This report arises from the limited information available in media outlets about the presence of foreign-born candidates in the electoral lists of the municipal elections on 24 May 2015. Although the presence of foreign-born candidates in the electoral lists of the municipal elections has been increasing in recent years, it still remains low and voids their chances of reaching positions of power in the municipalities. This, however, contrasts with the great impact foreign-born candidates have had immigration and diversity communication strategies. In this text, the following themes are developed:
- The communication strategies of foreign-born candidates
- The number of candidates of foreign origin
- Women candidates of foreign origin
- The profile of foreign-born candidates
- The share of foreign-born residents
Communication strategies for candidates of foreign origin
2011 was the first year the political parties created official campaign events to present their candidates that had been born in other countries. In 2015, Barcelona held these events for the Partit dels Catalans Socialites (PSC), Initiative for Catalonia Greens (ICV) and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC). In all cases, the parties dealt with the presence of the head of the list. The Socialists chose the Civic Centre Sant Agustí Convent, Barcelona, the ecologist party in its headquarters located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, and Republicans chose central Plaça dels Angels.
The three locations are central spaces of the city. Commissioning a campaign headquarters, produced small-scale coverage, but this was not covered by national media outlets.
In the case of ERC, the party organized its next event on 18th of May, six days before the election. ICV held its event on 29th of April and PSC on 25 April. The deployment of resources was discreet in comparison to any campaign event held in different districts of the city. The basic materials, such as print and graphics for social networks pieces, were also covered by the respective organizations. For filming actions, only the PSC produced a spot starring a lawyer named Erika Torregrossa. This too was something unprecedented.
It should be noted that in the era of social networks and smartphones, candidates have become, as never before, the figure head of prosumers. They are in charge of producing content and, at the same time, consuming what they produce. Amateur photography and video, mentioning hashtags and political keywords, with acronyms official matches, have gone viral. This has shifted the demand for resources from traditional political structures to computers, tablets and smart, increasingly powerful, high-definition phones. However, in the absence of a strategy and to work toward joining this phenomenon, the power of institutional brands has weakened and shifted to the power of the candidates’ personal brand.
The number of candidates of foreign origin
The number of candidates of foreign origin is unprecedented. Between PSC and the Barcelona confluence in Comú (ICV, EUiA, Podemos, Procés Constituent and Equo), there are 138 candidates born in other countries. In addition, we must consider other parties that make up candidates of foreign origin, but do not provide official figures. Among the leftist parties, Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) and the Popular Unity Candidates (CUP), neither have provided the requested information for this report. Like all the parties of this ideological trend, they also held campaign events that highlighted the contribution of its nouvinguts Catalan society.
In the case of conservative formations, all maintained reluctance to identify in a strangely similar strategy. The reasoning was that as a nationalized Spanish people, it is not easy to differentiate one Spaniard from another.. Making a specific count is strengthened if we take into account the 1,511 registered lists, totaling the Popular Party (PP) and Convergencia i Unio (CiU) in the 947 Catalan municipalities. Popular only made reference to a candidate of German origin, a resident in Platja d’Aro. Both answered in more or less equal terms:
“We do not have a list of people of foreign origin to participate in the nominations.”
In the case of xenophobic Plataforma x Catalunya, with its 80 nominations, the presence of candidates of foreign origin is discarded as a result of its campaign slogan “First the Home’s People”.
Women candidates of foreign origin
Women are an emerging factor. In several cases, women were listed between one and ten on several lists, including left-wing formations. Barcelona’s women candidates are PSC’s lawyer Erika Torregrossa, of Colombian origin (number 13), Dina Elmozouri, coming from Morocco (number 20) and Barcelona in Comú’s Jamsheb Huma, born in Pakistan (number 16). Torregrossa and Jamsheb have leadership roles within different groups and are characterized by their constant social activism in the last two legislatures. In particular, Torregrrossa matured her political profile with three electoral campaigns.
In La Bisbal (Girona), a a woman born in Morocco is in fourth place by ICV, and there are three women occupying fifth place in their respective candidacies in Tona, Arenys de Mar and Molins de Rei. By the PSC, Calella’s second place position corresponds to Cindy Rando Radaelli; while in Sant Cugat, the Catalan-Colombian Sandra Tirado stands at number four. It also has the socialist Jocelia Do Carmo Silva, from Brazil, in the municipality of Hostalric Girona.
The profile of candidates of foreign origin
The profile no longer only consists of presidents of particular associations, like it had in previous years. Now there are candidates who are doctors, businessmen and professionals who need no subsidies to assist with the cost of living. There are also activist entities, but now the profile is more diverse in terms of professions, countries, gender and age. The high polarization of Catalan politics has meant the contribution of people coming from outside has been assimilated into the ideological objectives of each formation. Class struggle, social justice, Catalan soberanisme, control and order have prevailed generally concerning cultural diversity.
The participation of residents of foreign origin
This could be surprising news. EFE last indicated they had only registered 62,000 people to vote in the countries within the agreement, which represents 1.1% of the population in Catalonia (Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago). However, this number does not take into account the foreign-born residents’ nationalities, which have skyrocketed in the last legislature due to the government’s streamlining of procedure. In 2013, there were 74,000 new nationalized residents in Catalonia, and they, are perfectly eligible to vote. If we add the numbers from 2014 and previous years, the voting potential is even greater but difficult to differentiate once you have an ID like other voters.