A small group of journalists receives Francisco Igea, vice-president of Castilla y León and one of the members of Ciudadanos most critical of the direction headed by Inés Arrimadas, in the gardens of the palace of the Dukes of Pastrana in Madrid, where the party celebrates this weekend a convention with the participation of about 300 militants. The first question goes to slaughter:
“What would have to get out of here for Citizens to survive?”
“Well, we’re alive…!”
Francisco Igea, who until the last minute had not received the invitation to a convention whose first objective is that, to launch the message that Ciudadanos still lives, arrives half an hour late. The deputy Edmundo Bal, deputy secretary general and national spokesman of the party, has already delivered an enthusiastic speech before militants and guests – “we are the only liberals, we are the right party, I am happy to be here” – in which, however, he admits bluntly that Ciudadanos has been wrong: “It is not hard for me to say it. It is not difficult for us to say that we have made mistakes and that we must take advantage of the successes of other parties ”.
The president of Ciudadanos, Inés Arrimadas, later named those errors: “It is not easy to govern in coalition when you are the small party. We have improved the governments in which we participate, but afterwards we have not been able to transmit those improvements ”.
The first day of the convention, which closes on Sunday, has focused on claiming, almost in a crushing way, the liberal character of Ciudadanos and its exclusivity within the Spanish political landscape. “It is true that it is not easy to be from Ciudadanos. Not comfortable. They insult you from one side and the other, but what they cannot accuse us of is governing badly where we govern. Everyone else has been involved in corruption cases, and we have not. Spain would be a worse country without us, a country given over to bipartisanship and populism. We are, therefore, the right party. The only liberal party in Spain is citizens, and that is what we are going to discuss today ”. Arrimadas later added: “There is nothing wrong with being a conservative or being a social democrat, but we are liberals.”
In addition to transmitting to the outside that Ciudadanos is still alive, the convention has another internal objective: to believe it. The party summoned several referents of European liberalism to hear in other languages that, although the circumstances are really bad, the liberal center must also have a space in Spanish politics. Hence, Edmundo Bal, to questions from journalists, cleared with more forcefulness than usual the runrún of a possible alliance with the PP: “There will be no merger with the PP.” And he added: “Liberalism in Spain is called Ciudadanos, it is not called PP. The PP is the conservative party. It is necessary to conserve the space of an independent, liberal and centered party ”.
What was not discussed on the first day of the Citizens’ political convention was transfuguism. It is already known that it is in bad taste to mention the rope in the house of the hanged man, but while those loyal to Arrimadas encouraged each other, the bleeding continues. In fact, the replicas of the failed motion of censure in Murcia continue to be produced. José Antonio Huertas, the mayor of Granada suspended from membership by Ciudadanos, will join the government team of the new socialist mayor.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.