Spain: Ciudadanos head quits after disastrous results


After leading his party to a historic decline in popularity in Spain’s national election on Sunday, one party leader decided to call it quits.

In national elections this April, the Ciudadanos (Citizens) party captured 57 seats, but in Sunday’s snap vote, it won just 10.

“I’ve always tried to be brave and coherent, so that’s why the first decision I’ve made has been to resign as leader… I believe that it’s my responsibility,” said Albert Rivera in a speech on Monday.

He also announced that he will leave politics and public life in general.

The party lost a large number of its seats to the far-right party Vox, which gained 28 seats on Sunday. Vox has taken over Cuidadanos’ position as the third-largest political force in the country.

“We can’t allow the country to return to division or sectarianism,” said Rivera, wishing the new leaders of his party good luck.

Rivera, a lawyer who worked in a financial company, became the leader of Ciudadanos at the party’s first conference in July 2006. It was founded in Barcelona as a liberal party opposed to Catalan nationalism.

The party moved from regional politics to the national level in European elections in 2014.

Then, in 2015, Rivera and his party broke onto the national scene in a big way. That year, the party won 40 seats and from there, it remained one of the country’s most important political forces – until yesterday.

Experts suggest that Ciudadanos’ failure came in part from the party’s shift to the right to compete with Vox.

Others also blame how on a national level, Rivera refused to pact with either the Socialist Party or the Popular Party to form a government and end the political stagnation that has gripped Spain since 2015.

“I told them about the danger of Vox. You cannot pact with them without using your soul. The far-right will contaminate everything,” tweeted Manuel Valls, the former French prime minister, after Sunday’s results became clear.

Valls last year ran for mayor of Barcelona with Ciudadanos. In his message, he referred to Ciudadanos’ pacts with Vox in dozens of regions and cities across Spain.

“When a team has successes, you have to give the credit to the whole team. But when there is a failure, it’s the leader who must take responsibility,” said Rivera in his resignation speech. 
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