On Sunday, Spanish party of the right Ciudadanos (Cs) met with the far-right Vox in Madrid and thus lifted the cordon sanitaire which Cs leader Albert Rivera had supposedly been maintaining with regard to its more extremist colleagues for a couple of weeks, after the French president, Emmanuelle Macron, had given him a dressing down over his agreement with the Popular Party (PP) and Vox in Andalusia. A fortnight later, it seems that Rivera has returned to his starting point and the only one surprised about this is Manuel Valls, the former French prime minister who, being a free agent (or at least presenting himself as one) is willing to vote in Ada Colau to the mayoralty of Barcelona. Really, the political contortions couldn't be more complex for Cudadanos in this negotiation of municipal power: at one table they face the Francoists of Vox, while at the other they sit opposite Colau's BComú (Commons).
And in the middle, perhaps, is an electoral programme that's been put through the shredder, since there is little or none of it that they can defend. For those of us who know Ciudadanos well, since it came into being as a political party in Catalonia, their politics have always been based on what they are against. Against the Catalan language, against Catalan culture, against yellow ribbons, against the independence movement, against Catalan public media TV3 and Catalunya Ràdio, against presenting their candidate in an investiture vote for Catalan president after being the largest party at the elections of 21st December 2017, against a hypothetical pardon for the political prisoners, and so on.
This final week of negotiations for municipal and autonomous governments promises to be entertaining right across the board as some shameless actions by different parties will come out into the open. In Barcelona, a lot of focus has been placed on Colau's attitude in accepting votes from Valls and, on the other hand, little attention has been paid to Ciudadanos themselves who have made a decision which is both surreal and strange. Parties can split for many reasons and coherence is sometimes one of them. Sometimes, perhaps, things are much simpler: in Spain, the biggest May 26th loser among the major parties, in strategic terms, was Ciudadanos. They hoped to overtake the PP in the municipal votes, in the European election and in Madrid, and they failed in all three attempts.
Now, surely, Rivera will have to start paying the bills he has accrued. Can he move to the centre left and leave stranded all of those who supported him because they wanted the right to govern in as many places as possible? Can he ally himself in Catalonia with those who set him on his way in the Upper Diagonal business set, and who now demand an manoeuvre which is incongruent in ideological terms but serves his interests: that is, for Cs to vote for Colau so that Maragall is supplanted as Barcelona mayor, despite the latter's victory on 26th May? Sometimes, with poor results, the only thing you can try and perform is a feat of magic.