15th January 2016. Catalan radio presenter Jordi Basté finishes the first interview with Inés Arrimadas as the head of the opposition in Catalonia. But the leader of centre-right, anti-independence Ciutadans asks to speak. "I really wanted to come to Rac1, because they told me that during Versió on 7th January they did an impression of me which consisted of me not being able to answer anything because Albert [Rivera, her party's national leader] hadn't told me what I had to say. And that's sexism". Basté replies that it's political satire and not sexism. Ernest Folch, Glòria Serra, Jordi Bosch and Albert Gimena join in. The debate lasts 17 minutes. The moment reveals four things. Arrimadas' debate ability (confusing her opponent with constant interruptions and repeating her arguments to exhaustion). Her consistency. Her desire to differentiate herself from Albert Rivera. And the quantity of criticism she receives, some out of place, like the one from Núria de Gispert, who some days ago asked her on Twitter why she didn't return to Cádiz in the south of Spain where she grew up.
Yes. Inés Arrimadas (Jerez de la Frontera, 1981) is Andalusian by birth, Salamancan by heritage (her four grandparents are from Salmoral) and Catalan by adoption. But, despite being politically situated in one of the two blocs, as irreconcilable as her identity split three-ways across the Iberian peninsula, her biography can both be used against her by the enemies of either side, and it can serve her as a letter of safe-passage with the lovers of the multicultural Catalonia. As if there were a monocultural one. Who knows.
Inés is the youngest of the five children of Rufino Arrimadas and Inés García. Rufino, born in 1937 in Salamanca, studied Law and headed to Barcelona as a policeman during the 60s, but the family has never revealed any details of this period. In 1970 he went to Jerez, officially because his wife's parents had a business in El Puerto de Santa María and they wanted to be nearby. There he became a lawyer, with a brief foray into politics as a town councillor for UCD, the party of prime minister Adolfo Suárez during Spain's transition to democracy, from 1979 to 1983. His father's cousin, Moisés Arrimadas, was a delegate of the ministry of housing to Cádiz in the 60s and a civil governor and chief of the Francoist Movimiento Nacional (National Movement) in Cuenca and Albacete. But, ah, Arrimadas is married to an independence supporter, former Catalan Parliament deputy for Convergència Xavier Cima, who she fell in love with a Barça's Camp Nou stadium. And in the Parliament she's made friends with deputies of her generation from other parties and not just from PP. Her support for Barça (in school she even dressed up as Ronaldo), her admiration for the Catalan Guardiola, then a player, her family's Barcelona past and her job with a Catalan company brought Arrimadas to Barcelona. After studying at a religious school, Nuestra Señora del Pilar, graduating in Law and Business Administration from Pablo de Olavide University in Seville and studying in Nice, France, through the Erasmus program, Arrimadas started working for the consultancy firm Daleph. She often came to Barcelona for meetings, and moved here in 2008. She speaks English, French, Spanish and Catalan. And she was the one who asked her company to pay for Catalan classes, because she wasn't learning enough at the subsidised courses offered by the Consorci per la Normalització Lingüística and because everyone spoke to her in Spanish.
This isn't a biography that matches up with her party's anti-Catalanism nor their political use of the language. In fact, it wasn't until October 2010 that she accompanied a friend to a Ciutadans event in Barcelona's Romea theatre. As such, she's not part of its anti-nationalist founding core. She feels more comfortable attacking corruption. But she's been the first to get a return from the independence process. She's been tougher than prime minister Rajoy's PP party and will earn votes from PSC, PP and Podem. Ciutadans would never have been able to hope of winning if it hadn't been for the independence process awaking Spanish nationalism, as the PP has made independence support grow.