THE FORMER PRESIDENT of centre-right political party Citizens (Ciudadanos) became the latest casualty of the local and regional elections that were held across Spain on Sunday. Ines Arrimadas gave a tearful farewell to politics on Thursday, after her party suffered the latest in a long line of losses at the polls.
“Politics should only be a stage in people’s lives, and all stages start and finish,” she said at a press conference in the Congress of Deputies, Spain’s lower house of parliament.
Sources close to Arrimadas, 41, told the Spanish press that she would be taking some time off, and may return to her former job as a consultant in Barcelona. She has been a full-time politician since 2012, when she took leave from her work position.
The big winners at Sunday’s elections were the conservative Popular Party (PP) and right-wing Vox, while the Socialist Party lost ground along with the smaller parties that emerged in the 2010s, such as leftist Unidas Podemos and Citizens.
In fact, the party only garnered 1.35% of the vote in Spain’s municipalities on Sunday, and failed to win a single seat in any of the 12 regions up for grabs.
Arrimadas took over the leadership of Citizens in 2019, when then-president Albert Rivera resigned – also due to a serious electoral defeat, when the party went from 57 deputies in Congress to just 10 at general elections.
She held the role until January of this year, when she lost the leadership at party primaries to politician Patricia Guasp. During her time at the helm, however, she was unable to turn the party’s fortunes around.
The future of Citizens is far from clear, after the current leadership took the decision earlier this week not to run in the snap general elections that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez called on Monday for July 23.
For now the party will not be dissolved, but intends to take part in future elections.
“We are starting a process of an organic and intellectual reset,” said general secretary Adrian Vazquez on Tuesday, in comments reported by Spanish daily El Pais.
The party was originally founded in Barcelona in 2006 as a centrist, liberal group that opposed ‘Catalan nationalism’.
After standing in a series of local, regional and European elections, in 2015 it became the fourth-biggest political force in Spain with 40 of the 350 seats in the Congress of Deputies.
The party’s best result was in the general elections in April of 2019, when it was the third-biggest party in Congress after the Socialists and the PP.
However, the beginning of the tough times for the party came that same year, after then-leader Albert Rivera refused to do a deal to install Pedro Sanchez in power and repeat elections were called. At that vote, the party fell to fifth place in the polls, prompting Rivera to quit.
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