Spain’s regional and municipal elections on Sunday have confirmed the disappearance of the centre-liberal party Ciudadanos (Renew Europe) from the political landscape, with record-low results followed by the party’s decision not to participate in the snap national elections scheduled for 23 July.
Ciudadanos’ crushing results in the regional and municipal elections ranging from 1% to 2% of total votes, saw the party stripped of virtually all regional and municipal representation, a major loss from 2019 when Ciudadanos became Spain’s third political force with around 15% of votes.
In the months previous to the regional and municipal elections, record-low polls and disbandments among Ciudadanos already hinted at the decay of Spain’s centre-liberal camp.
The party has struggled to find a political space since its creation, shifting from centre to far-right and back to centre-right in its 17 years of existence. Ultimately, Ciudadanos’ voters have been absorbed by right-wing Partido Popular (EPP).
After the snap national elections announced by Sanchez on Monday, Ciudadanos’ National Committee confirmed their decision not to present their candidacy on Tuesday.
Seeking to reassemble the party and to prepare “for the new political scenario that seems to be opening up in Spain”, Ciudadanos’ Secretary General Adrián Vázquez affirmed that “it is the smartest way to defend the liberal ideas and space”.
“We do not give up, we know that today there is no electoral space but there is political space for the ideas of the liberal centre. That is why from today we are starting to work on a reinforced project to be more attractive electorally and we are initiating an organic and intellectual rearmament process”, he added.
If Ciudadanos does not manage to reassemble before June next year it risks losing its 8-MEP-delegation in the European Parliament, within the Renew Europe group.
From their side, Renew Europe “respects” the party’s decision, and “believe they can make it” before the EU elections.
“The Spanish citizens decided this weekend to vote for the bipartidism and the extremes in a very polarised context. Ciudadanos will continue offering the best, centred and liberal project in Spain and will need some time to rebuild it to be prepared for the coming months”, a Renew Europe spokesperson told EURACTIV.
(Max Griera | EURACTIV.com – Additional reporting by Tobias Gerhard Schminke)
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