New Barcelona city councillor Manuel Valls, leader of the campaign backed by the Ciudadanos party, stood out at Saturday's constituent session of the Barcelona council through various moments of assertion that bordered on aggressiveness. In his speech to the council session, he had already tensed the atmosphere with a fierce verbal denial - in the presence of Quim Forn, brought out of prison for the day to be sworn in as a councillor - that the jailed pro-independence leaders are political prisoners. Later, when the new council members took the traditional walk across Plaça Sant Jaume to the Catalan government palace, the Palau de la Generalitat, he repeatedly shook his fist at the protesters lining the way.
Finally, during the formal greetings in the Generalitat palace, he refused to respond to the outstretched hand of the Catalan president, Quim Torra. Instead, he pointed incisively with his finger, and said something.
The reaction of newly re-elected Barcelona mayor Ada Colau spoke for itself.
Valls later said that his attitude was justified by a criticism that president Torra had made of him during a recent session of the Catalan parliament.
No le he dado la mano a Torra en el Palau porque su discurso en el Parliament hablando de mí como una casta fue un escándalo.— Manuel Valls (@manuelvalls) 15 de juny de 2019
"I didn't shake hands with Torra in the Palau because his speech in the Catalan Parliament talking about me as a member of the 'caste' was a scandal."— Manuel Valls
It isn't the first time that Valls has lost his temper when facing contrary opinions. In January, at the awarding of Catalonia's Josep Pla literary prize, winner Marc Artigau expressed his gratitude to the Catalan exiles and political prisoners. Artigau said that "reality can not be rewritten and in the distant future we will all feel shame about this." Valls replied, shouting, "We'll see about that!" Faced with a general reaction of indifference, Valls then reaffirmed, shouting again, "So annoying!" He then took up the issue with Catalan presidents Artur Mas and José Montilla, culture minister Laura Borràs, and Spanish government delegate, Teresa Cunillera.