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Mercedes Vidal: “Without unity, we cannot stand up to the crisis”

Translated Thursday 16 July 2015, by Adrian Jordan

The head of the United Left (Spain) was elected to office in Barcelona en Comú at the side of future mayor of the Catalonian capital, Ada Colau. Interview.

How did you come to regroup such a diversity of social and political paths within the list of elected members of Barcelona en Comú?

Mercedes Vidal It is the fruit of reflection by the political parties and social movements which make up the list. The latter group has taken steps to align itself with institutional politics which it previously rejected, before realising it could be a useful tool to master in order to change things. As for the political parties, they realised the importance of grassroots solidarity. It is not possible to obtain different results under one sole banner. Until recently, these parties resisted this notion. Forming unitary movements, in so short a time, is not simple. Concerns over which direction to take and how to direct the project are normal. But in the face of ferocious neoliberal attacks, there was a change in thinking. The parties realised that gaining two more seats would not be sufficient to counter all the attacks. It was necessary to think of a new dynamic, set about constructing a unitary front, a popular left front (call it what you will), for Barcelona – founded on a single political platform. The focal point is the need to respond to the social crisis: against deportation, high transport costs, privatisation like that of water, defence of social services. The social crisis manifests itself in different ways. For too many years, a certain class has governed against another class. It is this which must change.

The consequences of the crisis, are they not the primary common denominator on your agenda?

Mercedes Vidal Certainly. Having such a clear enemy contributed to the agglomeration of the social movements and political parties which, only yesterday, showed profound divergences. They came to the conclusion that, without unity, we cannot stand up to the crisis. Everyone agreed for the need for a new arena. Each worked in their own field, then focus crystallised on Barcelona en Comú. But for all of us, leadership is in the hands of the citizen.

How can you govern without majority?

Mercedes Vidal We are seeking solid alliances with other moderate left groups. That will be difficult. If such alliances prove to be unworkable, we will seek agreement on specific political issues. There are measures upon which we agree - at least that is what certain groups have said during the campaign. We will see if they have the courage to want them implemented.

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