“The 2019 negotiation was a mistake, we gave four governments to the PP” | Spain

Inés Arrimadas, president and deputy of Ciudadanos.
Inés Arrimadas, president and deputy of Ciudadanos.pedro ruiz

Inés Arrimadas (Jerez de la Frontera, 40 years old) now faces, with the early elections in Castilla y León and the wild rupture there with the PP, the umpteenth crisis and the threat of disappearance of Ciudadanos since in March 2020, she assumed the telematically the presidency of that formation. In late pregnancy with her second child, Arrimadas accepts that politically it is her turn to deal with bad times again.

Ask. Does Alfonso Fernández Mañueco say that you know perfectly well what was happening in Castilla y León between the PP and Ciudadanos to justify the early elections there, implying that he had told you that he was feeling betrayed by his former partner and former vice president Francisco Igea?

Answer. I know what he was telling me in private, which is what he was saying in public five days before calling, and that is that the agreement was working normally, that the Government was solid, and that it was even possible to govern with extended Budgets. And nothing has changed. He has been found to be super uncomfortable. In Castilla y León there has already been a motion of censure and Citizens have already voted against it. That Mañueco does not look for excuses, that what he has done is to be obedient to Pablo Casado. The election decision was made by Casado in Madrid.

P. At no time did Mañueco comment to you, in the private conversation that they had a few hours before, something about the misbehavior of Francisco Igea or that the situation was at the limit?

R. On Sunday morning, 24 hours before he called, we were talking about the Budget plenary session, that they could get ahead, and that it was even possible to govern with extended Budgets. If he says that, there was no suspicion of anything. Was he then lying to the Castilian-Leonese whenever he said that the Government was doing well and normally until the day the elections were called?

P. Did Manueco never alert you that your relationship with Igea was deteriorating?

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R. That situation is the same since the legislature began. Paco Igea is the same from day one. That has not changed. There is no supervening situation. And there is an irrefutable fact: what a coincidence that, in the places where they cannot call elections, they do not need an excuse and therefore there are no rumors of a vote of censure. For example, in the city councils of Madrid or Zaragoza, two very important cities, where we govern with the PP. Igea, two days before, proposed joint lists with the PP. There is no one who believes that a person who is publicly betting on joint lists can be told that they are not loyal.

P. Do you have any data to suspect that Mañueco wants these elections to break the agenda and prevent talk of upcoming corruption processes of the PP in Castilla y León?

R. There could have been several factors. Undoubtedly, the judicial agenda of the corruption of the PP can influence, but I believe that the trigger has been Casado’s order from Madrid because he needs to cover up Ayuso’s victory and use the territories as stepping stones to try to reach La Moncloa. And that maneuver is worthy of the bipartisanship and of Pedro Sánchez. I harshly criticized what Sánchez did with Minister Salvador Illa to force elections in Catalonia in the middle of the third wave of the pandemic and I criticize what Mañueco is doing now.

P. Does the 13-F panorama appear more than complicated now for Cs in Castilla y León? Could it happen that if Mañueco needs them to continue governing, they would again agree with that PP?

R. What we are going to defend is the good government agreement, which Luis Tudanca’s PSOE attacked with an infamous motion of censure a few months ago and which Mañueco is now attacking by dynamiting the Government.

P. Yes, but if all this brought him back to Mañueco, would they make a deal with him again?

R. Now what Mañueco has wanted is to blow up all the bridges with Citizens. Here we go out to win. The time has come for Spain to talk about the content of the agreements.

P. Is it reasonable to say now that they come out to win?

R. We went out to get the best result. We are not going to spend the entire campaign saying to whom we are going to give our votes. We are going to explain what policies we are going to defend.

P. Will there be primaries in Ciudadanos and when will that process be resolved? Because there is not much time until the campaign.

R. You have to comply with the statutes. There is a meeting this Monday of the autonomous committee of Castilla y León, and we want the proposal that reaches us to the national executive committee to come from the colleagues there and that it be of consensus. We are in an extraordinary situation and different decisions can be made, but in any case it will come from Castilla y León.

P. Many people in Spain wonder how, after the Murcia, Madrid and Castilla y León cases, you still trust the PP in other governments.

R. Seeing what has happened, what I have to say is that the negotiation that my party made in 2019 was a serious mistake, because the four presidencies of the autonomous communities were given to the PP at a time when they had obtained their worst result. And it was a mistake because we already see how they use them. If they had been loyal partners there would have been no problem, but seeing as how they have used the nuclear advance button, we certainly could have negotiated much better. You cannot give a bipartisan party so much power for free because we already know how they use it.

P. What would you have demanded differently if you had been in charge of Ciudadanos?

R. What is clear is that you cannot give the regional presidencies to any bipartisan party. In Madrid, Zaragoza and in 130 municipalities where we govern with the PP there has been no suspicion of a motion of censure. It was the PP that took over the Granada government and gave it to the PSOE. And with the PSOE we also have local agreements that work well. That is, the government agreements have to continue the life derived from the execution of that agreement. They cannot be pieces in chess, as Sánchez and Casado do.

P. For what he is saying, both Begoña Villacís and Juan Marín should be calm governing with the PP in the capital and in Andalusia.

R. Almeida cannot advance elections. And I tell Almeida that we are not going to be as disloyal as they are, that we could do it but we are not going to do it. And in Andalusia I hope that Juanma Moreno does endure the pressures of Genoa.

P. I think Moreno has told him privately that he is going to hold out.

R. What he has told me in private is the same as he says in public, that the Government of Andalusia is ahead, that the legislature must be exhausted because there are many projects that have to be approved in the first half of 2022. In Andalusia we do have a Vox-PSOE clamp that is attacking the Government, and in Castilla y León there was not even that.

P. Looking ahead to the next general elections, is Married to be trusted for Citizens?

R. That is why Ciudadanos was born, because we have two parties whose leaders have never worked outside of politics and who are capable of doing anything to defend their parties instead of their country. That is why Ciudadanos is a key piece. All of our leaders have a life and they know what it is to work outside of politics, and in the face of bipartisanship we know that what Spain needs are State agreements. The Sánchez government seems to me the worst of democracy, due to its cessions to nationalism and populism, and Ciudadanos is a fundamental piece for there to be an alternative to that.

P. I was asking about Married …

R. It is that Casado never had doubts that there was not going to be a motion of censure in Castilla y León. There was already one and it was voted against. It is that you cannot speak in the future alone. The Government where the loyalty of the partners has been most tested is precisely that of Castilla y León. The PSOE already tried to buy the Citizens and they voted not with both hands.

P. You have said that Casado has not called you to give you an explanation. That is normal?

R. No, he hasn’t called. I suppose you won’t have a very clear conscience. You know this is a hoax and you need to strengthen your internal leadership, because it is not easy for you.

P. Everyone reproaches Albert Rivera, his predecessor, for not facilitating a Government of 180 deputies with Pedro Sánchez in 2018. If in the following elections the results gave options for an agreement between this PSOE and its Citizens, would you allow that solution?

R. As president of Ciudadanos, I reached out to Sánchez to agree on some good Budgets for Spain in the midst of a pandemic, to remove Bildu and ERC from the equation and he elected them in front of all of Spain. And that will have to penalize you.

P. I was wondering if in the future the option of a PSOE Government and Citizens alone could be given again. Because when you offered that, Sánchez already had investiture partners.

R. Sánchez appeared in the elections saying that he had neither Bildu nor water. I’m not going to normalize that. They tell me future and I say recent past. I don’t think Sánchez is going to change much in a few months or two years.

P. There is a fairly general coincidence that the frustrated censorship operation in Murcia was the sentence for Ciudadanos. Is there life for Citizens on the Spanish political map?

R. Spain deserves that we do not fall into this bibloquism of a totally unrecognizable PSOE, sanchista, thrown to Podemos and a PP that increasingly competes with Vox. There is no wonder what will happen to Ciudadanos. You have to ask yourself what will happen to Spain if there is no party like Ciudadanos. Spain is better with Ciudadanos. Spain can be much better with a liberal party, with a centripetal force that pushes the two great parties towards the center, and that makes nationalisms and populisms not have the baton. Everyone praises me for our government measures, we have not had a case of corruption, and it is because Ciudadanos is a good party for Spain. When I assume the presidency I know that we are in a very bad moment, but in life one cannot be appearing only in the beautiful moments. You have to roll up your sleeves and row when things are not going well. That is what I decided when I assumed it, when everyone told me that there was nothing to do. There you have to take steps forward and move forward.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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