Orihuela goes Green as Guillen is sworn in.

TO generalised surprise, the Greens’ candidate Monserrate Guillen, was sworn in as Orihuela’s new mayor. Not only does this end 25 years of conservative PP councils, but with its 90,000 population Orihuela is now the largest municipality in Spain to be governed by the Greens. Guillen was chosen with the support of the PSPV-PSOE socialists and the CLR-Claro.

Although outgoing mayor Monica Lorente lost her overall majority, the PP was the most-voted party, while the Greens obtained the fewest votes. When the time came to vote in the new mayor, Antonio Moreno, who headed the socialists’ list and Pedro Mancebo, the CLR-Claro candidate, both opted not to stand and instead supported Monserrate Guillen.

This was the first time that the PP failed to secure an overall majority in Orihuela, and meant that a last outpost of support for the regional party’s former strong-man, Jose Joaquin Ripoll, had fallen. When Guillen’s name was announced, the council chamber erupted in applause and outside “Indignados” from the 15-M movement beat out their approval on saucepans in a “cacerolada.”

Monserrate Guillen was “rooted to the sport” said onlookers. In keeping with Spanish tradition, he then received the mayor’s baton from Bob Houliston, the most senior council member. “The first thing I’ll do is clean up Orihuela and give back its dignity, as the public wants,” Guillen declared, promising “transparency, citizen-participation and honesty.”

And as he left the town hall, Guillen also spoke to the gathered ‘Indignados’ who, after he arranged to meet them later this week, began to drift away for the first time in days. The new mayor pledged to open new medical and social centres and sports installations. The public will know “where every town hall euro goes,” he promised.

Photo credit: Tony Sevilla Junior

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