Un observador inglés (21) – What’s the point of Ciudadanos?

What’s the point of Ciudadanos? Is it just to complain, sulk and criticise, or do they actually have a political plan that is any different to, say, Spain’s far-right Vox ‘party’? This time last week the leader of C’s, Albert Rivera, the man who only sees Spaniards, tweeted something about agreeing with a tennis player (okay, it was Rafa Nadal), who’d said there should be elections so that the Spanish people ‘can go and vote to elect our government’. It was obvious that Albert hadn’t really recovered from the fact that Pedro Sánchez had just been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Spain, leading a PSOE government – and I still don’t think Albert has recovered, even 9 days later. I don’t think he (or Inés Arrimadas, the leader of C’s in Catalonia) has got over the fact that Quim Torra has finally been able to form a new government in Catalonia, either. The C’s described his swearing in ceremony as a ‘separatist event’ and refused to attend. Why? Mainly because they want yellow ribbons and ‘free political prisoners’ banners removed from public spaces. But the solution is not to remove the banners, Inés. The solution is to remove the political prisoners from jail.

From what I’ve seen, Albert and Inés have spent the entire week acting like spoilt, sulking kids, sitting in the corner at another kid’s party that they weren’t even invited to in the first place (and failed to bring gifts to), and then refusing to smile, refusing to take part in any of the fun and games, refusing to dance, and then only saying something if there’s an opportunity to be really spiteful to others. They have a permanent ‘it’s not fair’ look on their faces. Well, get over it, for fucksake! You’re not the Prime Minister of Spain, Albert! You’re not the President of Catalonia, Inés! It didn’t happen! And the way things are going, I don’t think it ever will.

Whilst Vox has been stating pretty clearly that Pedro Sánchez’s new government is supported by ‘enemies of Spain’, or ‘separatists, communists and ETA politicians’, the comments from C’s are much the same. Arrimadas said at a public event on Tuesday that, ‘the pro-independence parties are salivating in face of a weak government by Sánchez, which is handcuffed by them’ – and that Sánchez is ‘already complying with Catalan separatist demands’. Albert just seems to go on and on and on about the ‘agony of bipartisan politics’, and that there should be elections, and that article 155 should have been prolonged in Catalonia, and that there should be elections, and that the Catalans shouldn’t be able to handle their own finances again yet, and that there should be elections, and that Pedro Sánchez has a ‘weak government’ and a ‘Frankenstein government’ that is ‘mortgaged to the nationalists’, and that there should be elections (like Rafa Nadal says). Pedro Sánchez actually has until 2020 to call elections, but Albert wants them now, right now, yesterday. Has he really not got anything better to offer Spain or to bring to Spanish politics? So, anyway, whilst the C’s have done nothing but complain about separatists, ‘free political prisoners’ banners, yellow ribbons, or that the new Catalan government might have offices abroad once again, this also happened this week:

José Maria Aznar reappeared almost on the same day that Rajoy said goodbye, offering to contribute to the ‘reconstruction of a centre right’ party in Spain. Nobody took him up on the offer. On stepping down as leader of the PP, Mariano Rajoy claimed that 2.7m jobs were created whilst he was in government. Pedro Sánchez then created 4 more, at least in the cabinet itself – naming 17 ministers (Rajoy’s cabinet was only 13, but that seemed more than enough).

The 17 new ministers in the PSOE ‘strongly pro-European’ government include 11 women and an astronaut. The former president of the European Parliament, Josep Borrell, 71, actually a Catalan and who was a minister during the third and fourth governments of Felipe González, is the new Foreign Minister. Last December, he caused controversy when arguing that before Catalonia can ‘heal its wounds’, it needs to be ‘disinfected’. The new Culture and Sports Minister is Maxim Huerta. He tweeted something in 2010 about hating sport, and several other disturbing tweets such as asking if everyone is black in France. Fernando Grande-Marlaska, a former judge and LGBT activist, is the new Interior minister.

What else happened? Carles Puigdemont’s travel companions when he was arrested in Germany on 25th March, were freed without preventive measures. Spain’s National Court had summoned them for an alleged crime of ‘aiding and abetting’. A PP deputy of Extremadura, awarded by the Franco Foundation, compared Pedro Sánchez’s arrival to the government to the pre-civil war period. The Franco Foundation also urged a ‘mobilisation’ against the new government that ‘will impose the LGTB law’ and ‘will break the unity of Spain’. Quim Torra has presented a demand against the former deputy prime minister of Spain, Alfonso Guerra, for calling him a ‘nazi’. He also sent him two books about Catalans in nazi concentration camps. Images emerged of Catalan politicans Oriol Junqueras, Raul Romeva and Quim Forn in prison, taken with a secret video camera, published by some newspapers and also on TV. The European Commission reiterated to Spain its expectations over the use of European Arrest Warrants. A Belgian court has now also summoned Spanish Supreme Cout judge Pablo Llarena (for 4th Sept) to respond to allegations that he has ‘misused justice’ when filing EAWs against Carles Puigdemont and others. Carla Ponsatí, the Catalan economics professor at St.Andrews University facing extradition, accused Spain of an ‘illegal vendetta’ against Catalan nationalists. Whilst attending a fringe meeting at the Scottish National Party’s spring conference, she received a standing ovation.

Finally … whilst Inés Arrimadas refuses to meet Catalan President, Quim Torra, until those banners and yellow ribbons are removed, Spain’s new Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, has spoken to Quim Torra by telephone and they have agreed to hold a face-to-face meeting very soon. You see, Albert and Inés? Things are being done. And meanwhile, the C’s poll ratings are seriously down …

6 thoughts on “Un observador inglés (21) – What’s the point of Ciudadanos?

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    David Zethmayr

    June 10, 2018 at 7:45pm

    Superb, as usual, and very welcome, Tim. Depending on you to keep on top of this world-important development. Thank you.

    I try to imagine myself with catalanophone children at University, having sat exams and then being told their submissions are invalid for not being written in castilian. Madrid’s arrogant overweening devaluation of catalan culture is offensive. It continues the violence that has tainted Spain’s history in several manifestations for centuries.

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    Juli Costa-Esteban

    June 10, 2018 at 10:20pm

    Thanks for your refreshing, true to life chronicle, Tim.


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    Carole olfers van der horst

    June 11, 2018 at 12:19pm

    very good Tim, precise and without insults just the contrary of our neighbours and Albert and Ines’ s way of behaving. thank you so much.

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    June 13, 2018 at 12:33am

    Thanks for enabling us to keep up to date with what’s happening in Spain, Tim. A very good chronicle.

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    June 13, 2018 at 7:22am

    Excellent post confirming my feelings ! Al’ Spaniards should read you!! C’s is doing sooo bad politics. Looking at Spain from Switzerland, it is amazing to witness (in 2018!!!) a central Gvt so unable to have a real value proposition for ! And C’s is very much finger pointing, always shaming others while they do not suggest anything positive.
    Spaniards will have to vote and I hope that they will choose in a way that Spain will be able to move on! With C’s it is clear that it will be back to PP and even somewhat worst !!!

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    Josep A. Jareno

    July 12, 2018 at 11:58am

    In 1982 I was working in Lybia, many of my coworkers were british, the were proud of their nation. I asked my self why did not felt the same of my country, Spain….I am Catalan citizen.

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