With the polls leaving them out of Parliament, Ciudadanos has once again regained the media focus. “What happen to you?”, they all asked Inés Arrimadas and Edmundo Bal – separately because they did not even greet each other – in the groups after the Constitution Day act this Tuesday in Congress. What follows is an explanation of what is happening and will happen in Ciudadanos in the coming weeks: why this situation has come to be, what are the options on the table, what decisions must be made and when. spoilers: They have less than 23 days to decide who is running for the primaries.
Andalusia, ‘ground zero’ of the catastrophe
19J was not another electoral date for any party. The absolute majority of Juanma Moreno turned any other result into defeat, some more difficult to accept than others. citizens lost all 21 seats that they had given him the vice-presidency of the Board, going on to govern nothing. If the demoscopia had already set off the alarms, the Andalusians blew everything up.
“There we already saw that we could not continue like this,” he tells Public a weight leader of the party. In four years they have lost all the autonomous governments, they have sunk in Catalonia (from 36 to 6 deputies) and the best of the scenarios that they manage for the general elections would give them only one seat.
An opaque refoundation process
But it was still the month of June. A week after the catastrophe, Arrimadas announces a process of refounding Ciudadanos to “renew the program, teams, brand and leadership.” Sheet metal and paint for a party that, according to what its own leader said at the time, was no longer perceived “as useful by the Spanish.”
On Monday June 19, at an Executive meeting, Arrimadas unfolded his plan and the first suspicions appeared. A Confidentiality clause to which the members of the work team that was created to “re-found the liberal project” of Cs submitted generated mistrust in some leaders. In addition, according to various sources consulted by this newspaper, Arrimadas promised to step aside once the ‘facelift’ of the party had finished. Something that they deny from the environment of the president of Ciudadanos, that she did say in public that she would put her position “available to members”.
Edmundo Bal’s entourage now maintains that the re-founding has been done “in the Louis XIV style”, in an opaque way and without “not even the work team having the data on the most important process since the party was formed.” They also slip that “it seems that this was done to continue keeping Arrimadas” in the first political line.
The law of only ‘yes is yes’ broke out the war
To reach this moment, in which the State lawyer, deputy spokesman for Arrimadas in Congress and vice-secretary of the party, and his supporters fully charge against Arrimadas, it is necessary to focus not only on the organic, but above all on the political. Because in August, less than four months ago, Bal defined himself as the “faithful squire” of Arrimadas. The refounding process that he now questions was already underway.
The “pitched battle”, as the president of Ciudadanos defined it, began two weeks ago on account of a discussion between the two over the law of only yes is yes. Bal, according to his own defense, convinced the party to vote in favor of the norm. It was a collegiate decision between the parliamentary group that now, after the controversy over the reduction of sentences, Arrimadas questioned. What has caused this? A war between the two that is disputed in the ideological field: Bal criticizes Arrimadas’s conservative drift, while she replies that “being a progressive is getting far away from Irene Montero.”
What is ‘bicephaly’?
In the middle of the war the re-founding continues. The last breath of a party that could now be in the Moncloa if Albert Rivera had agreed with Pedro Sánchez. In this sense, the other issue that confronts the two most visible faces of Ciudadanos is the proposal for a two-headed presidency model: a political leader, who would be the president, and a secretary general, who would have organic power. Similar to the structure of the PNV, although in Cs they reject this comparison.
The news hit the media in mid-November, before the controversy over the law of only yes is yes. Arrimadas, he said then, seemed fine and opened the door to tie himself to the position of political leader in that two-headed model. The alarms went off. “We saw there that he did not want to leave,” says a member of the Executive.
This is the argument that Edmundo Bal maintains for having taken a step forward and presenting his candidacy for the primaries in an attempt to remove Arrimadas from the presidency of the party. Open fire between the two for whose cessation there is only one way: “a candidacy for unity” that is not led by either of them.
Adrián Vázquez, the name that “is in everyone’s head”
“Adrián Vázquez is the name that is in everyone’s head,” they assure Public sources of the orange formation. Adrian Vazquez Lazara (Madrid, 1982) is a Citizens MEP and Chairman of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) in Brussels. He coordinated Albert Rivera’s international agenda and worked closely with Luis Garicano. A young, fresh face, away from the noise and internal controversies and with a credible and solvent profile. It is the description in which various leaders of Ciudadanos agree. Vázquez, for the moment, is reluctant to take a step forward.
The primaries: January 11 and 12
They have little time to decide. The situation right now is as follows: Arrimadas assures that if Bal does not withdraw his candidacy, he will head a list for the primaries; the state’s attorney is unwilling to give in to what he considers “blackmail” and hasn’t budged; there is only a third way to avoid the crash. Members will vote on next 11 and 12 January. The term to present candidacies ends on December 30 and the campaign will be held from January 2 to 10.
General Assembly: January 13, 14 and 15
Immediately afterwards, on the 13th, 14th and 15th, the extraordinary General Assembly will be held. An appointment that is designed to ratify the catharsis of Citizens and embark on a new course as a party, with local and regional elections on the ever closer horizon.