Grown up on the colorful Barcelona’s concrete, between the Mediterranean heat and heat of Catalonian heart, with face unknown to world but close to the thousands of people in Spain that were left without a roof over their heads and without hope in their eyes, Ada Colau, with disheveled hair and in petroleum blue T-shirt that was standing out in the hundreds of grey male’s suits, in the middle of Spanish parliament, said with a broken voice: “This man is criminal, and should be treated as such. He is not an expert.“ On the 5th of February 2013 Ada was called to testify in front of the parliament about the fate of many who lost their homes due to mortgage frauds and financial malversations, and “this man“, Javier Rodriguez Pellitero, who spoke before her, was the symbol of corrupt political and economic elite that Ada was fighting against during many years, on the streets, shoulder to shoulder alongside desperate people with no future.
Two and a half years later, Ada was elected as the mayor of Barcelona, becoming the first women in that position and the first person in recent history of Barcelona who will, with her politics, appearance, energy and ideals, try to light up again the former La Rosa de foc („The rose of fire“– nickname given to Barcelona in the beginning of the 20th century because of the turbulent social upheavals and people’s riots). Living the same life as her fellow citizens, and coming to power as an activist who will speak in their name but both with their words, Ada is facing many challenges of representative politics and narrow possibilities to institutionally change a system that is rotten inside out. Using her own words, to make the impossible possible. To make democratic revolution happen. To give voice to those to whom it have been taken away. To return the dignity where it was lost. To establish the politics that will guarantee a life worth living for.
Ada is everything but a typical mayor in Europe. With a trace of mannerism and cynicism she challenges the usual imagined picture of „politician“. As she herself emphasized many times, her goal is to feminize politics, to clean it from machismo. As a socialist, she is also trying to avoid the old leftist rhetoric and stuffiness. Ada can be our neighbor that we drink our morning coffee with, she can be our professor of philosophy or a cashier in our supermarket, she can be any of us. She refused to drive expensive car, she gives 80% of her monthly salary to social movement’s organizations and she is daily facing both outer and inner criticism, pressures and imposed restrictions in trying not to fail the streets she came from.
The beginning of October brought new challenges for Catalonia and Ada. The government sent police to prevent unconstitutional Catalan independence referendum which ended in violent and bloody police repression. The world stood in shock, and Europe, the old lady, once again hypocritically called for the end of physical violence yet refusing to address the demands of people on Catalonia. Rest of the left worldwide seems to still cannot agree upon the solution for this situation. Ada Colau remains the trusted face; always calling for the dialog and deliberation of different opinions, and looks like someone who knows when divisions are real, and when they are at the expense of the common people. Whatever happens next, she will remain on their side.