Ciudadanos celebrates this weekend a Political Convention with which Inés Arrimadas intends to turn the page of all these months of deep crisis in which the party has entered, especially with the electoral disasters harvested in Catalonia and Madrid, and after the long list of leaks and abandonments that have been happening. The objective, as the party leader has insisted in all her public statements, is to “refloat” the project and promote – “not bury”, party sources clarify – the Citizens’ brand, associated precisely with the latest defeats at the polls and the hostile opa undertaken by the PP to engulf them.
The Political Convention of Citizens: a conclave “to refloat” the party without changes in the name or in the project
In the two days that the conclave will last, the “liberal” character of a formation that was born to occupy the political center but has ended up heeled to the right – although its leaders deny it – will be emphasized after Arrimadas’ failure in his attempt to negotiate with the Government of Pedro Sánchez. The presence at the Convention of several leaders of the Renew group, to which Citizens in the European Parliament belongs, who will attend as guests and will cover Arrimadas, seeks to break with that “false image” that they are part of “the three rights”, to make the party’s “Europeanist” and “liberal” vocation clearly clear and mark its differences with the other two ‘families’, the Social Democratic and the Conservative. Hence the quote’s slogan is simply “Liberals.”
One of the internal criticisms that Arrimadas has had to endure throughout this year and a half of his mandate is the limited participation in the internal life of the party that the affiliates have. For this reason, facing the Convention, several members of the leadership, with Arrimadas herself at the helm, have launched in recent weeks to make a tour of various communities, where they have held meetings with the coordinators of the groups and have listened to the militants.
The convention presentations will, in fact, revolve around the topics chosen by the majority of the affiliates, who have “turned over” by sending more than 2,000 proposals, as explained in recent days by both the Deputy Secretary General for Communication, Daniel Pérez, as the organizer of the event, the Malaga deputy, Guillermo Díaz. This distancing of the leadership from the rank and file has led, according to management sources, “demotivation” and “loss of enthusiasm for many members of the project.” Proof of this is that the census has dropped alarmingly since 2019. Now they try to alleviate that disaffection.
The conclave is being held amidst controversy over whether Ciudadanos should join the PP, as Pablo Casado is trying by all means. The party leadership recognizes that this issue has been the object of interest by the affiliates, but that does not mean that the conclusions that are approved at the convention will issue a statement on the matter. It is not planned to set these criteria, nor to mark “ideological” changes in the project, which they consider to be valid for the future.
As the leader insisted, the important thing now is “to emphasize policies”, “in matters that really concern the Spanish.” “We must continue working and focus much more on content than on the continent” to “re-enthuse” the Spanish, offering a “moderate, courageous, well-managed” space that rejects the “fights” between PSOE and PP and that it faces “populism and nationalism,” Arrimadas warned in one of the press conferences in which he advanced some details of the convention.
Absence of Albert Rivera
The founder and former president of the party, Albert Rivera, will not attend the meeting, as is already known. But his shadow has planned all these days on this celebration, which also coincides with the 15 years of the birth of the formation. As both Arrimadas and the main leaders of the formation have explained, Rivera has been invited, “how could it be otherwise”, through various channels. But he has declined to attend, claiming that he decided to leave the political front line on the day of his resignation and that he is now focused on his work as a lawyer and his private life.
These explanations have not finished convincing since a lot is being said about the role that the former leader of Ciudadanos is playing. More than one places him at the head of the operation that his former Number Three, Fran Hervías, to destroy Ciudadanos inside and promote a merger with the PP. But the current leadership denies such extreme and insist that Rivera “is not in it.” The leaders who speak with him from time to time coincide in pointing out that he is “happy” and “focused on his professional activity at his firm”, downplaying the fact that Genoa has commissioned him to prepare several unconstitutional appeals that the PP announced on the rent law of Catalonia or the Education law, promoted by the former minister, Isabel Celaá.
This Convention is also being questioned by the critical platform Renovadores Cs that continues to promote signatures to force an extraordinary Congress. This group held a telematic meeting last Sunday – Open Assembly – alternative to the official conclave in which they debated and voted on the issues that they say “really interest the affiliates.” The participants rejected the possibility of “previous” pacts and agreements with any party. According to the press release sent to the media, the participants made it clear that during the campaigns “Citizens should not establish preferential agreements or previous agreements”, but rather “a protocol that takes into account our programmatic lines of improvement, modernity and that benefit the whole of Spanish society “.
The digital diary The Independent published this Tuesday that “various positions of Citizens in the Community of Madrid, but also in Andalusia”, have begun to organize to launch a new project that is gaining followers, especially within municipalities. The supposed party’s ultimate objective would be to attend the next local elections in 2023, with councilors and former leaders who still have the liberal party card.
Oblivious to all those dimes and diretes, in the direction of Citizens they want all the media focus to focus this weekend on these two days of the Convention. For this, he has called all groups to rebuke since they fear that the premises of the Madrid-based Duque de Pastrana will not be full. The party has issued 300 invitations.
The presentations that are foreseen in the Convention, from which a series of conclusions will come out that will serve to define the new “road map” of the party, will revolve around the need to deal with Science and plan a “Green Agenda”. The second block will deal with “the center as a necessary space” together with the “value of liberalism”, a presentation to which the director of the newspaper has been invited to participate. The Spanish, Pedro J. Ramírez. The challenge of “Renewing Europe” will also be discussed; “The Spain of freedoms and rights”; and the “Spain of the future”.
The Convention will be divided into two days: on Saturday morning there will be some sector tables that can be followed publicly. Throughout that afternoon there will be four work tables with members, which will be behind closed doors. The day on Sunday will also be dedicated to finalizing the debates in the other presentations.
The Convention will be closed that Sunday by Arrimadas with a speech. The leaders of Ciudadanos are convinced that from there they will come out “more united” and eager to work to overcome the pothole and face the next appointments with the polls “with charged batteries.” The closest, if there are no surprises, is the one that can occur in Andalusia. The Andalusian CIS polls predict there a notable drop in the party led by Manuel Marín, -from 21 seats they would remain with 7 or 8- and a significant rise in the PP, which together with the Vox seats -which would maintain its current 12- would guarantee an absolute majority between both parties.