This Thursday is the first anniversary of the Catalan Elections of the 27th of September 2015, which led to the first pro-independence majority in the Parliament. Cross-party list ‘Junts Pel Sí’, which gathered together representatives from civil society and politicians such as left wing ERC’s leader, Oriol Junqueras, former MEP Raül Romeva and former President Mas, amongst others, won the elections, obtaining 62 MPs in the 135-seat Catalan Chamber. However, they didn’t obtain an absolute majority and negotiated with radical left pro-independence CUP, who got 10 MPs, in order to have a majority in favour of independence in the Catalan Chamber. After Mas failed twice to be invested as President, since CUP repeatedly refused to support him, former Mayor of Girona and President of the Association of Municipalities for Independence (AMI), Carles Puigdemont, emerged as the candidate of consensus. Then, a term of office defined as ‘exceptional’ started, with the aim of launching a pro-independence roadmap and putting in place the basis for the future Catalan Republic.
The representatives of pro-independence radical left CUP in Barcelona’s City Hall, CUP-Capgirem Barcelona, will ask for the removal of the iconic statue of Christopher Columbus, located at the end of the Rambla street, close to Barcelona’s port. They feel that the 60-metre-high monument, which was installed in the Catalan capital in 1888 to coincide with the Universal Exposition, “praises the conquest of America”. The three representatives from CUP-Capgirem Barcelona will suggest changing the Columbus monument for a memorial to the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the slaves brought to that continent, and their resistance in the face of “imperialism, oppression and segregation”. Liberal ‘Convergència’ have already opposed the removal of the monument and left wing pro-independence ERC said they will study CUP-Capgirem’s proposal, which will be discussed during a plenary session this Friday.
Barcelona struggles to achieve balance between benefits of tourism and complaints about illegal apartments
Barcelona’s battle against illegal apartment rentals has recently taken a new turn.The European Holiday Home Association (EHHA) filed last Thursday a formal complaint with the European Commission against the “restrictions” on the renting of apartments for tourists in Barcelona. The city launchedlast July an action plan against illegal tourist accommodations. Residents consider them to be the main cause for the presence of tourists in quiet neighbourhoods and the disruption of neighbours’ tranquillity. Up to 30 million people visit Barcelona each year. Although tourism represents a significant revenue stream, the increasing number of reported incidents of noise, public urination and nudity in some spots is too much to handle. Barcelona’s action plan aims at detecting illegal sublets as well as denouncing platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway for offering them on their platforms. The City Council has threatened to fine the websites €600,000 each, despite Airbnb contributing €740 million to Barcelona´s revenue in 2015.
The Catalan President, Carles Puigdemont, will face a vote of confidence this Wednesday to decide whether the Parliament renews the confidence in the current Government or new elections are called. Although radical left pro-independence CUP has already announced that they will support Puigdemont, former liberal party ‘Convergència’ now the Catalan Democratic Party (PDC) warned that the call for a unilateral referendum cannot be a red line to renew the confidence in the President. Moreover, the party asked the CUP to show "a sense of state, loyalty and unity" to complete the process towards independence. On the contrary, the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) warned the PDC that if the vote is orientated towards the pro-independence roadmap, they will not renew their confidence in Puigdemont.