Almost two months after the Municipal elections were held, Orihuela mayor, Emilio Bascuñana called an emergency plenary last Monday to agree councillor salaries and appointments as well as the appointments and salaries of their assessors and government advisors.
The Mayor’s proposal included a salary of 61,537 gross euros per year for himself and 48,350 for his councillors but following the presentation of his recommendations the motion was defeated by the opposition, consisting of Ciudadanos, PSOE and Cambiemos who all voted against the motion while the two members for Vox abstained.
Ciudadanos, which was the main hope of the government team in getting its proposal approved, voted against “because it does not seem logical that we talk about salaries without having first formed a proper government, the model that the city wants,” said spokesman José Aix.
The Socialist spokeswoman, Carolina Grace, defended the vote of her group saying that the salary increases were “quite disproportionate” insisting that the mayor “must move from his position and bring a salary proposal that improves the conditions of the opposition councillors as well”.
Meanwhile, the spokesman for Cambiemos Orihuela, Carlos Bernabé, said that “to be good representatives, we have to be representative” so he asked the mayor for a proposal that fits more “to the needs of the people we represent”
Following its defeat Orihuela continued as the only Municipal Council in the entire Vega Baja still to formally appoint it’s team and allocate their responsibilities a month after it was first invested.
The spokesman for the government, Rafael Almagro, has said that it was an “attempt to block the PP government” adding that they would be back with a new proposal shortly.
However, following the defeat Bascuñana decided to allocate council roles to his eight councillors regardless of the plenary vote.
After two months, during which time the municipal departments have been left to their own devices, and his elected PP colleagues have become increasingly frustrated with his lack of action, the mayor has finally ‘divided the spoils’ despite the fact that councillors will be required to work without drawing a salary, as a result of the plenary defeat.
The share out comes notwithstanding the public announcement made by his right hand man, Rafael Almagro, that the mayor would maintain a conversation with Ciudadanos regarding a coalition government. Bascuñana has decided to take the initiative on the eve of Las fiestas de la Reconquista, one of the main public celebrations of the year.
So the government team will now begin their work, without pay or advisers/assessors, and in a clear minority, just nine councillors from a chamber of 25.
The mayor will retain responsibility for Contracts, Protocol, Institutional Relations, Security, Human Resources, and Internal Government.
Rafael Almagro, the deputy mayor, will manage Historical Heritage, Communication, Culture, and Planning.
Victor Valverde , will look after Emergencies, Rural Development, Employment, Infrastructure, Maintenance and Works, Parks and Gardens, Water and Lighting.
Sabina Goreti Galindo, will assume responsibility for Finance, Heritage, “Large Projects” and New Technologies.
María Dolores Rocamora will have Festivities, Tourism, International Residents, Health and Safety and Statistics.
Dámaso Aparicio, -the only one has not been granted more powers will retain Urban Cleansing, Environment, “Transparency” and Beaches. He loses Markets.
María Teresa Sánchez Cánovas will assume responsibility for Social Services, Immigration, Citizen Participation and Equality
Víctor Bernabéu, will manage Sports, Commerce, Markets, Industry, Energy and Development.
José Galiano Moreno will look after Health, Agriculture, Transport, Youth and Education.
Following the announcement of council appointments by the mayor there was conciliatory note from José Aix who said that the allocation of responsibilities “seems normal to us”.
“After a month as mayor, it is normal to allocate the delegations and we understand that Orihuela needs this decision, it is correct,” he added.
Aix also said that he hopes that the step will not influence the conversations between the two parties. “It will depend on the will of them [PP], for us it is not a problem, we understand that the mayor has done what he had to do. We will have to see if he wishes to continue communicating with us or, on the contrary, decides to remain in his current state of minority”.
The statement by the leader of Ciudadanos would seem to keep the door open to a coalition administration which Bascuñana simply has to achieve if his party is to continue in government.