Albert Rivera left the presidency of Ciudadanos and the first political line on November 11, 2019, just a few hours after having conceded a resounding defeat in the generals held the day before, in which his party lost 47 seats, going from 57 achieved in April of that year, at the 10 that he achieved in that appointment with the polls. Since then, the former leader of the formation born 15 years ago –on June 7, 2006– has completely distanced himself from the party that he himself founded due to the turn to the center undertaken by his successor, Inés Arrimadas. In parallel, Rivera has been approaching the Popular Party of Pablo Casado, for which he has worked directly on at least two occasions from his law office.
Rivera distances himself from Arrimadas and the new direction of Ciudadanos
Almost two years after his resignation, the shadow of the former leader of Ciudadanos flies over in the direction of the popular, who for months has been seeking the absorption of the remnants of the Arrimadas party into the PP as a first step to overcome the division of the rights in three – PP, Vox and Ciudadanos – that since 2018 have weighed down their electoral results.
The objective of this integration, which has already been partially achieved in recent months – especially at the electoral level, with the disappearance of Citizens in the Community of Madrid in the May elections and with the transfer of all their votes to the popular -, is to have options to get to Moncloa. This is a possibility that some polls already point to, as soon as Pedro Sánchez decides to call the general ones, although the President of the Government has stressed that he does not plan to advance them, so they will not be held until at least 2023.
The one who was Rivera’s top man of confidence in Ciudadanos, the former secretary of Organización Fran Hervías, now works in the PP, with his own office in the noble floor of Génova 13 and in close collaboration with the general secretary of the popular, Teodoro García Aegean. He is directly attributed the signings of former leaders of the Arrimadas formation, including the most controversial: that of the former Valencian Citizen parliamentarian Toni Cantó, captured by the PP for the May 4 elections in Madrid.
Due to the imposition of Casado’s management, the candidate and today president Isabel Díaz Ayuso also included the actor in her lists, but the candidacy was annulled by the Electoral Board since Cantó was not registered in Madrid within the deadline and, therefore, did not comply the requirements to stand for election. He continued to campaign for Ayuso, who on day 1 rewarded him for all that work by placing him at the head of a newly created public body, the Office of Spanish of the Community of Madrid, a position for which the former Citizen leader will charge more than 75,000 euros a year.
Participation in the October conclave
The great objective of Hervías, according to different popular leaders, is the signing of Albert Rivera himself by the PP, in order to stage a kind of culmination of that absorption process by adding to the popular ranks the one who was the founder and leader of Citizens for 13 years.
In the party chaired by Pablo Casado, different positions privately consider that this incorporation could facilitate the PP leadership its intention to attract the more center-right electorate, at a time when Genoa 13 is betting, on the other hand, on following up on the extreme right of Vox – his other great electoral rival and whom they also plan to absorb, although more in the long term -, temporizing with his speech and his agenda, accepting some of his policies or agreeing with Abascal’s party to be able to govern in Madrid and maintain the Executives of Andalusia, the Region of Murcia or the city council of the capital.
So far, the rapprochement between Rivera and the PP has materialized in the hiring by the direction of Casado of the law firm chaired by the former leader of Citizens for the preparation of two of the appeals presented by the popular before the courts in the last months: the one registered in the Constitutional Court against the new education law of the Government, known as the Celaá Law, and the one presented before that same instance against the Catalan rent law.
Genoa 13 also encourages the possibility of Rivera being one of its star guests at the National Convention next fall. There is no official confirmation that finally the former president of Ciudadanos will attend either as a guest or as a speaker, but every time they are asked, both the official sources of the national leadership of the PP and its top officials avoid discarding it. This last week, several information published in the press spoke of this possibility. The Independent assured that Rivera is already Casado’s “head advisor”, an extreme denied by his team, and The reason took for granted his participation in the fall convention, also officially denied.
“It is not true that Albert Rivera is an advisor to the PP, and it is not true that there is a labor relationship in that sense,” said the party’s deputy secretary of Communication, Pablo Montesinos, on Tuesday, in an interview with RNE. And regarding the possible participation of the former Citizen leader in the convention that will take place in Valencia, official sources point out the following: “He has not been spoken to nor has it been decided.”
“Cordial” relations with Citizens
In the midst of Rivera’s idyll with the PP, sources from the leadership of his ex-party, Ciudadanos – whose distance with the popular ones continues to grow, this week after losing the mayor’s office of Granada that they maintained in coalition since 2019 – assure that relations with the former leader of the formation who calls himself “liberal” are “cordial”, despite what some “interestedly” want to convey. “There are many of us who from the management maintain regular contact with Albert. It is not an exception that we speak with him. It has been all very natural,” say the sources consulted.
Regarding his participation in the convention that Ciudadanos is holding this weekend, to which Rivera announced that he was not going to participate, the sources consulted asked the following question: “How could Albert not be invited?” “Of course we have asked him, but we imagined that he would not want to because we know that he has shelved politics and this is going to be a political convention.” For this reason they understand that he has declined to participate while insisting that they do not see it “as a slamming door”, but as a “coherent position” with the decision he made on November 11 to leave all his positions. “There is no more, there really is no more,” they repeat. “Personally he is very well and very happy,” says one of these leaders who maintains regular contact with Rivera.
The sources consulted also do not give credibility to the possibility that Rivera appears in the conclave organized by Pablo Casado’s PP in the fall and they emphasize that “there are many things that are being published that later have to be rectified.”
For his part, Arrimadas recently acknowledged that he spoke very occasionally with Rivera and that their conversations were limited to “personal” topics, from their “private lives.” A few days ago it was the Citizen leader who confirmed that the party’s leadership had invited her to the event – without clarifying whether it was her personally – but that Rivera, “in coherence with what she decided,” replied “that he left the political front line and now it is in the private sector ”, and, therefore,“ does not participate in these events. ”“ But he thanked us for the invitation. We have a very cordial relationship with him, how could it be otherwise, “he remarked.
Coldness between Arrimadas and Rivera
However, within the party they recognize that from the beginning Rivera did not share the strategy and the turn that his successor took at the beginning of the pandemic by agreeing with Pedro Sánchez all the states of alarm, much less General State Budgets than the leader of the PSOE ended up closing with ERC and EH Bildu. The former party leader made clear his distancing from Arrimadas with a clamorous silence from his Twitter account, from which he attacked Sánchez and praised other leaders of his party – such as the deputy mayor of Madrid, Begoña Villacís – but not the new leader of the formation, which he ignored.
The coldness of their relations reached such an extreme that Rivera did not plan to participate in the General Assembly held in April 2020 telematically, in which Arrimadas was ratified as president after winning Francisco Igea, now vice president of Castilla, in a close primary. and Leon. Faced with the amazement caused by his absence from that important conclave, that of the leadership replacement, in the end Rivera rectified and sent a compromise video to say goodbye to the militancy and wish “luck and success” to the new leadership to which he encouraged – without to mention especially Arrimadas – to work to recover the ribbon of the 57 deputies achieved in the general elections of April 28, 2019. “With those numbers on the horizon, we will rebuild Citizens to rebuild Spain together,” he invited them,
In the party they justify that Rivera decided in the end to participate then in that Assembly and his refusal now, explaining that “the two appointments have nothing to do with it.” “That was an organic assembly and this is only a political convention”, they affirm. However, they see “normal” for him to participate, as announced, along with several leaders of the PP in some courses on “Press and Power” in Aranda de Duero (Burgos), given the “brilliant career” that the former leader of Citizens has in that terrain. These courses have been organized by the Gabrielistas of Aranda del Duero, and by the Madrid Distance University (UDIMA).