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The oldest and youngest councillors shout into their microphones
The oldest and youngest councillors shout into their microphones / Álvaro Cabrera

Opposition's bid to oust Alhaurín el Grande mayor ends in legal squabble

  • The meeting, at which the opposition proposed a vote of no confidence in the mayor, turned into a nonsensical shouting match on Wednesday

Antonia Ledesma is still mayor of Alhaurín el Grande despite the opposition's attempt to replace her with a no-confidence vote on Wednesday.

It wasn't a question of the opposition groups not having enough support to oust the mayor - in the end the motion never reached the voting stage.

Instead, the two-hour-long meeting was taken up by complicated legalities with which the ruling party, Por Alhaurín, attempted to prove the motion null and void.

The councillor whose vote is at the centre of the debate is Mari Francis Fernández, the only representative of the Partido Popular (PP) on the council following the last local elections (the rest of the PP members had joined Por Alhaurín). However, Fernández's decision to support the no-confidence motion, tipping the balance in favour of the opposition, led to her suspension as a member of the PP by her provincial party chiefs.

Antonia Ledesma gestures to councillors to be quiet

Antonia Ledesma gestures to councillors to be quiet / Álvaro Cabrera

A non-binding report drawn up earlier this week by the municipal secretary stated that Fernández's vote would not count. The opposition groups argued, though, that the same secretary had written a contradictory report with a different conclusion in a similar situation in 2013.

Fernández's move from her party, however, has not yet been formalised at a council meeting, so she was still a member of the municipal PP group on Wednesday.

The other issue that added confusion - and decibels - to the already heated session on Wednesday concerned who was actually in charge of the meeting. In the case of a motion of no confidence in the mayor, the session is by law presided over by what is known as the 'mesa de edad' formed by the oldest and youngest councillors. In the case of Alhaurín el Grande, the oldest is Francisco Guerrero (Por Alhaurín) and the youngest Marina Maldonado (PSOE). As the two were on opposite sides of the council rift, there followed a debate as to which of them held the casting vote in the case of a draw, a point that is not established by law.

The secretary was unable to clarify this point and both councillors in question spent some time shouting into their microphones as if the one to make the most noise would get the vote.

The process continued, with numerous interruptions from the members of the public who attended the session, until the oldest councillor considered the vote could not proceed and called the meeting closed, with the support of the secretary.

The opposition groups have promised that this will not be the end of the story and that they will let the courts decide on the legality of the motion if necessary.

Meanwhile Ledesma, who already promised a crowd of 500 supporters on Sunday that the motion would not succeed, remains at the helm of Alhaurín el Grande town hall.