Ada Colau

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Ada Colau
Ada Colau Ballano picture
Colau in 2022
118th Mayor of Barcelona
In office
13 June 2015 – 17 June 2023
DeputyJaume Collboni
Preceded byXavier Trias
Succeeded byJaume Collboni
Personal details
Ada Colau Ballano

(1974-03-03) 3 March 1974 (age 49)
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Political partyBarcelona en Comú
Domestic partnerAdrián Alemany Salafranca
ChildrenLuca and Gael[1]
  • Ramón Colau Rami
  • Agustina Ballano Bernal
Occupationactivist, writer, politician

Ada Colau Ballano (Spanish: [ˈaða koˈlaw]; born 3 March 1974) is a Spanish[2][3] activist and politician who was Mayor of Barcelona between 2015 and 2023.[4][5] On 13 June 2015 she was elected Mayor of Barcelona, the first woman to hold the office,[6] as part of the citizen municipalist platform, Barcelona En Comú. Colau was one of the founding members and spokespeople of the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) (Platform for People Affected by Mortgages), which was set up in Barcelona in 2009 in response to the rise in evictions caused by unpaid mortgage loans and the collapse of the Spanish property market in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Early and personal life[edit]

Ada Colau was born in Barcelona, and grew up in the Guinardó neighbourhood. She went to school at the Santa Anna and Febrer Academies, and went on to study philosophy at the University of Barcelona but lacks the pertinent degree due to leaving her studies before completion, precisely by one subject, which she claims was due to economic instability in her family.[7]

Colau has openly referred to herself as bisexual.[8] She and her partner Adrià Alemany Salafranca have two children.[9]

Platform for People Affected by Mortgages[edit]

Colau in 2006

Ada Colau was one of the founding members of the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH) in 2009, and acted as the organization's spokeswoman until 2014. Colau rose to national prominence after calling a representative of the Spanish Banking Association "a criminal" while representing the PAH at a parliamentary hearing on the housing crisis in February 2013.[10] Colau supports the use of escraches, public protests outside the homes of government officials.[11]

In March, Madrid Government delegate Cristina Cifuentes of the People's Party accused Colau of supporting the Basque radical nationalist party Bildu.[12] Colau is coauthor of the book Mortgaged Lives, based on her experiences of grassroots campaigning and direct action with the PAH.[13]

Barcelona en Comú and Mayor of Barcelona[edit]

For the 2023 Barcelona City Council election, Colau's Barcelona en Comú campaigned under the slogan "Barcelona paves the way".

On 7 May 2014, Ada Colau announced her resignation as spokesperson of the PAH.[14] In June 2014[15] she founded Barcelona en Comú (formerly known as Guanyem Barcelona),[16] a citizen platform that stood in the May 2015 Barcelona municipal elections. Barcelona en Comú won a plurality in the elections (11 of 41 city council seats) and on 13 June 2015 she was sworn in as mayor with the favourable vote of an absolute majority of councillors.[17] She headed again the Barcelona en Comú list vis-à-vis the 26 May 2019 Barcelona municipal election. The list came up second, close to the ERC list headed by Ernest Maragall, with the same number of municipal councillors (10) as the latter. On 15 June 2019, during the inaugural session of the new municipal council, Colau commanded a qualified majority of the plenary for the investiture vote (21 out of 41 municipal councillors; presumably with the endorsement of the 10 municipal councillors of Barcelona en Comú, along the 8 municipal councillors of the PSC and 3 out 6 individual councillors of the Barcelona pel Canvi–Ciutadans list: Manuel Valls, Celestino Corbacho and Eva Parera), thus renewing her mandate as Mayor of Barcelona. However, her party lost the majority on the 28 May 2023 Barcelona municipal election.

Catalan independence and pro-Europeanism[edit]

Colau stated in 2016, "I’ve never been nationalist or pro-independence."[18] Colau was originally against the referendum vote; however, a week before the actual vote, she stated a referendum could take place after sustained pressure from pro-independence forces.[19] After the referendum of the 1-O, she embraced a central position rejecting both an UDI and the intervention in the Catalan self-government.[20][21] She considers herself in the camp "committed to advancing towards a democratic, social and freedom-loving European project".[non-primary source needed][22]

Controversies and criticism[edit]

Alleged corruption scandals[edit]

Ada Colau was indicted by the Spanish judiciary in 2022 for alleged irregularities in the handing of subsidies to entities linked to her party Barcelona en Comú, including to the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages which she founded in 2009.[23][24][25] Colau faced criticism from public opinion sectors because she refused to resign from her post as mayor, despite the ethical code of conduct of the party stating that party members pledge to resign from their posts should they be indicted for corruption, embezzlement or influence peddling, among other crimes.[26][25][27] A judge later dismissed a case involving some of the charges pressed against her.[28]

In November 2022, the Provincial Court of Barcelona reopened the case against her. The writ stated that there are indications of malfeasance in the repeated handing out of subsidies to organisations linked to Colau.[29][30][31]

Accusations of nepotism[edit]

In 2022, the Ethics and Conduct Committee of the Council of Barcelona raised concerns about nepotism in the municipal institutions. The Committee produced a report in which it heavily criticised the decision to hire Alicia Ramos, partner of the Housing councillor, as an advisor to the staff of Ada Colau on grounds of a potential conflict of interest. The report also stated that Alicia Ramos was not hired following a competitive process, and that the authorities failed to provide any reasons as to why Ramos was suitable for the role.[32][33]

Colau has also been criticised for several other controversial hirings, such as that of her husband Adrià Alemany.[34][35][32]

Crime rates in Barcelona[edit]

The police union of the Catalan autonomous police has accused Colau of "normalising" and "dehumanising" the rising number of crimes committed in Barcelona during her mayoralty after a 25-year-old man was fatally stabbed during La Mercè festivities in September 2022.[36][37][38] Albert Batlle, the deputy mayor of Security of the Council of Barcelona, admitted in 2019 that the city was experiencing a "security crisis".[39] In that same year, rising insecurity levels prompted the United States embassy in Spain to issue a statement warning about violent crime in Barcelona.[40]

Allegations of hypocrisy on environmental issues[edit]

During her period as mayor of Barcelona, Colau has maintained a political stance against activities that are susceptible of contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. She has repeatedly opposed the expansion of El Prat airport[41] and the use of private cars in the city,[42] and has pushed regional authorities to restrict the number of cruise ships arrivals in Barcelona.[43] In 2020 she declared a "climate emergency", advocating limiting the consumption of meat at schools and forbidding councillors from using the Barcelona-Madrid air shuttle.[44][45][46] Colau also called for a reduction of air traffic during the C40 Cities 2019 summit, arguing that aeroplanes generate greenhouse gas emissions that are "very dangerous for the planet".[47]

Ada Colau, along with two other council officers, faced accusations of hypocrisy after taking a transatlantic flight to Chile to attend the investiture of Chilean president Gabriel Boric in 2022, followed by a flight to Argentina. A local news outlet estimated the total carbon footprint of their trip at 3339 kg.[48][49] She also came under criticism in 2020 for using a car to attend a radio interview in which she advocated using public transport instead of cars.[50][51][52]


  • 2013 - Award for Human Rights, Barcelona Human Rights Film Festival[53]
  • 2013 - Award for Defenders of Social Rights, Colau Ada and Rafael Mayoral,[54] representing the Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca (PAH) (Platform for People Affected by Mortgages), for their continuing struggle for the legal right to a decent home, for their capacity to mobilize and citizen participation, and for their example of solidarity. Award from the media "Human Journalism".[55][56]
  • 2013 - European Citizens' Prize (with the PAH)[57]
  • 2013 - United Women Prize from the Artistas Intérpretes, Sociedad de Gestión (AISGE).[58]



  • 2012 - Ada Colau and Adria Alemany, Mortgaged Lives. Foreword by Gerardo Pisarello and José Coy, English Translation by Michelle Teran ISBN 978-09-791-3777-8
  • 2013 - Ada Colau and Adria Alemany, Yes you can! Chronicle of a small great victory. Editorial Destino, Collection Imago Mundi, 19 April 2013, ISBN 978-84-233-4690-5, 96 pp.[59][60]


  • 2011 - Ada Colau, How to stop an eviction, Platform for People Affected by Mortgages (PAH), July 2011.
  • 2014 - Ada Colau, Making the democratic revolution happen, Diario Público, 5 December 2014.


  1. ^ Izquierdo, Patricia (April 26, 2017). "Ada Colau ha sido madre en Barcelona por segunda vez de un bebé llamado Gael".
  2. ^ "Disillusioned Spain puts faith in new era of political activism". The Financial Times. 25 June 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2018. One breed of Spanish politician is gradually making way for another. It is not exactly a matter of generational change, for the newcomers include experienced figures such as Manuela Carmena, 71, a judge emerita of the supreme court who, as a young lawyer, used to defend people persecuted by the Franco dictatorship. (...) A second example is Ada Colau, who rose to prominence as a campaigner for homeowners threatened with eviction, and who upset the apple cart to win election in May as mayor of Barcelona. Her counterpart in Valencia is Mònica Oltra, leader of a leftist movement known as Coalició Compromís, which blends a firm stand against corruption with environmentalism and Valencian regionalism.
  3. ^ "Spain: Millions stage International Women's Day strike". Deutsche Welle. 8 March 2018. Retrieved 23 August 2018. High-profile Spanish politicians also showed their solidarity. Barcelona's city hall, led by Mayor Ada Colau, hung up a purple banner that read "Barcelona city hall supports the feminist strike."
  4. ^ Pujadas, Núria (17 June 2023). "Jaume Collboni, elegido alcalde de Barcelona tras el apoyo a última hora de los comunes y el PP". Cadena SER.
  5. ^ Blanchar, Clara; Cia, Blanca (June 15, 2019). "Colau reelegida alcaldesa en una tensa investidura con los votos de PSC y Valls". El País – via
  6. ^ Amy Goodman, "From Occupying Banks to City Hall: Meet Barcelona’s New Mayor Ada Colau", Democracy Now, June 5, 2015.
  7. ^ "Biography: Ada Colau". Ada Colau. Archived from the original on 2015-04-02. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  8. ^ Accini, José (20 January 2019). "Colau se reivindica de nuevo como la primera alcaldesa bisexual". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  9. ^ Sierra, Lluís (4 July 2015). "Ada Colau y Adrià Alemany: El poder en familia". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  10. ^ Daley, Susanne (20 December 2013). "Leading the Charge Against Spain's Mortgage Crisis". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  11. ^ López Iturriaga, Mikel (2 August 2013). "In Spain you can be a mobster but still merit full institutional approval". El País. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  12. ^ "Cifuentes riza el rizo y vincula a la Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca con ETA". Público. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  13. ^ Colau, Ada. "Mortgaged Lives". Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  14. ^ Blanchar, Clara (7 May 2014), "Ada Colau deja de ser portavoz de la PAH", El País, retrieved 26 June 2014
  15. ^ França, João (26 June 2014). "Guanyem Barcelona buscará conquistar el Ayuntamiento desde los movimientos sociales". Retrieved 26 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Let's Win Back Barcelona". Guanyem Barcelona. Archived from the original on 17 October 2014. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  17. ^ Burridge, Tom (25 May 2015). "Spain enters a new political era". BBC News. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  18. ^ "ADA COLAU". POLITICO. 2016-12-07. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  19. ^ Torres, Diego (2017-09-14). "Barcelona's mayor to allow voting in referendum". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  20. ^ "Barcelona mayor Ada Colau warns against Catalonia's secession from Spain | DW | 10.10.2017". DW.COM. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  21. ^ "Barcelona's mayor: 'Votes for CatComú won't go towards 'yes' to independence'". In English. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  22. ^ Colau, Ada (2017-09-27). "Europe must act to protect the rights and freedoms of Catalans | Ada Colau". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  23. ^ "Ada Colau imputada de nuevo: ahora por coacciones y prevaricación". (in Spanish). 2022-04-25. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  24. ^ Albalat, Toni Sust,J G. (2022-04-25). "Imputación de Ada Colau: la Audiencia de Barcelona ordena investigar por prevaricación y coacciones". elperiodico (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ a b Bueno, Clara Blanchar, Jesús García (2022-01-19). "Colau rechaza dimitir pese a ser investigada por un juez por presuntas irregularidades en subvenciones". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "Colau, 'víctima' de su propia palabrería y demagogia". ELMUNDO (in Spanish). 2022-01-20. Retrieved 2022-10-06.
  27. ^ "Gobernar obedeciendo. Código de ética política | Barcelona En Comú". 2022-03-24. Archived from the original on 2022-03-24. Retrieved 2022-10-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  28. ^ "El juez archiva la causa contra Ada Colau por las subvenciones a entidades afines". ELMUNDO (in Spanish). 2022-07-01. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  29. ^ "La Audiencia de Barcelona reabre la causa contra Colau por supuestas irregularidades en subvenciones". Retrieved 2022-11-04.
  30. ^ "La Audiencia ve indicios de prevaricación en la actuación de Colau con las subvenciones a entidades afines". La Vanguardia (in Spanish). 2022-11-04. Retrieved 2022-11-04.
  31. ^ Blanchar, Jesús García Bueno, Clara (2022-11-04). "La justicia reabre la causa contra Ada Colau por conceder ayudas públicas a entidades afines". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-11-04.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  32. ^ a b Fernández, Antonio (2022-02-08). "Nepotismo en Barcelona: hasta media docena de enchufes en el equipo de Colau". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  33. ^ Congostrina, Alfonso L. (2022-01-31). "El Comité de Ética de Barcelona censura a Colau por contratar a la pareja de una concejala". El País (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  34. ^ Noguer, Miquel (2015-06-28). "Ada Colau niega nepotismo por el contrato de su pareja". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  35. ^ Dirigentes, Grupo. "Las cinco decisiones más polémicas de Ada Colau". Dirigentes Digital (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  36. ^ "Muere apuñalado un joven de 25 años durante las fiestas de la Mercè en Barcelona". (in Spanish). 2022-09-25. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  37. ^ Digital, Periodista (2022-08-30). "Los robos en la Barcelona de Colau se disparan un 47% en 2022: Bolsos de playa, relojes de lujo y casas de futbolistas". Periodista Digital (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  38. ^ "Uspac acusa de "deshumanización" a Colau tras el joven muerto durante La Mercè". Crónica Global (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  39. ^ Agencias (2019-08-14). "El ayuntamiento de Colau admite que hay una "crisis de seguridad" en Barcelona". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  40. ^ Casanova, Grego (2019-08-23). "US embassy issues warning about rising violent crime in Barcelona". EL PAÍS English Edition. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  41. ^ "Colau rebutja l'ampliació del Prat i recorda que "té altres prioritats"". Tot Barcelona | Notícies i Informació d'actualitat a Barcelona (in Catalan). 2022-05-04. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  42. ^ Ortega, Maria (2020-09-22). "Barcelona preveu que mig milió de viatges en vehicle privat passin al transport públic". (in Catalan). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  43. ^ "The cruise ship conflict: Europe's port cities vs floating hotels". Financial Times. 2022-08-28. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  44. ^ SER, Cadena (2020-01-15). "Ada Colau: "Hay que reducir las emisiones sí o sí"". cadena SER (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  45. ^ Blanchar, Clara (2020-01-30). "Colau pide a las escuelas que reduzcan la carne roja en los comedores". El País (in Spanish). ISSN 1134-6582. Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  46. ^ Planas (Barcelona), Pablo (2020-01-15). "Colau declara el "estado de emergencia climática" y reducirá la carne en los menús escolares". Libertad Digital (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  47. ^ "Ada Colau on Twitter: "Los aviones vuelan en las capas altas de la atmósfera y generan emisiones de efecto invernadero muy peligrosas para el planeta. En la cumbre de @C40cities hemos exigido un compromiso a los Estados para reducir el tráfico de forma urgente #TheFutureWeWant"". Twitter (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 13 March 2022.
  48. ^ "La alcaldesa de Barcelona llega a Chile para la investidura de Boric". SWI (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  49. ^ "Colau pasa de la huella ecológica: las emisiones contaminantes de su viaje a Chile y Argentina". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  50. ^ Independiente, El (2020-11-18). "Colau defiende el patinete pero queda en evidencia: "Hoy he venido en coche"". El Independiente (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  51. ^ Mercado, Libre (2020-11-19). "Destapan a Ada Colau: carga contra el coche en una entrevista a la que acude... en coche". Libre Mercado (in European Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  52. ^ "Colau ataca al vehículo en la radio y descubren que ha ido en coche". (in Spanish). Retrieved 2022-10-04.
  53. ^ (This prize will be awarded to a personality or a group whose life and work has been intricately linked with the defence of human rights). Toni Navarro, director of the Festival, gives the award of Human Rights to Ada Colau, 26 May 2013
  54. ^ Entrevista a Rafael Mayoral, El desahucio es un problema colectivo, El País, 6 July 2011
  55. ^ Defensores de Derechos Sociales, Ada Colau y Rafael Mayoral en representación de la PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca), Periodismo Humano Archived 2015-12-22 at the Wayback Machine, 3 May 2013
  56. ^ Ada Colau y la PAH galardonadas por los Premios Defensores de Derechos otorgados por 'Periodismo Humano', Europa Press, 3 May 2013
  57. ^ "Spain's anti-evictions lobby wins EU prize A man belonging to the PAH anti-evictions lobby protests against home evictions regime in Barcelona. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP Spain's anti-evictions lobby wins EU prize". The Local Spain. 6 June 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  58. ^ Pilar Bardem entrega a Ada Colau el premio de los actores ‘Mujeres en Unión’,, 5 June 2013
  59. ^ Ada Colau, cuatro años de pelea por el derecho a una vivienda digna, La Marea, 20 April 2013
  60. ^ Y Colau también estará en Sant Jordi, 19/4/2013, cat

External links[edit]