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Leading Spanish social activist Ada Colau said Monday she would fight evictions, poverty and corruption after being elected mayor of the country's second city, Barcelona.

Colau, 41, has has taken part in anti-eviction protests and been led away by police in some - including one occasion when she occupied a bank.

She 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.

- The Associated Press