It’s been all change at the Junta de Andalucía this week. The departure of Manuel Chaves to Madrid has led to a complete shake-up of the regional government under the new President José Antonio Griñán, a man who has emerged from the shadow of Chaves as someone determined to make some changes, rather than simply keeping his old boss’s boat afloat until the next elections.
The decision that has caught everyone’s attention has been the one that has brought Rosa Aguilar, until this week the Izquierda Unida Mayor of Cordoba, into the Junta de Andalucía. In just a few hours Aguilar has broken away from her party and her City Hall to take over the reins of the Public Works Department in Seville. The move has irritated IU: despite her recent differences with the party’s Andalusian leaders, Aguilar was one of the few remaining faces of Izquierda Unida that a majority of ordinary citizens would recognise. It’s clear that just as Griñán has chosen her for her personal qualities rather than her party, the people of Cordoba have been voting for her as their Mayor since 1999 for the same reasons.
Described as a tireless, courageous and committed worker, Rosa Aguilar has managed to keep the city of Cordoba in the hands of Izquierda Unida during a decade in which support for the left wing coalition has been falling away left, right and centre. When the next municipal elections come around it seems unlikely that the new Mayor will have the initials IU after his or her name.
In the mid 1990s Izquierda Unida was Spain’s third political force behind the PP and the PSOE under the leadership of a charismatic Julio Ánguita, who incidentally had also been Mayor of Cordoba. Most students and left-wing leaners I knew back then voted for them and in the 1996 general elections they won 21 seats in the Spanish Congress.
Whether it was the fact that Julio Anguita stepped down as leader, or the idea that a left-wing vote was more useful in the the hands of the Socialists to get rid of the PP, that caused their downfall (or a combination of both) I don’t know, but in 2008 the seats in Congress occupied by the IU initials had dwindled down to a very poor two. Now the departure of Rosa Aguilar, one of their best known representatives, does not bode well for the coaliton.
Meanwhile the skills of the former Mayor of Cordoba will hopefully be put to good use to the benefit of all Andalusians. Let’s see whether she can make the Malaga Metro go a bit faster.
Filed under: General by Rachel Haynes