Barcelona Election Puts Social Movements in control of the city

Source: TeleSUR English

On Sunday, people across Spain took to the polls for this year’s highly anticipated municipal and regional elections. The outcome of the vote has ended up shaking the status quo, catapulting a host of social activists and citizens’ organizations onto the political scene, and exploding a whole new set of opportunities for the country’s grassroots movements as they explore innovative new ways to negotiate the precarious balance between resisting austerity and reclaiming the commons while retaining a commitment to direct democracy.

The elections took on a particular significance in Barcelona. For four years, the Catalan capital has been one of the hotbeds of urban resistance to neoliberal rule in Southern Europe. Ever since hundreds of thousands of indignad@s swarmed into the Plaça Catalunya in May 2011, the city has witnessed the development of some of the most inspiring grassroots struggles and some of the most innovative movement practices — from reinventing the general strike to building migrants’ autonomy to defending common spaces.

Even before that, starting in 2009, the anti-evictions platform PAH began mobilizing debt-stricken homeowners to defend housing rights, engaging in nonviolent direct action to prevent banks from repossessing people’s homes. Now the PAH’s co-founder and long-time spokeswoman in Barcelona, the 41-year-old activist Ada Colau, has been elected mayor on the ticket of the citizen platform Barcelona en Comú (Barcelona in Common).

Continue reading