La Linea’s Juan Franco ‘concerned’ about changing political landscape in Spain

The mayor of La Linea, Juan Franco, expressed "concern" yesterday about the political landscape in Spain following municipal and regional elections on Sunday and the snap general election called by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez following bruising results for the Socialists as support for the PP and Vox surged.

Referring to the possibility of a PP government supported by Vox, Mr Franco expressed concern that an excessively harsh policy could jeopardize a UK/EU treaty on Gibraltar that La Linea needs to ensure border fluidity for its cross-border workers.

“I am worried because the day before yesterday it seemed that the elections were going to be in November and that Spain was interested in reaching an agreement, to present it as an endorsement for the European Union presidency [which Madrid takes over on July 1],” he said.

Now, "I find myself with the elections, and if political forces that wear green and are not left-wing enter the government, I have heard some leaders say they want to close the border, even if they can't."

"I will continue to insist tirelessly and fight for this city, no matter who governs.”

“I don't know how the Spanish national landscape will influence [La Linea’s future], but I know that whoever I negotiate with here will not have decision-making power on Brexit.”

“It is essential for us, but we will have to see how we approach the issue because the Spanish government is not going to change its position just because a mayor complains in a corner of the country."

Mr Franco won overwhelming support on Sunday to become the country’s mayor with the strongest mandate, with his La Linea 100x100 party securing 22 seats in a 25-seat council.

That makes him the kingmaker in the Mancomunidad de Municipios and the Diputacion in Cádiz, two regional institutions that are key for the Campo municipalities and where he now holds deciding votes.

For now, the mayor said the negotiating committees for the Mancomunidad de Municipios and the Diputacion in Cádiz have not yet been constituted.

Therefore, there is still no decision on whether he will form an alliance with the PP or the PSOE in the respective institutions.

"I would like to have things clear by June 17," he said.

"We will have a meeting soon. The Diputacion will go first, and then the Mancomunidad, and apart from the general elections, we have the fair.”

“Those days and the days leading up to them are truly hectic. The idea is to have a decision before the fair."

The mayor said there will also be a meeting with the localists from 100x100 de San Roque and Los Barrios.

"Although we ran in the elections separately and we are independent parties, we will have to discuss and coordinate," he said.

But he added: “The first thing we will address are our own problems.”

“I don't know who we will lean towards, I can only say that during these eight years we have maintained and continue to maintain cordial relations with all parties.”

“We have demonstrated seriousness and commitment, we have fulfilled every single thing agreed upon, and what we sign, we will make public.”

The premise that Mr Franco established is that "the agreement should involve more administrations," with the aim of supporting La Linea in the issues that the municipality needs to address with the province, the Andalusian government, and the national government.

Mr Franco also referred to the low turnout in the recent municipal elections, which did not exceed 45% of the electorate.

"I find it incomprehensible that, in such important elections, the turnout doesn’t even reach 45%, although La Linea’s 100x100’s vote increased by 8%, which represents a great responsibility,” he said.

The mayor said work is already underway on the La Linea’s new government team and revealed that the five individuals leading the electoral list will constitute the core of the La Linea council.

He stated he expects the organisational session of the new city council to take place before June 30, since the electoral process for July 23 needs to be organised.

Additionally, that date coincides with the Feria de La Linea.

The first regular council session would be on July 13, and the fair begins on July 16.