Ciudadanos: The end of a political era

by Lorraine Williamson
Inés Arrimadas

In the latest political shake-up in Spain, the Ciudadanos party has effectively signed its own death certificate. After a tense hours-long meeting, the leadership decided not to run in the forthcoming general elections set for July 23rd.  

Instead, they’ve opted to concentrate their vote on the Partido Popular (PP) in an attempt to consolidate the centre-right vote. Inés Arrimadas, former party chairman and spokesperson, confirmed the decision, marking a pause for Ciudadanos’ political journey. This is a significant development in Spanish politics, as it means that for the first time since 2015, Spaniards won’t be able to cast their votes for Ciudadanos. 

Devastating defeat 

The reasons for this drastic shift are painfully clear: Ciudadanos faced a devastating defeat in the recent autonomous and municipal elections, and the party is still reeling from the surprise call for general elections in July as announced by President Pedro Sánchez. The party lost all its representation in regional parliaments and saw an 86% decline in its municipal representation. Consequently, the period until July 23 is simply too short for Ciudadanos to regroup and mount a robust candidacy. 

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Beacon of hope 

But, despite the grim outlook, Francisco Igea, a member of the provincial deputies of Ciudadanos in Castilla y León, has proposed creating a platform in the wake of the party’s defeat. Moreover, this may well be a beacon of hope for those still believing in the Ciudadanos project, but the question remains: Is it too late for a revival? 

Former alternative to the traditional two-party system 

Ciudadanos, originally established as a counterweight to rising separatism in Catalonia, positioned itself as a progressive-liberal, pro-European, and centrist party. Known for its strong stance against corruption, it stood firmly for a united Spain. Under the stewardship of Albert Rivera from 2006 to 2019, Ciudadanos grew into a significant political force, offering an alternative to the traditional two-party system. But internal divisions and declining support have taken their toll. Therefore, the party’s withdrawal from the upcoming elections is a hard-hitting testament to its current predicament, marking the end of a significant chapter in Spain’s political landscape.  

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