Spanish MP launches bid to become Ciudadanos leader

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Inés Arrimadas on Monday announced her candidacy to succeed Albert Rivera as leader of the liberal Ciudadanos party | David Ramos/Getty Images

Inés Arrimadas hopes to become the first female head of a major national party.

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Inés Arrimadas wants to break Spain’s political glass ceiling.

The MP on Monday announced her candidacy to succeed Albert Rivera as leader of the liberal Ciudadanos party after he resigned last week following the party’s disastrous general election results.

If successful in her bid, Arrimadas — who currently serves as party spokesperson in Congress — would become the first-ever female leader of a major national Spanish party.

“My goals are humble. I want to elevate this party and hope that the center can again be heard loudly,” Arrimadas told news channel Antena 3 in an interview announcing her candidacy.

She added that she believes she has “majority” support to run in the leadership contest. Due to party rules, a special assembly to choose a new leader isn’t set to convene until mid-March.

Rivera resigned last week after Ciudadanos slumped from the 57 seats it won in April’s general election to just 10 seats in the November 10 ballot, losing 2.5 million votes.

He had led the party since 2006, when it was still a Catalan regional party that sought to counter nationalism and promote the unity of Spain. When Ciudadanos went nationwide in 2014 on a pro-business, anti-corruption platform, it soared in the polls, briefly threatening the dominance of the conservative Popular Party (PP) and the Socialists (PSOE).

Defining itself as a centrist liberal party, Ciudadanos was widely seen to have moved to the right recently at the behest of Rivera, particularly on the issue of Catalan independence.

Arrimadas led the party to a surprise victory in a regional Catalan election in 2017, securing the most seats under a single party, though pro-independence parties together retained a narrow majority.

She said Monday that the recent national election results were “very bad” and that she believed Rivera “has been an example of dignity and responsibility” by resigning.

“Albert set the bar very high,” she said.

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