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Anti-eviction campaigner promises change in Barcelona

The leader of leftist coalition Barcelona Together, Ada Colau, foreground celebrates the victory of her party after elections in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, May 24, 2015. New parties won strong support in Spain's local elections Sunday as voters turned their back on the country's traditional political heavyweights, an exit poll indicated. There was also an upset in Barcelona, where a popular anti-eviction campaigner backed by We Can was poised to unseat the region's long dominant and conservative Convergence and Union party. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Leading Spanish social activist Ada Colau said Monday the fight against evictions, poverty and corruption will be her priority as new mayor of the country’s second city, Barcelona.

Colau, 41, told a news conference she intends to halt evictions of people who can’t afford to pay their mortgage or rent and will demand that banks free up the thousands of empty houses they possess.

Backed by the new far-left We Can party that has shaken up Spanish politics, Colau beat the candidate of the Catalonia region’s long-dominant conservative Convergence and Union party in Sunday’s local elections in Spain.

Colau has said she is in favor of a referendum on Catalonian independence but her political grouping, called Barcelona Together, hasn’t said whether it favors a break with Spain, as several other Catalan parties do.

Formerly the head of Spain’s active anti-eviction movement, Colau said her victory demonstrated the desire for change in Spain after years of economic crisis and political corruption scandals. The governing Popular Party’s support dropped significantly.

During her activism, Colau has taken part in anti-eviction protests and been led away by police in some.

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