This weekend, Spaniards head to the polls to elect the Congress of Deputies (lower house) and the Senate (upper house) of the Cortes Generales. The political Spanish arena is more polarised than ever before. With few spaces for centrist parties, one party decided not to run in this general election after suffering heavy losses in the local and regional elections earlier this year: Ciudadanos. Ciudadanos is a case study worth looking at. A party which gained tremendous momentum in 2017 when it became the largest party in Catalonia.
This momentum was followed in April 2019 when the party had their best result, with 16% of the votes for the national elections and 12% in the European elections. Following this, the party’s popularity began to drop. After the first electoral defeat in November 2019, the party’s founding president, Albert Rivera, resigned and handed the reins to Inés Arrimadas.
Under her leadership, the party made minor gains and remained a centrist liberal option in Spain, where the right-wing party Vox and the socialist PSoE were on the rise making Spanish politics more and more polarised. In the last months of 2022, Inés supported the party’s restructuring, which was framed as a re-foundation. A re-foundation effort was led by Member of the European Parliament Adrián Vázquez, who became the Secretary-General and leader of the party after the re-foundation.
A renewed Ciudadanos went to local elections in May 2023 with enormous losses. Due to this result, the party decided not to run in the Snap election of July 2023. In Brussels, we had the chance to meet with Adrián to reflect on the journey of Ciudadanos and what their future might hold.