Jordi Hereu, former Mayor of Barcelona

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Jordi Hereu
Former Mayor of Barcelona
By Andrew Stevens

24 April 2008: Born 1965, Barcelona Mayor Jordi Hereu has a degree and Masters in Business Administration from the Escola Superior d'Administració d'Empreses (ESADE). Hereu's professional background was in marketing, specifically for the Port of Barcelona Authority and several of its associated agencies, not least the burgeoning Free Port tariff-free zone. Hereu began as marketing manager for Port 2000 in 1991, becoming marketing director of Intermodal de Logística SA, the management agent for the free port.

In 1997, he joined the City of Barcelona as district manager for Les Corts, a northern area of the city. Two years later he was successful in securing election as a city councillor for the district, beginning his shift from a professional to political role in the city. In 2003 he received a second mandate to the city council, this time for the Sant Andreu district, on the other side of the city. He also achieved his first civic office on the council, as chair of the safety and mobility committee, responsible for road traffic improvements and parking enforcement.

Hereu secured promotion in the civic ladder in April 2006, becoming one of five deputy mayors, with responsibility for mobility, citizen participation and solidarity. Hereu served under Mayor Joan Clos, who had governed since 1997, but resigned to serve in the national government as minister for industry, only months after Hereu's appointment to the ranks of the city presidency, precipitating a leadership election in which he emerged as nominee for mayor. In August 2006, Hereu was formally appointed Mayor of Barcelona and took office in September.

Hereu is a member of the Socialists' Party of Catalonia (PSC, the Catalonian arm of the national governing Socialist Party), after the May 2007 municipal elections he was forced renew the party's coalition with the Initiative for Catalonian Greens (ICV, which also governs as part of the PSC-led coalition in the Catalonian community). The Republican Left of Catalonia, a Catalan nationalist party, chose to leave the coalition on the city council after the elections.

The PSC has governed the city, either by majority or in coalition, since the resumption of democracy following the demise of the Franco dictatorship. Its fortunes in the city have been impacted upon by the policies of the Clos administration, for whom national office provided a swift exit strategy against the likelihood of loss of local office on account of widespread disaffection with his record. Specific criticisms of the Clos era centre on his vanity project in the form of the 2004 Universal Forum of Cultures, for which he diverted E350m from city funds, as well as his belief in communitarian civic values (to be enforced through a 'behaviour code', dismissed as a throwback to Spain's fascist past, though locally popular) and the construction of a high-speed rail link through the city (between Madrid to Paris), in spite of a tunnel cave-in and the objections of those in the city centre fearing for its 19th century buildings. The latter has rebounded on his successor, who has clashed with the city council over the routing of the proposed line.

Barcelona is governed by a 41-member city council, headed by a mayor and five deputies (with 17 others in executive roles). As one of two designated cities (the other being Madrid) under the local government code, executive power in the city is shared between the council presidency and an appointed CEO and his/her staff, thus giving the city more autonomy over matters affecting its jurisdiction. The Catalonian government shares some competency with the council in the city however. The council sits on the Plaça Sant Jaume, opposite the seat of the Catalonian government.

Mayor Hereu is married with two children. He lists his broad political agenda as social cohesion, social capital, economic development and international projection, respect for others and public safety in the neighbourhoods, sustainability and the fight against climate change.

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