‘European liberals are at the convention of Citizens (Cs). They are not at another party’s convention, because Cs is the Liberal Party Spanish”. That slogan, pronounced by Ines Arrimadas in the presentation ‘Renew Europe’, synthesizes the objective of the national convention that is celebrated this weekend in Madrid Palace of the Dukes of Pastrana. No more no less. Differentiate from Popular Party (PP) as a liberal space in all areas of life. In this forum, while the popular people celebrate their Galician congress, Cs has once again completely ruled out a future merger with those of Pablo Casado. “There will be no merger with the PP”, has settled Edmundo Bal.
Arrimadas has surrounded himself with liberal figures of European parliamentarism to highlight the ideological spectrum in which Cs is situated. Sources of the national leadership explained in groups with the press that in this convention the liberal label will be reborn as the flagship of the party. Faced with the uncertainty of the center, which they want to occupy, they say in Cs, the formation wants to put the focus on the field of ideas. An economic liberalism, yes, but also a social one. Individual freedom for everything, with the freedom of others and the law as the only limits.
European liberals participated as the president of the group in this Saturday’s central presentation Renew Europe, Dacian Ciolos, the German deputy and former vice president of the European Parliament Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, or the Hungarian MEP Katalin Cseh. All of them have shared different perspectives -Cseh by videoconference-, in a scenario shared with Arrimadas and with the leader of the European delegation of Cs, Luis Garicano.
Ciolos, former Prime Minister of Romania, has identified Cs as “the liberal party of Spain” and has said that there are conservative parties that boast of being liberal without being so. “There is nothing wrong with being a conservative, but there is nothing liberal about being one,” Arrimadas later added, clearly alluding to the PP. But especially relevant for Cs, in a critical situation and on the verge of disappearance in the last published polls, has been the testimony of Graf Lambsdorff. The German knows what it is like to rebuild the liberal space in his country, after the Liberal Democratic Party fell into extra-parliamentarism in 2013 and returned to Bundestag in 2017 with eighty deputies.
Battle against populism
Cseh, for its part, has highlighted the importance of overcoming the cultural battle by populism and has been moved when Arrimadas has applauded his courage to face the policies of the Government led by Viktor Orbán. Graf Lambsdorff has also stressed the importance of not agreeing or “never talking” with populist parties such as United we can O Vox.
The spokesperson for Cs, Edmundo bal, asked later by the governments of PP and Cs that depend on the external support of Vox, has asserted that they do not enter into decisions of other parties and that they are only willing to sign government agreements with the PP and with the PSOE -Although sources of the formation have qualified after that the sanchismo has moved away from the social democracy and only seeks to perpetuate itself in power-. Before, the vice president of Castilla y León, Francisco Igea, has advocated the need to build an “independent” space, but has warned that the PSOE now pacts with “illiberalism.”
In the inaugural speech, much applauded by the Cs militancy, Bal has acknowledged “errors” without specifying any, but after Arrimadas has pointed out one: his inability to assert his contribution to the coalition governments of those who form – or have formed- part. In the case of Madrid’s community, Bal has exemplified in an attention to the media, publicly praised the economic management of Isabel Diaz Ayuso without acknowledging the merit of Manuel Gimenez (Cs), who was his economic advisor.
Two threats: Covid-19 and climate change
In the previous presentation, ‘Science and the green agenda’, deputy Guillermo Diaz has talked with the economist Isidore Tapia and with the nuclear physicist Eduardo López-Collazo on the effects of coronavirus pandemic in Spain and on the climate change. The two, in the future, have underlined the importance of betting on science and innovation, since according to them 90 percent of the fight against global warming depends on innovation and only 10 percent on changes in people’s behavior. individual.
Later, the director of ‘El Español’, Pedro J. Ramirez, has lectured on the liberalism in Spain and has received the biggest ovation of the morning after a speech in which the figure of the former president has applauded Adolfo Suarez, has reproached Cs for not trying to agree with the PSOE when the two parties they added 180 seats, but above all it has explained the difference between being or not being truly liberal. He is only liberal, he pointed out, who is in favor of human rights and market freedom at the same time. Who defends individual freedom with respect for the law in a state of law. The three hundred attendees, from Arrimadas to the last member, stood up at the end of his speech and cheered him for several minutes.
This afternoon, at a convention from which Cs intends to leave reinforced and get rid of the PP’s ‘bear hug’, it will be the turn of the Work groups among the affiliates, in which they will debate behind closed doors on different fields of liberalism to try to draw conclusions that will serve, tomorrow, as new flags of the party. Arrimadas, for today, has called on his people to continue fighting: «I’ll take what Alexander said: the rank and file of his party did not lose faith in the liberal project. So that’s what we have to do: don’t lose faith».
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism