The French press has kept a close eye on the negotiations and formation of the new municipal government in Barcelona. The presence of France's former prime minister, now Barcelona city councillor, Manuel Valls, has caused the political intrigue in the Catalan capital to awaken interest - although not great sympathy - beyond the Pyrenees.
On Saturday, leading French newspapers Libération and Le Figaro published their own chronicles of the day's events. In the case of the former, the headline was a clear statement of intent: "At Barcelona city hall, the loser is the winner, thanks to Valls."
Liberatión explains how the "unexpected support from Valls and an agreement with the Socialists" has made Ada Colau mayor even though she "lost the municipal elections" to pro-independence ERC candidate Ernest Maragall. "Ada Colau, close to the radical left, was re-elected with 21 councillor votes," it says.
As for Valls, the paper emphasizes the "blow" that he suffered in the municipal elections "reaching only fourth place" and talks about the offer "of his unconditional support [to Colau] to block Maragall's way." "With the re-election of Ada Colau, Barcelona is one of the last municipal strongholds retained by Podemos and its allies, who in 2015 had conquered several important Spanish cities such as Madrid and Barcelona," conclude the report, also mentioning the tension outside the council session and the presence of Catalan political prisoner Joaquim Forn.
A la mairie de Barcelone, la perdante est la gagnante, grâce à Valls https://t.co/AC8A0Pmx4m— Libération (@libe) 15 de junio de 2019
Le Figaro is already looking beyond the constitution of the city council and examines the intentions of Valls from now on. "After his defeat, Manuel Valls still dreams of a Catalan future," says the newspaper, referring to Valls as "one of the biggest losers of the Spanish municipal elections."
"A former prime minister who disembarked in a neighbouring country in order to, in his words, put a stop to the independence of Catalonia and left-wing populism... heavily defeated, in fourth place behind these two great adversaries and, worse, also behind a Catalan socialist party which until now was moribund," says Le Figaro.
Après sa défaite, Valls rêve encore d’un avenir catalan https://t.co/LNqAxIqLqb— Le Figaro Inter (@Figaro_Inter) 14 de junio de 2019
With his support for Colau, Valls "has returned to the centre of the playing field," they assert, noting that all this is taking place "a few months before the Catalan elections, planned for the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020". "Without him, the pro-independence Ernest Maragall, who finished first, would have reached the mayoral office. With him and, in oppositon to the views of the party that backs his list (Ciudadanos), Ada Colau will be able to be sworn in for a second mandate".