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Roquetas de Mar, the city that always votes for Gabriel Amat


Highlights: On June 17, 1995, Gabriel Amat became mayor of Roquetas de Mar (Almería) for the first time. 28 years have passed and, after eight municipal elections and different majorities, only he has sat in the mayor's chair. With 14,318 votes and 15 councilors of 27 possible, the popular mayor has surpassed by almost 10,000 ballots the second, the PSOE. The city of today does not resemble the village of then, with 36,000 inhabitants, lived from agriculture and tourism.

The town of Almeria had 36,000 residents when this mayor of the PP was released. Now, 28 years later, it has revalidated the absolute majority with a population of 102,000 inhabitants

On June 17, 1995, Gabriel Amat (PP) became mayor of Roquetas de Mar (Almería) for the first time. 28 years have passed and, after eight municipal elections and different majorities, only he has sat in the mayor's chair. As if time did not wear down his government, 28-M Amat swept away all his rivals. With 14,318 votes and 15 councilors of 27 possible, the popular mayor has surpassed by almost 10,000 ballots the second, the PSOE. The city of today does not resemble the village of then. The Roquetas of the first mayor's office, with 36,000 inhabitants, lived from agriculture and tourism was incipient. The first greenhouses in Almeria were installed there in 1963. The Roquetas of now, with 102,000 people, is focused on mass tourism, commerce and hospitality, and agriculture under plastic that occupies almost every square meter available outside the urban area. All with one constant: Gabriel Amat always wins.

Years ago, Amat defined himself as a farmer although some local sources refine that description to agricultural entrepreneur, which is not necessarily the same. Over time he became a builder of greenhouses and owner of car dealerships in the province of Almeria. Gabriel Amat Ayllón, who was born 78 years ago in a town on the coast of Granada, Albuñol, entered politics as a councilor of Roquetas in 1979. Since then, with a three-year hiatus (1983-1986) he has always held a position in the City Council. More than four decades that, in practice, sums up in one sentence Miguel Ángel Nieto, owner of a pastry shop on Juan Carlos I Avenue in the city: "As long as Amat is there, Amat will come out." Nieto explains the course of events in each electoral appointment: "Before the elections people always comment that this is made a mess, that we have to change. In fact, if you talked to people four days before the last ones, it seemed that they didn't come out. In the end, it has swept away. It's always the same."

A former IU official who prefers not to reveal his name gives an opinion that ends in the same place: "He never trusts, never gives an election for won or lets go. On this occasion he has created a mega-mobilization for fear of Vox." Before the elections, he explains, "there are always rumors of weakness of the PP, that they do not reach an absolute majority; in reality, they always come out of them, from Gabriel, so that their voters do not relax," he adds, "and the results are what they are." Belén Pérez, candidate of IU / Podemos, who have formed a single candidacy, attributes the success of Amat to abstention, which reached 49.35%, and to "the right-wing wave": "We will have to make ourselves look at why people have stayed at home." "Amat met with all the associations and collectives. We have asked to meet with them and they have not wanted to," says Pérez.

Eva Pérez, president of the Association of Merchants of the city center, praises the municipal plan Impulsa that financed 70% of all expenses of the pandemic. "We appreciated that very much and it came from him," he summarizes. Clara, from Granada, who has lived in Roquetas de Mar for 45 years, has another opinion: "I don't like how he treats citizens and distributes work to whoever he wants. He should retire now." At the Flores hardware store, a few meters from the mayor's house, the owner is happy. "As a neighbor he is always there and the city has been adapting to the times." And, without having heard it, he finishes Nieto's idea: "Here the acronyms do not matter, as long as he presents himself he will win because there are no options."

That there are no options is not literally so. In the municipal ones the rockers have been able to choose between 13 ballots. The PSOE has achieved municipal representation, with 4,932 votes and five councilors; Vox, with four councillors; the local right-wing formation Almería Avanza, two councillors; and IU/Podemos, a councillor. The other eight have been left without representation adding 3,512 votes.

Manolo García, PSOE candidate for mayor, finds no explanation for that majority. "There comes a time when it seems that we don't even understand politics. We have presented a magnificent candidacy, open to new people but not even so," he says. And he complains that Amat is voted for "in a city where there are still no urban bus lines, there is no National Police because he does not want to, he has not put a tree in years, there are 20,000 empty homes and no industrial employment is created": "We have 17 kilometers of magnificent beaches without any added value. For us this has no other explanation than the captive or clientelist vote."

The dispersion in many political groups is not accidental, comments the former position of IU: "Amat likes that there are many so that there is that dispersion of the vote that is useless then." He is fond, he says, of "divide and conquer." In any case, this former politician considers that "he is a good politician: he knows how to read the wave and take the side of it; he is always in the right place and when he is not, as happened when he supported Cospedal, he rectifies and returns to the right place." But he adds other reasons: "His advertising campaign is bestial, it is a constant bombardment that does not let anything be heard from others. Then there is that the PSOE is idling and the IU/Podemos union is not a real unit, it is an empty shell with little else."

"I have won all the trials and there have been many"

Gabriel Amat, as he explains by telephone to EL PAÍS, sees it easier. His victories are due to "work" and "fulfilling" what he commits to. "The city council has no debts, the tax burden is lower than in most cities, we are the first or second in prompt payment in Andalusia and among the top 10 in Spain." He also insists on a radical transformation of Roquetas, something evident if one takes into account that its population has tripled in less than three decades. The municipal budget reaches, says its mayor, 108 million euros per year.

In addition to the municipal arena, Amat is frequently summoned to court, but has not been convicted. "All the trials I've had I've won and they've been many. And the newspapers criticize me but then they haven't been able to apologize for what they've told me. My satisfaction is that all the accusations and lawsuits have been won by me," he says. And as to whether he's going to keep performing: "I don't know, I don't know. I have desire and strength, but God will say."

In Roquetas de Mar live 113 nationalities and Romanians and Moroccans are the largest communities. Ali Yahya, 36, of whom 22 have spent in Roquetas, says he lives well. The daily wage in agriculture is 43 euros a day and "they have opened the mosques we need." To the Romanian community – 9,000 in total, 3,000 of them registered in recent months according to the PSOE – mostly ordodoxos evangelists, the City Council and the Diputación de Almería financed the purchase of a plot for a basilica. With religious needs covered, the city does not suffer major problems due to its multiculturalism. It is what the former position of IU calls "peace of Roquetas", which he then associates with a "strong clientelist system based on giving many subsidies and, if not, on letting go". For Amat, on the other hand, it is to meet the needs of his municipality.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-06-07

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