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I've argued for a long time that the law on municipal elections should be modified to award a bonus to winning parties to avoid arithmetically distorting the wishes of the voters in elections in which the person at the top of the list is very important for the result. It's true there's already a minimal corrective mechanism in that the winning party can only be displaced from the mayoralty with an absolute majority in the council but, after all is said and done, in many cases coming first gives no advantage since pacts are negotiated at the state level under the premise of "I give you something here and you give me something there". So party strategies enter into the negotiations ("I dunno, I'll swap you Manresa for Tarragona or Sitges for La Seu d'Urgell", to give two examples at random) and voters wishes come second.

Probably, never before had the flaws in the law on municipal elections been laid out so clearly in Catalonia. Currently, the four provincial capitals could go either way and everything will end up being decided in offices. The four winners of the elections, Maragall (ERC) in Barcelona, Madrenas (JxCat) in Girona, Ballesteros (PSC) in Tarragona and Pueyo (ERC) in Lleida, are at the mercy of how events and negotiations develop, giving the appearance that the interests of their cities aren't the priority. In this multi-party bazaar in which everyone aims to get the greatest share possible (understandably as parties are above all structures of command, of authority) there's one key maxim: maximum power, minimal principles. Or, as a negotiator of many years' standing says: "You end up going red for one day, but you've got power for four years".

Part of this premise must be true when PSC says it's got Ciudadanos' six votes and PP's two in the bank to total a maximum of 16 and is calling for the mayoralty and/or a pact with Ada Colau's party. All of that to oust the election's winner, Ernest Maragall. Colau lets them come to her, says she doesn't want to talk about names... but puts hers on the same level as Maragall's. Nor has anybody counted out the idea she might end up presenting her candidacy without any agreement with Valls and his Ciudadanos. I mean, that she might accept for free (to use a phrase) the votes from the party of Rivera and Arrimadas in the same way that PP accepted Vox's in Andalusia. What have Colau and Valls got in common? A plan for the city? Obviously not. In fact, Valls was saying during the campaign that Colau and Maragall were the same. And Cs' spokesperson, José Manuel Villegas, has explained their two conditions to support left-wing candidates: that they should disown Pedro Sánchez's policies and explicitly endorse the application of article 155. And this is just the beginning.