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Ciudadanos has closed more than half of its provincial headquarters to cut costs due to its collapse

Ciudadanos added to its defeat at the polls after the November 2019 general elections, in which only 10 of the 57 deputies it had achieved a few months earlier, in April, reached in Congress. The collapse forced the departure of Albert Rivera and his replacement by Inés Arimadas, who is now engaged in a fratricidal war with his parliamentary representative, Edmundo Bal, for control of the party, which will be decided between the two candidates at an extraordinary general assembly. Set in the middle of the month.

But the electoral fallout, in addition to being a serious economic setback for the party, saw some of the polls in Moncloa take place at the best of times. In the past four years, Ciudadanos has stopped receiving significant income from institutional subsidies, forcing it to tighten its belt, lay off staff and close more than half of its provincial headquarters, which have been open since 2015. The party started working. A state trip that managed to expand in record time throughout Spain.

Things have gotten worse in the last two years. Ciudadanos lost representation in the two autonomies he had previously ruled: Madrid and Andalusia. And in two others – Catalonia and Castilla y León – their presence has become almost a show. All this had an impact on the party’s economic situation. At the moment, as the formation’s sources confirmed, they had no choice but to close at least 28 provincial headquarters, and it is possible to close more.

The budget allocated to the maintenance of these buildings went from the 1.5 million they invested in 2021 to slightly less than one million (931,825 euros) in 2022, or 40.96% less. However, the party still keeps open some of its headquarters in the main provincial capitals, including Madrid, an impressive building of 2,500 square meters and six floors located on Calle Alcalá, next to the Plaza de Toros de las Ventas, which rents for 35,000 euros. per month. For now, management sources say they can withstand the strain and will be able to keep it until the end of the legislature because they have paid rent to its owner, Caser Insurer, thanks to the waste they have accumulated. In the years of fat cows. They also claim that they have no debt with the banks.

The setback in Catalonia’s regional elections in February 2021 was the first major defeat the party has suffered under Arrimada’s mandate. Only six of the 36 MPs moved there, and from the first parliamentary force, they almost remained in the tail van of the parliament. This prompted them to move their Barcelona headquarters from historic Balmes street to Ronda de Sant Pau, in the city’s somewhat cheaper Eixample district. The headquarters of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Tarragona and Lleida have been closed, and new ones are kept only in Barcelona and Girona, which are also at risk.

These last two years were particularly painful, the hardest. After Catalonia, disaster struck in Madrid, where they disappeared from the regional assembly, which significantly reduced their income and also forced them to close several buildings in important municipalities of the region, such as Alcalá de Henares and San Sebastian de los Reyes.

The next failure was in Castilla and León, where they have only one lawyer, Francisco Igea. This also led to the closure of the Salamanca headquarters. Only those of Valladolid and Leon remain open. In Zamora, Burgos, Palencia – where they govern in coalition with the PP – Segovia and Soria did not have their respective headquarters.

The last disaster was in Andalusia. They also disappeared from the parliament, as happened to them in Madrid. Arimadas, unfortunately, also saw how the former leader of the community’s party, Juan Marin, had sworn and sworn to remain loyal to Ciudadanos, as had some of its members. Advisors to the government of Juan Manuel Moreno. The organic disaster there was so severe that of the eight provincial headquarters the party had, only two remained open: Seville and Cadiz. The rest were closed, as in Jerez de la Frontera, one of the most emblematic because it is the land of Arrimada and where Marin lived, who is from Sanlucar de Barrameda, one of the municipalities where Ciudadanos closed the government. Coalition with PSOE. However, the deal collapsed after three parties out of five councilors quit their membership, but not their minutes.

Castilla La Mancha is only open in Albacete, where the mayor’s office is maintained. Headquarters in Toledo, Ciudad Real, Cuenca and Guadalajara were closed. Only Mérida (Badajos) remains in Extremadura, although it has seven regional deputies. But the party now rules the provincial city council thanks to an alternative pact it struck in 2019 with the PP. Among the offices still open are Santander, Oviedo, Gijón, La Rioja, Murcia -despite the failure of the motion of no confidence- and Pamplona. He recently closed the emblematic headquarters in Valencia, which, along with those in Castellón and Alicante – where the party now meets in a fast food establishment – could not withstand the party’s crisis.

One that has been stalled for the moment is that of Zaragoza, where Ciudadanos governs the city council in coalition with the PP. On the other hand, the headquarters of two other Aragonese provinces: Huesca and Teruel are closed. There, at the regional level, the Arimadas have 12 seats, but the group encounters resistance and breaks up.

Nor is the situation in the rest of Spain. In the Basque country, despite the alliance that was closed with the PP to exit with a joint list, the party’s position is absolute weakness after one of its two MPs defected to the ranks of the conservative formation. Although there are no elections in sight at the moment, they have decided to close their headquarters in San Sebastian and Vitoria, leaving only Bilbao open.

In Galicia, where it is not even time to go to the elections in May, there is no longer a provincial headquarters, because the party lacks parliamentary representation and cannot raise itself. The outlook on the islands is not good either: in the Canary Islands, where they have not been able to overcome the internal crisis, the only important headquarters has been opened in Tenerife. and, in the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca.

The party downplays the closures, arguing that branches now “demand that there be more action with them on the street” and that the attitudes of municipal or autonomous groups are used where necessary. In addition, they note that many meetings are held online, which facilitates meetings between party members and avoids travel.

Another aspect of the decline experienced by the party is the drop in the census of its branches, which have also helped fatten the formation’s accounts with monthly dues (€10). Ciudadanos boasted that it reached 34,000 members during its formative peak years. Then, in 2019, they reduced the number to about 26,000 militants. And now they don’t even reach 10,000. In 2022, the party stopped paying membership fees of just over one million euros. That year, the accounts saw a noticeable drop compared to 2021. In that year’s budget, as a whole, Ciudadanos took a loss of almost three million euros and a 27% lower income compared to the previous year.

Source: El Diario





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