The traditional photograph of the candidates in La Vanguardia forty years ago. Xavier Cervera has decided to celebrate them at the Besòs River Park, specifically at the viewpoint overlooking the mouth of the river. It is a well-known and spectacular landscape, which frames the three chimneys of the old thermal power station of Sant Adrià, a good part of the coast, many promises of a decontaminated and urbanistic future and a horizon preceded by the languid agony of El Besòs.

At ten in the morning, the sun shines over the water and allows visitors – cyclists, runners, dog walkers and some clueless homeless people – to admire phenomena such as the appearance of flying fish which, according to one of the organizers of the assembly, “they are the size of a chicken”. It’s as if they want to join the photographic ritual. The landscape includes a decidedly blue sky with distant aircraft contrails, a family of palm trees with burnt leaves and on the verge of dehydration and a sign that defines the area as a “Fishing Refuge”.

Like all the signs in the area – and in the rest of the city -, this one has also been conveniently vandalized with the classic oligophrenic, indigenous graffiti and completed with abstruse, common stickers that say: “OTORCSESCROTO 25 h.”, which m I prefer not to investigate.

There is an exceptional and newsworthy circumstance: one of the candidates will not come. Carles Puigdemont, leader of Junts, has declined the invitation and his party has also not wanted to send any substitute. It is an absence with a political message that, depending on the final result, can be interpreted in one way or another. Order of arrival of the candidates: Alejandro Fernández (PP), Pere Aragonès (ERC), Ignacio Garriga (Vox), Salvador Illa (PSC), Carlos Carrizosa (Cs), Jéssica Albiach (Comuns Sumar) and Laia Estrada (CUP).

First impressions: Fernández wears a cruise captain’s tan, Aragonès, a little shrunken, opts for the tie and, perhaps to imitate him, Illa also wears it to compete in the presidential halo. Carrizosa repeats the same model of summer Americana and vintage T-shirt, which defines the, presumably, farewell tour of a decadent group. Albiach dresses as if she were going to an independent music festival and Laia Estrada arrives late because, unlike her colleagues, she has come by train and taxi from the station.

More vaguely spontaneous impressions: Salvador Illa is the only candidate who goes up to the four police officers who are monitoring the area to greet them. Entourages of candidates are a form of random human grouping that is difficult to interpret. Security members participate, communication experts loaded with mobile phones, a family member who takes advantage of the Saturday sun to accompany the candidate relative and the typical organic sycophants manufactured by party directives.

Thanks to the foresight of Isabel Garcia Pagan, we protect ourselves from the sun (little joke: we are in the middle of a geomagnetic storm) with a thin layer of cream. The smell of the cream offsets the perfume of the area, which is not exactly lavender air freshener. But from the Forum of Cultures and the sewage treatment plant we learned that, imitating the attitude of those who have to live with the endearing smell of slurry, the secret lies in pretending that you don’t notice the stench. It is also a political attitude: understanding that a consensual degree of sacrifice helps to digest reality better, especially during an election period.

La Vanguardia has exhibited some of the covers of these forty years. It is an ideal resource so that, while waiting, candidates can comment on the play and overcome the awkwardness of not knowing what to say to each other. “I don’t recognize this one”, says Illa pointing to Teresa Sandoval, that fleeting candidate of the fleeting CDS. “This one is very cool!”, Aragonès exclaims with the rhetorical enthusiasm of a member of the jury of the Eufòria program.

Xavier Cervera places the candidates on a stage framed by the semi-wild magnificence of the landscape. Come in. On the right. To the left. A little more apart. Like this. Between disciplined and resigned, the candidates answer until the photographer explains why he chose this setting: the confluence of fresh water and salt water. The candidates do not seem to be enthused by the Zen lyricism of the explanation and when Cervera suggests that they not be so static, that they bring dynamism to the scene and that they incorporate some gesture of enthusiasm (“Imagine that it is tomorrow night and that you have won the elections”, he tells them), Fernández, this candidate who has more sympathy among those who do not plan to vote for him than among those who do, rebels by saying: “If we start with creativity, we already know how it ends the thing”.

Creativity, indeed, evolves: the candidates grab a glass of water (homage to a hypothetical Water Pact) and then walk towards the camera lens with a very photogenic determination, which some malevolent cinephile (probably abstentionist) could relate to the posters of the films Grupo salvaje or Reservoir dogs. As for the displays of enthusiasm, shy signs of victory and a thumbs up. Sign out. The candidates say goodbye with a cordiality that contrasts with the bad temper and irritation they have had to express in interviews, meetings and social networks. On the way to the car, they may have read a home-made poetic-vindictive message, painted on the asphalt, which could compete with the electoral slogans: “Los dosbien cogidos de la mano podremos con lo malo”.