Read in Catalan

The campaign for mayor is dragging out for Manuel Valls and the city of Barcelona is beyond him. The man who landed in Menorca last summer, who fulfilled the hopes of the Catalan bourgeoisie in the Cerdanya who thought they saw in him the white knight with which to oust Ada Colau and block the independence movement's way, is showing that, despite having been prime minister of France, he lacks skill and savoir faire and has more than enough arrogance and ignorance. The performance given by Valls at the awards ceremony for the Nadal and Josep Pla prizes for literature after one of the winners, Marc Artigau, referred in his acceptance speech to the political prisoners and legitimate Catalan government in exile is hard to understand. Harder still to understand is him asking the Spanish government's delegate to Catalonia, Teresa Cunillera, for an explanation (for a speech!), and questioning former president Artur Mas, who was at his table just like former president José Montilla.

Valls is nervous. That's clear. His campaign isn't achieving its planned objectives. It's at a standstill. I doubt that with performances like this one and cheap folklore it will make a comeback, even if he manages to attract attention and a smattering of applause. What is his concept of freedom of expression? Does he maybe think that an awardwinner's speech should be censored beforehand? The fact that only Valls raised his voice against Artigau's speech has nothing to do with the "silence imposed on them" that unionists talk about. The event had been organised by the publisher Destino, part of the Planeta Group! It's very likely that there were people there who didn't share Artigau's opinions, but the speaker has the right to express his opinion. And it's obvious that there are political prisoners and that president Puigdemont, fired by the 155 coup, is in exile!

It's remains in bad taste for Manuel Valls that the incident in Barcelona's Palace Hotel should have happened just hours before the fourth anniversary of the murders at the weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hedbo in Paris which brought forth a wave of solidarity worldwide in support of the victims and in defence of freedom of expression. Valls had referred to the tragic anniversary and the defence of freedom of expression, something which clashes with his attitude at a literary event in Barcelona. Long before reaching the election, we Barcelonans are starting to understand why every time we go to Paris we hear the same joke: now it's you suffering from Valls; we've already got rid of him!

And, at this rate, this phrase which is so common in France threatens to be the worst cover letter for someone who presented themselves as being in love with the city they were born in and who has, within months, shown that he's unaware of what its citizens, values and culture are like.