C.L.A.R.Ois an independent political party formed in June, 2006 and officially registered in September that year by a group of men and women from Orihuela Costa who were fed up with the over-development of our area and the shameful lack of services, infrastructure and parks and gardens provided for residents by Orihuela Town Hall. Dialogue with the Town Hall had been tried unsuccessfully and we were finally convinced that the only way we could secure the improvements which were so desperately needed was to form an independent political party, contest local elections and seek representation in the local government of Orihuela.
C.L.A.R.O is a broadly based party with members coming from all the main population groups living in Orihuela Costa. Our 7 member Executive Committee are British, Spanish German speaking and Norwegian members. We are non-ideological, neither of the left nor the right. We are united by a desire to improve our quality of life and to make Orihuela Costa a CLEANER, GREENER, MORE INTEGRATED AND FRIENDLY place to live.
C.L.A.R.O has been remarkably successful. In the local election of 2007, contested only 8 months after registering as a political party, C.L.A.R.O secured 40% of the vote in Orihuela Costa, more than the two main parties, the Popular Party and the Socialist Party together. We did not, however, succeed in electing a councillor since the election laws are difficult for small parties, requiring 5% of the total vote to elect a first councillor.
In 2011, C.L.A.R.O contested the local election in an electoral alliance with the Centro Liberal Renovador Party (CLR). The alliance was a success and four of its members were elected including the President of C.L.A.R.O, Bob Houliston. The outcome of the election was that the Popular Party lost its majority for the first time in 25 years and a three-party coalition government was formed, consisting of the Socialist Party, the Greens and CLR-CLARO. Bob Houliston was appointed Councillor for the Coast.
The dream result of the 2011 election with the defeat of the Popular Party, a change of government and appointment of Bob Houliston as Councillor for the Coast was unfortunately quickly followed by harsh reality. The CLR leader, Pedro Mancebo, conducted a systematic campaign against the C.L.A.R.O team in the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall, seeking to reduce the responsibilities of the Councillor for the Coast and to establish a parallel administration. Moreover, he sought to divide C.L.A.R.O prior to its Annual General Meeting in Novemeber, 2011. This totally unexpected conflict. between the two parties in the successful electoral alliance was motivated by the desire of CLR to take over the running of the coast and to weaken C.L.A.R.O as the majority party of Orihuela Costa in order to pursue its own political ambitions. Unfortunately, there are other political strains within what became a four party coalition government after C.L.A.R.O was excluded by CLR from the political group CLR-CLARO.
The decision of the CLR group of councillors in the Town Hall in November, 2011 to expel Bob Houliston from the CLR-CLARO group set off a chain of consequences. In February, 2012, after three more months of attempts by CLR councillors to limit his competences, budget modifications which adversely affected Orihuela Costa and finally the removal of key staff from the Playa Flamenca office of the Town Hall, Bob Houliston, accompanied by his Advisor/Asesor Antonio Cerdan, resigned from the government. The Socialist/Green Party/CLR government became a minority government given that removal of the C.L.A.R.O. vote reduced its support to 12 of the total of 25 votes in the full council. In July, 2012, after some months of informal cooperation with the Popular Party on issues of interest to Orihuela Costa, C.L.AR.O. and the Popular Party negotiated a formal agreement to cooperate in government once the minority three-party government fell. This agreement was approved without opposition by an Extraordinary General Meeting of C.L.A.R.O. The text of the PP-CLARO agreement can be seen on the C.L.A.R.O. webpage in English, Spanish and German.
The expulsion of Bob Houliston from the CLR-CLARO group was followed by the expulsion of another elected CLR councillor from the group after she demonstrated discontent with the decisions and methods of her CLR colleagues and the minority government of which she was a member. As a result, the Mayor excluded her from the government. Although in an even more minority situation, legally the government could continue in office since the expulsions curtailed the rights of both Bob Houliston and the other expelled CLR councillor, including the right to vote in a motion of censure for a change of government. In January, 2013, the Mayor, representing the views of the Socialist and Green Party members, expelled Pedro Mancebo from the government because he was untrustworthy, not a team player and interfered with the functioning of Council departments headed by other councillors. The only remaining elected CLR councillor resigned in sympathy. The CLR-CLARO group which began as 4 elected councillors plus one unelected councillor was reduced to two.
Regrettably, as a result of the dissensions and disputes within its ranks, the government which took office in the summer of 2011 has now been reduced to an ultra minority status, lacking a democratic base with only 9 votes of the total 25 necessary to take decisions. However, it is intent on clinging on to power despite being unable to get approval for its proposals. At the same time, the two-party Socialist-Green Party government is preventing the PP-CLARO majority from governing. There is no means of knowing how long this undemocratic and anomalous situation can continue.