Spanish party Ciudadanos is just weeks on from its greatest ever results in elections to the Spanish Congress and the European Parliament. Today, however, it's lost three key figures as part of an ongoing internal crisis, just days after splitting with former French prime minister Manuel Valls on Barcelona city council.
The first notable departure this morning was Toni Roldán, the party's economic spokesperson and a member of its executive committee. As first reported by El País, he has resigned from both his party roles and his seat in the Congress following the party's "turn to the right", especially in its agreements with far-right party Vox in places like Andalusia. Roldán was second behind Inés Arrimadas on the party's list of candidates for Barcelona province in April's general election.
In a press statement this morning in the Congress, Roldán said he was quitting because "one cannot be what one isn't for too long. I don't agree with the party's strategy". He didn't take any questions from the media. "Ciudadanos has changed", he said: "this isn't the contract I signed".
Created in 2006 specifically to oppose Catalan nationalism and later the independence movement, the party originally defined itself as being liberal, but many commentators see it as having made a move rightwards in recent years.
The possibility that Roldán could be the first to tear up his membership card had already come up at the end of last week as he raised criticism internally about its talks with Vox and the shift in its politics. This was made worse by the Elysée Palace coming out to deny claims by Ciudadanos' leader Albert Rivera that French president Emmanuel Macron had congratulated him on his post-election pacts. That followed reports the president might be looking to kick Ciudadanos out of the new Renew Europe group in the European Parliament, successor to last legislature's liberal ALDE group.
Indeed it was an MEP, Javier Nart, a vice-president of the ALDE group, who was second to resign from the party's national executive today. He took his decision after the majority of that committee voted in favour (24 to 4 with 3 abstentions) of continuing with its strategy of not negotiating with PSOE's Pedro Sánchez to reinvest him as prime minister. It was Nart, alongside Luis Garicano, the head of the party's list of candidates for the European election, who requested the vote on the veto to investing Sánchez.
Third to go today was Juan Vázquez. He had been the party's candidate for president of Asturias in last month's election; now he's resigned his seat in the Andalusian Parliament, again in disagreement over Ciudadanos' attitude towards Vox. He also made his announcement after the vote by the national executive to not negotiate with PSOE.