The fine of 277,000 euros that the Court of Accounts has imposed on Manuel Valls for irregular financing of the 2019 municipal electoral campaign is the latest episode to have come to light of an authentic operation of state, carried out by the local establishment, to prevent the Catalan pro-independence forces from reaching the Barcelona mayoral office. The so-called Upper Diagonal grouping activated its skills and its funds, first to inject resources into Valls to allow Spanish unionism to be in a position to defeat the independence movement, and then by forcing a coalition that has given Ada Colau four more years as mayor, too many, with the indisputable deterioration that the city is suffering today.
Valls did the job that was assigned to him and today perhaps he follows from Paris, the city to which he returned after his political failure, the disaster that was set in motion in Barcelona. Perhaps the best news is knowing that when he returned, the French denied him a seat in the National Assembly and today he is languishing in anticipation of new opportunities. All that backroom manoeuvering is today largely regretted even by the instigators, who did not anticipate the consequences of displacing the pro-independence forces from the mayor's office when the alternative was four more years of Colau, and they opted to sacrifice Barcelona and preserve the unity of Spain.
Curious paradox: since 2019 they have been active against the city government, seeking to erase their colossal political mistake from history, as they had been before the elections four years ago. But in politics, you also pay for your errors and today Barcelona has lost much of the momentum it had built up and only the inertia of its history, its invariable position as one of the cities of style, and the inherent dimension of a large metropolis allow it stay afloat.
One of the most common mistakes in Barcelona in recent years has been to try to incorporate political actors who were willing to act as empty suits in decisive moments. That's why Valls was able to leave Barcelona without any punishment. This disposition ends up favouring political groups or candidates who under normal conditions would either not present themselves, or would have a more difficult time. It would be good if the Upper Diagonal were to learn a lesson from the past and refrain from fabrications in the municipal elections next May. Because after eight years of going downhill, Barcelona needs a new horizon, far removed from what these two mandates have entailed.