In normal times, being elected as the first female leader of a Spanish political party, on International Women’s Day no less, would be seen as a good omen.
Unfortunately for Inés Arrimadas, she took over the reins of the center-right Citizens just as the coronavirus pandemic spread to Spain. With the country under lockdown, the leadership change in a party that has been reduced to a mere ten seats in Congress drew little attention.
Spain’s center-right parties are having second thoughts about cozying up to the far right.
Before the general election in April, the liberal Citizens and the conservative People’s Party ruled out a deal with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’ Socialists. That meant the only alternative to his pact with the far-left Podemos was a right-wing coalition with the support of the nativist Vox. Voters preferred the former.
They once again gave the Socialists a plurality in European and local elections last month.
The Citizens now say they are willing to consider coalitions with the Socialists at the regional level under “exceptional” circumstances. They also reject more deals with Vox such as the one they struck in Andalusia last year.
Spain’s liberal Citizens party has proposed eliminating the Catalan language requirement for civil servants in the region.
Catalan would be plus, but no longer a prerequisite for most jobs in the public sector.
The idea is unlikely to go anywhere. Although the Citizens made their proposal in the Spanish Congress, which could attempt to overrule the separatist majority in the Catalan parliament, national parties would be foolish to aggravate relations with the province.
The liberal Citizens party has risen to the top of the polls in Spain, receiving 26-27 percent support in two recent surveys against 23-25 percent for Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party.