal economic proposals and well connected with the business and economic ‘establishment’. In this sense, his return could have an impact on the electoral expectations of Jaume Collboni and the PSC, the candidate and party that since the emergence of the Procés have best connected with the traditional lobbies of the city, such as the employers’ association Foment del Treball, the Cercle d’Economia, the RACC or the aforementioned Barcelona Global.
In fact, proposals such as expanding the El Prat airport or questioning the superilles model are some of the flags of all these sectors that Collboni’s PSC defends and that it will also assume as its own Trias. In addition, the Junts candidate has already warned that if the former president of Barça Sandro Rosell takes the step and stands for election, both will be harmed, since votes will be subtracted because they will go to similar sectors. Rosell, who has a markedly more elitist speech than that of Trias, has stated that he will make a decision after Reyes.
With his passing, Junts hopes that the three-man battle for mayor that the polls show so far –among Colau (BComú), Ernest Maragall (ERC) and Collboni (PSC)– expands to four, aspiring to attract voters from both ERC, such as the PSC or even certain sectors that in 2019 opted for Manuel Valls and Ciudadanos. Trias will play with the idea that it is Colau’s main antagonistbasically because Collboni is still the first deputy mayor and, therefore, a member of the government, and Maragall has voted in favor of the major projects of the current term.
Regroup your political space
Although he will be the Junts candidate, Trias has made it clear that he wants to go beyond the party and make a personal applicationwhere his name and his memory as mayor weigh more than the initials, which have not appeared in the video or in the presentation act that he starred in this Tuesday.
Trias claims “heir” of Convergència and in this sense it is understood that he aspires to reunify the space that his old formation had represented and has already made explicit that he sees having the support of the PDeCAT as “basic”. In fact, he has lamented the “wounds” that were opened between both formations, and it should be remembered that he himself was a member of both until just a couple of months ago, when he opted to continue only in Junts.
The revival convergence that Trias supposes is also noted in the confirmation of the first names that will accompany it on the list, and that they are Neus Munté and Jordi Martí Galbis, which will be numbers two and three, respectively. Former Minister and former Vice President of the Government during the presidency of Artur Mas, Munté has been a councilor since 2019 and currently leads the municipal group, while Martí has been a city councilor since 2011, and was already part of the Trias government during his four-year term.
Other names that will possibly be part of the project are those of the former Minister of Foreign Affairs Victoria Alsinathe former president of the Port of Barcelona Damia Calvet and the former minister ramon tremosa. Regardless of whether they have more or less institutional experience, they are all grouped in the most pragmatic sectors of Junts –Alsina, for example, clearly positioned itself against the departure of the Government–, far from the profiles close to the president of the formation , Laura Borras.
The electoral ‘last dance’
In 2015, after losing the Mayor’s Office, Trias decided to continue as a councilor in the Barcelona City Council and, in fact, remained head of the opposition throughout his term. If after the elections next May he does not lead the consistory again, however, this will not be repeated, since he has confirmed that running for “mayor or nothing” and if he does not achieve the objective, he will not remain as a councilor. He has promised to support the list with the most votes, except if it is the one from Barcelona en Comú. Therefore, he is willing to support the socialist Jaume Collboni or the republican Ernest Maragall in case they are ahead of him.
Most likely, they will be the last elections that Trias stands for, who, if he became Mayor, would end his term at 80 years of age. In a way, It will be his last political dance and will close a very long institutional career, in which he will have been mayor five times.
After making a career in the Generalitat –he was Minister of Health (1988–1996) and of the Presidency (1996–2000)– and in Congress –deputy from 2000 to 2004– municipal politics has focused the last two decades of his career. In the municipal elections of 2003 and 2007, it failed to defeat a PSC until then undefeated in the city, despite cutting the distance from six to two councilors – the PSC went from 15 to 14 representatives and the CiU from nine to 12–, an objective which it would reach in 2011, while in 2015 it was surpassed by Barcelona en Comú de Colau –11 councilors to ten–.