And what’s happening now?
There has been a cycle of change, and we can’t just ignore it. We’ve failed in our objective to surpass the PP. But things have been happening that seemed impossible two years ago, and left-wing and populist forces have imposed themselves with a positive result. Now we must work for social transformation. Great changes are never just election-related; there’s a need to work within and outside of the institutions to consolidate this change, which is necessary, more than ever, here in Europe. There’s an outburst of racism, fear, of extreme right-wing forces. We must be maximally exemplary. We’re here not just to end the two-party era but also to show that we can do politics another way, without corruption, giving the stage to the citizens, to their social rights. In the town halls of change we must show not only that we know how to govern, but also that we can do it better. The lives of the most vulnerable people and the uncertain European future are at stake.
Why in Barcelona and in other cities did you reach an agreement with the socialists, but in Madrid you didn’t?
The PSOE has different faces, and must decide whether to remain anchored in the past, or to join the forces of change. We won here, but we’re a minority [11 councilors out of 40]. In order to do what we want to do, we must negotiate. This is the mandate given to us by the citizens. And you negotiate with who’s here, with who has been chosen by the citizens, not with whomever you want. This year, we’ve approved balance sheet variations, fiscal ordinances and urban plans. And we have done it with left-wing forces, working with who is better tuned in with our programs, for the objectives and not for the political slogans, showing that the forces of change are more capable of gathering consensuses.
When you arrived, were you too optimistic?
Many were skeptical and never thought we would make it to governing a big and complex city like Barcelona. But here we are, a year later, governing well, with dialog. Not everything can be done as fast as you’d like. But, hell, look how much we’ve been able to do! We’ve approved a budget, fiscal ordinances and a €150 million intervention plan for neighborhoods aimed at restoring dignity to 15 neighborhoods which were subject to increased inequality. We are radically changing the City Hall’s contracting policy, which still represents 5 percent of the IGW. We have introduced social clauses, on conciliating work-related issues, binding clauses blocking companies from keeping goods in tax havens. In all the mobile phone contracts we require the materials to be traceable. We have set a limit to direct contracting: Only one company can obtain more than €200,000, a policy that favors small- and medium-sized businesses. We’ve increased the Local Council Property Tax by just 2 percent. We have challenged the austerity imposed by Mr. Montoro, the Finance Minister, decreeing education and health as “essential services,” and this allowed us to contract 2,000 new professionals. We have adopted an ethical code, we publish our agendas, we have capped councilors and salaries. The opposition tried to stop us from lowering our salaries, but we did it anyway, putting aside part of it as social funds which Barcelona will decide how to spend as a community.