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Yet another crisis in Ciudadanos (Cs). If the once mighty Spanish party of the right did not have enough departures already with the dozens of members who have jumped ship in the wake of changes in the party's strategy, it has now begun a purge to silence some critical voices.

It all exploded on Wednesday, when the party announced the expulsion of its spokespeople on the city councils of the Catalan cities of Lleida and Girona and in the Andalusian Parliament. In addition, a former Catalan MP for the party, Sonia Sierra, also announced her resignation from the party due to its drift, and she mentioned the expulsions whose details have emerged today. It was not even a week ago that Ciudadanos celebrated a convention from which, according to leader Inés Arrimadas, the party would emerge strengthened and unified.

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Inés Arrimadas, at last week's convention / Photo: Efe

Ángeles Ribes: critical voice in Lleida

In Lleida, the party's Committee of Guarantees has opened a motion to expel its current spokesperson on the city council, Ángeles Ribes. The party says it has lost confidence in her as a result of her performance in the spokesperson position.

However, Ribes herself has told that the motion is due to the critical positioning she has taken within the party. "The day after the defeat in Feburary's Catalan elections, I wrote an article calling on leadership to be self-critical and assume its responsibilities (and they didn't like it, of course)," she explains. In fact, Ribes is part of Renovadores, a critical current that wants to renew the party from top to bottom.

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Ángeles Ribes / Photo: ACN

For this reason, asserts Ribes, the members of the municipal group received an email asking them to remove her as spokesperson and replace her with María Burrel, "a member of the party organization and close to the directors." Ribes herself reacted by calling an extraordinary and urgent meeting of the group to put the question to a vote, and she was ratified as spokesperson.

“The next day I gave a press conference explaining what had happened, in which I expressed my suspicions that an ideological purge had begun in the party, in which I was being used to teach a lesson to other members of Renovadores and dissenters,” she explains. "And as a result of all this, yesterday I was informed of the provisional suspension of my membership and the start of a possible expulsion process. News that all the media already know because the party itself decided to send it to you and make it public,” she adds.

Ribes also explained to this newspaper that she is already preparing an appeal against her expulsion case, to be presented to the party's Committee of Guarantees, and revealed that she does not rule out going to court "so that they don't jeopardise my career or my honour."

Another expulsion, in Girona

Similarly, Ciudadanos have opened a second expulsion case against the party's spokesperson on the Girona city council, Daniel Pamplona, ​​for "the continuous violation of internal regulations", the party said in a statement on Friday.

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Daniel Pamplona / Photo: ACN

The party asserts that Pamplona had been reprimanded on numerous occasions by different Cs secretaries for not following the party statutes, "or respecting the consensus in internal decision-making", thus failing to show the "commitments and duties" expected of him.

The leader of the Renovadores current, Antonio Espinosa, has explained to that these expulsions are due to "positions that are openly differentiated between the Catalonia party direction and the respective municipal groups". “They are not applauding the direction and acting as a transmission belt,” he clarifies. However, unlike Ribes, Pamplona is not part of the critical current.


The other purge victim is Fran Carrillo, deputy spokesperson for Cs in the Andalusian Parliament. Espinosa says his dismissal is explained by the fact that Juan Marín, the party's leader in Andalusia, "wants to surround himself with the people closest to him and remove those who were closer to Fran Hervías."

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Juan Marín (left) and Fran Carrillo (right) / Photo: Europa Press

The context to this is that Hervías resigned from his post as a Cs senator in March and asked to leave the party, in order to join the Popular Party. Hervías was very critical of the Ciudadanos approach to the PSOE-Unidas Podemos government.

Sierra, another departure

In parallel with all this, former Catalan MP for Ciudadanos, Sonia Sierra, has announced that she also has cancelled her party membership. In two tweets, she explained that "for days I have been receiving attacks from both public office holders and those in organizational positions in the said party as well as accounts linked to it."

The latest was from a local councillor and Cs official who slandered another Ciudadanos councillor who had offered support to me in the face of a tweet insinuating that I was ‘prostituting myself’. I hope the attacks stop now. And to those who are worried about my working life, tell them that I make a very good living,” she explained with a final point of irony.

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Although she was not explicit, Sierra also criticized the expulsion of critics such as Ribes and Pamplona. However, despite being consulted by this newspaper, she did not want to specify her reasons for leaving, beyond the quarrels with former colleagues following the recruitment of Martí Pachamé, as an adviser to the mayor of Premià de Mar, Rafael Navarro (PDeCAT).

Carrizosa's explanations

Asked about these expulsions, the leader of Cs in Catalonia, Carlos Carrizosa, summed them up as a way to "boost" municipal candidacies in the run-up to the 2023 elections.

As for the expulsion of Ángeles Ribes, a visible face on the Lleida city council, Carrizosa acknowledged that "a good part of the members" had been demanding it "for many years". The Cs organ for Institutional Action had thus requested a change so that councillor Maria Burrel would become the spokesperson after repeated criticism of Ribes for her "lack of commitment to the project". "People who are perhaps more 'idle' in Lleida have not understood the changes," Carrizosa replied.


Main image: Ciudadanos' heart-shaped symbol on a flag at an election rally / Photo: Sergi Alcazar