It was an open secret. Early on Tuesday morning, a WhatsApp message traveled through the phones of journalists in Malaga. The mayor summoned the press. “If you can not come tell a colleague“, he prayed. The call was from the Popular Group, but in the party (and among the councilors of the City Council) nobody knew anything. the clueless did. Francisco de la Torre would announce that he would once again be a candidate for Mayor.
The veteran alderman, who will be eighty years old on December 21 this year, wants to continue. He now faces his next big challenge: getting his sixth consecutive term since leaving Celia Villalobos in 2000 on the way to the Government of Aznar, he placed him at the head of the city.
More than two decades as mayor of Malaga have given of themselves. The city’s population has grown by almost 10%, the museums have multiplied and large multinationals have landed: Google, Vodafone or Citi have put the capital of the Costa del Sol on the world map as the third destination in Spain, behind Madrid and looking Barcelona in the eye.
[Reacciones a la decisión de De la Torre de repetir como candidato: “Reúne un perfil indiscutible de liderazgo”]
Since De la Torre arrived at the Park House, where the malacitano consistory is based, there are many milestones (positive and negative) to remember. Now that he will repeat as a candidate and hopes to occupy the Mayor’s Office until 2027, we will review his career.
It was the year 2000. In March Aznar had won the national elections with an absolute majority. The President of the Government awarded some of the figures best known of his party: Celia Villalobos, the first popular mayor of Malaga, had just swept the municipal elections a year earlier. She took it as Minister of Health. The rest is history.
[De las vacas locas al ‘Candy Crush’: Celia Villalobos, la Medalla de Málaga que nunca dejó indiferente]
At that time, an already veteran councilor occupied the Urbanism Area. Paco de la Torre, a lifelong politician born in 1942. At that time he had already been a Court Attorney for Malaga between 1971 and 1976, during which time he was President of the Provincial Council. His profile was the opposite of Villalobos’s. the former mayor, populous and spontaneous; De la Torre, serious and calm.
Shortly after taking office, he had to suffer the murder of one of his councillors, Jose Maria Martin Carpena at the hands of the terrorist group ETA. The PP had to recompose the team of councilors and an unknown entered the Government Elijah Bendodo.
Bendodo has been de la Torre’s nemesis for years. The eternal dolphin who, finally, has ended up reaching national politics without going through the pending challenge for him: the Mayor’s Office.
A ‘new’ city
De la Torre’s hand has been in the complete reconversion of the Center of the capital. For the locals, one of the most outstanding works was the remodeling of Calle Larios, today an icon of the city and in the past freeway urban.
It was the major project of the mayor and culminated in 2002, months before the municipal elections in which he would have to face the polls for the first time as a candidate. He got almost 50% of the votes and 17 councilors. The project to reconvert the city continued: the Paseo del Parque was remodeled, the surroundings of the Cathedral and pedestrianized almost the entire Historic Center.
The aesthetic renewal of the most visited area is one of the keys to the resurgence of tourism in Malaga. A city new over the traditional. A step in the city project that, not infrequently, has been criticized by the opposition and neighborhood movements.
The capital of the province has become, during the mandates of De la Torre, a cultural reference. Undoubtedly, the great change was the vindication of the figure of Picasso, who until the 1980s was capitalized by Barcelona or Paris, where the genius from Malaga developed almost his entire career.
With the excuse of the universal painter, De la Torre has been creating a system of museums that has included the presence of local headquarters of major brands such as the Thyssen, the Pompidou or the Collection of the Russian Museum. It has even come to sound like the headquarters of L’Hermitage if, finally, Barcelona did not host this project.
By way of franchises or with significant investments, the museum model of Malaga has served to generate a brand of cultural city that, despite its attempts, failed to be European Capital of Culture in 2016marking this one of the frustrated projects in the career of the veteran mayor.
De la Torre has also been one of the most important elements in attracting investment to Malaga. One of the most striking and that has placed the city as a previously unimaginable destination is the arrival of Google. The mayor’s negotiations between the multinational and public and private administrations were key in the acquisition of the building that will house the headquarters of the American multinational’s cybersecurity center.
He has also bet on the city Vodafone. The telecommunications multinational is setting up a center where more than 600 highly qualified workers are expected to arrive.
The City Council has tried benefit of the pandemic in the sense of attracting relocated workers. The project Malaga WorkBay it is part of the strategy to diversify the economic sectors. In addition to sun and beach, also technology.
But not everything has been a bed of roses in these 22 years. De la Torre has aimed high for the Copa América in this 2021. He wanted the city to host a major world sporting event, But the plans didn’t go the way I wanted. His bet was not enough, despite having the Junta de Andalucía on your side Barcelona was finally chosen.
It has not been the first time that Malaga has been left at the gates. This same year he chose to be European Capital of Innovation, and came in second place. Barcelona also beat him to host the European Medicines Agency. But the first big bump was that of the European Cultural Capital what I wanted for 2016.
But, without a doubt, the worst moment of his political life was the one he lived in April 2020. The pandemic had just arrived, De la Torre suffered a stroke which forced him to temporarily stop his activity. She recovered quickly and successfully.
2027, retreat with the Expo?
But De la Torre seems to want backing out cutting the ribbon for Expo 2027, the great event in which Malaga has put all its meat on the grill. It hopes to host the Specialized Exhibition in six years. Minnesota (USA), phuket (Thailand), Belgrade (Serbia) and San Carlos de Bariloche (Argentina) are the rivals of the Andalusian city to host the Specialized Exhibition.
The Malaga candidacy is based on the motto The Urban Era: towards the Sustainable Cityand if it is the winner, it would take place in the capital of the Costa del Sol between June 5 and September 5, 2027.
There is still time to get excited and it is expected that the waiting time will not be very long: the decision of the BIE is scheduled for the end of 2022 and Malaga wants to be the best prepared candidate. For this reason, last Friday the Local Government Board approved a budget item of 380,000 euros for the promotion of this candidacy.
Follow the topics that interest you