“Relegated to a library table and punished without a voice.” This is the complaint made this Tuesday by María Montero, parliamentarian of the Cortes de Castilla-León, who is considering going to the Constitutional Court in response to the “isolation” that she says she has suffered since she left Ciudadanos in March. He did not want to release the record and became non-attached. Her number of interventions and presence in the Chamber were limited after leaving the formation led by Inés Arrimadas, in accordance with the regulations of the Castilian-Leon Parliament which, according to her, limits her rights as a solicitor (a deputy of the Cortes of Castilla-León). “In other parliaments the rules are different,” says Montero by way of complaint. This is just one of the many muddles that Ciudadanos faces, after 14 regional deputies have left the party in recent months and have kept the minutes. In total, around 13% of its autonomous positions have abandoned their initials since the previous elections held in each territory. Almost everyone has clung to the couch and now they go on their own.
The last loss was that of the Basque deputy Luis Gordillo, who this Tuesday formalized his membership card with the PP. He is the only regional deputy who retains the act and who has joined the popular. The rest are now independent positions that either have passed from the Citizens’ parliamentary group to the mixed group, or they exercise as non-affiliated ones. To these autonomous positions are also added all the councilors who have withdrawn as affiliates: 76 in total, out of the 2,800 they obtained in the last municipal elections. Management sources assure that most of these councilors have also kept the minutes. In these cases, the party loses the possibility of replacing that person with another member of Ciudadanos, so their presence is diminishing in the institutions without new elections in sight.
The trickle of dropouts does not stop. As examples, that of the councilor of La Laguna (Tenerife), Alfredo Gómez, who left the party this Monday; and that of the mayor of Girona, Daniel Pamplona, expelled from Ciudadanos in recent weeks. Both have stuck to the minutes. “The party has changed course in the last year, but I continue with the same thesis, that is why I keep the minutes,” argues Pamplona. “And I don’t cross any legal lines. Other formations have contacted me afterwards, but right now I am not considering anything ”.
In Spain, nothing prevents public officials from leaving the party for which they stood for election and also keeping their minutes. The Government of the socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero tried to reform the Organic Law of the General Electoral Regime to be more restrictive in this regard, but the Constitutional Court rejected such possibility in a 2017 ruling. The court of guarantees then understood that the act belongs to the person and not the party or the list for which he participated in the elections. “That sentence was very controversial because it does not match a system like ours with closed lists: the doctrine is not unanimous in this regard,” explains Alejandro Corral, professor of Administrative Law at the CEU San Pablo University in Madrid. “This should evolve and there should be a regulatory change. Considering it normal that they can keep the act violates political morality ”, adds Pedro Nevado-Batalla, professor of Administrative Law at the University of Salamanca.
In the absence of state legislation, each autonomous Parliament establishes in its own regulations what consequences it has for the deputy to leave the party and keep the minutes. But even then there are dubious situations. Last week, the Canarian Parliament asked the Community Advisory Council to rule on a Citizens’ petition: that Parliamentarian Vidina Espino, already absent from the Arrimadas party, leave the mixed group and be relegated as not attached, with the respective damages economic and loss of participation that this entails. She resists.
The turn of the page is that of the four deputies from Murcia who were relegated from the party after the failed motion of censure. The Chamber’s regulations prevented them from being expelled from the Citizens’ parliamentary group. Last week they asked to change the name of the Citizens group to Liberal, but the Assembly prevented it. Another paradigmatic case is that of Melilla. Eduardo de Castro presided over the autonomous city until last April, when he left Ciudadanos. The Arrimadas formation expelled him because De Castro had concealed his status as a defendant in a case of alleged prevarication, but he also refused to leave the record. “Ciudadanos is a very weak party because it does not have a solid structure either in the grassroots or in the board of directors and the positions feel that they have no reference”, underlines Giselle García, PhD in Political Science at the University of Granada. “In addition to this context, some see their chair endangered by poor results in the polls.”
Sources from the Citizens’ leadership state that it is “true that they are living a difficult time.” And they add that whoever does not agree with the Executive’s decisions is free to leave. “Those who keep the minutes show that they are there for the couch and not for the service to citizens.” From the Courts of Castilla-León they allege that, with respect to their parliamentarian María Montero, there has not been any type of discrimination and that everything is in accordance with the regulations.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.