Albert rivera has returned this week to the public scene but this time to talk about his book, A free citizen (Espasa, 2020), in which he reviews his political career, especially his last years at the helm of Ciudadanos. Throughout 312 pages, the former president of the party that calls himself “liberal” narrates the two investiture pacts that he closed in 2016: one frustrated, with Pedro Sánchez, and another with Mariano Rajoy, who came to offer him to be his vice president, An offer that he rejected “for a matter of honesty” and because “the corruption that existed in the ranks of the PP at that time” prevented it, “according to what he reveals.
In a book, Rivera also speaks of the motion of censure of June 2018 against Rajoy, which gave the presidency to Pedro Sánchez; profusely recalls his success in the general elections of 28A 2019, and gives his particular version of why, despite adding an absolute majority with the PSOE, the political situation could not be unblocked by avoiding going to new elections on 10N which were his political grave , given that Ciudadanos went from 57 to only 10 seats.
The book begins precisely with that fateful election night in which he lost 47 deputies and reveals how he forged his resignation after the debacle – which he already suspected although he never thought it would be so forceful -, confessing that he “cried” before and after announcing the The next day he said goodbye to the press, surrounded by his fellow Executive and party workers, all shocked by the “unmitigated” defeat that forced him to retire from his brief but intense political life. Rivera says that he felt “exhausted” for having had to endure “an exhausting campaign of political and media pressure on his back in recent months.” And his retirement ensures that he has returned “happiness.”
According to him, the fault that a pact between the PSOE and Ciudadanos could not be consummated after April 28, when Ciudadanos won 57 seats and the PSOE 123, was exclusively held by Sánchez, who “had drawn up a strategy since the beginning of summer to go to a second election. ” “The Socialists played their cards well. They put Podemos against the wall and made us seem guilty of the electoral repetition before public opinion,” he says. Regarding those crucial moments in his political life, he admits that he made “two mistakes”: “Not having previously made that strategy clear to public opinion, that the acting president did not want any agreement with us,” and, later, “open the hand publicly to negotiate the reforms of State, not only with the PP, but also with the PSOE in exchange for unblocking the situation after 10N “.
The motion of censure to Rajoy
But what really seems to haunt him is the motion of censure that Pedro Sánchez filed against Mariano Rajoy after the ruling in the Gürtel case, an episode that he returns to several times in the book, and which he describes as “one of the milestones in the recent history of our country”. Rivera regrets that Sánchez did not notify him of his intentions and assures that he is convinced that the socialist leader “did not really want” his support, “not even our abstention.”
The former president of Ciudadanos does not admit mistakes in strategy and blames Rajoy for “not calling elections and enduring the downpour without moving.” According to him, that allowed the motion to succeed. “Seen from a distance, I think that deep down Rajoy and the PP leadership were more concerned with the survival of their party than with the fact that Sánchez came to power.” “The polls – he adds – said that Ciudadanos surpassed the PP in voting intention, so early elections scared them,” so “they preferred to lose the Government and oppose the PSOE,” he says.
The reason why Ciudadanos voted against the motion of censure was “especially for the partners who accompanied the PSOE”, whom it labels as “populists, separatists and nationalists.” “We would only have voted in favor if Sánchez had promised to call early elections immediately,” he says in the book, but “the socialists responded that they were not willing to do so and that they wanted to remain in government without setting an electoral date.” This statement is not exact because, later, Rivera himself accused Sánchez of “lying to the Spaniards” and of coming to power “through the back door”, promising in his inauguration speech a forthcoming election that he did not set a date for. concrete.
That motion and that bitter debate put a “full stop” to Rivera’s already deteriorating relationship with the leader of the PSOE, and this is recognized in the ex-leader of Ciudadanos. A relationship that was “from more to less”, unlike that of Rajoy who, according to what he says, was “from less to more.”
The relationship with Iglesias, Casado and Abascal
Throughout the narrative he also refers to his relationships with Pablo Iglesias, “marked by contrasts”, emphasizing that both are “ideologically situated at the antipodes”: “Our disagreement was the result of mutual misgivings and the occasional entry. dirty, “says Rivera, without hiding that he was very upset that he called him a” fascist “from the rostrum of Congress. De Pablo Casado regrets that his party and Ciudadanos did not add enough seats to form a government in April 2019 because he is sure that he would have been a “reasonable” Executive. About Santiago Abascal, he says that “it is difficult for him to recognize the Abascal that I met years ago in the Basque Country.”
He also makes a review of the main leaders of Catalonia, against whom he attacks and is very hard. From Artur Mas or Carles Puigdemont, on whom he considers that he has shown “a cowardice difficult to overcome”, to the current president of the Generalitat, Quim Torra, whom he does not hesitate to describe as an “ultra-conservative man” or as a “fond of speeches. xenophobes “. He treated Pujol little but talks about him and his family profusely in the book. Rivera says that in the face of the “docility” shown by the spokesmen of the groups when the former president appeared in Parliament to give explanations about his tax fraud and illicit enrichment, he was the only spokesman who put him on the ropes. Faced with his ‘arrogance’, when his turn comes he remembers that he snapped at him: “I do not accept that he is scolding me because I do not accept that neither my father is scolding me.”
The successive events in Catalonia and the rise of the independence movement center part of his story. Since Ciudadanos landed in the Parliament, in 2006, with three deputies – “within a few weeks I became the enfant terrible of nationalism, he affirms – until he abandoned it to make the leap to Madrid. And that’s when he first cited his successor at the head of the party, Inés Arrimadas -on page 83-, to explain that the elections “were imminent” and before his departure, “it was necessary to find a successor who was at hand. the height of the circumstances. ” “I knew that [Inés] it had wood, and my nose told me that, although many had doubts about it at that time, it was the best option. “” Despite the doubts and risks that that decision entailed, we were right, “he concludes, because Ciudadanos happened in 2015 from 9 to 25 seats in Catalonia.
On Arrimadas he talks again on page 163 to give him a “special mention”. “She is an intelligent woman, with enormous capacity for work and a high level of self-demand.” “I predict a great future for Citizens,” he adds, a phrase he wrote before learning about the turn in strategy that the current party leader was going to undertake after the outbreak of the pandemic.
Although the great triumph of Ciudadanos en Catalunya in the December 2017 elections, called by Rajoy after applying article 155 of the Constitution, was a success for Arrimadas, Rivera limits himself to pointing out in his book: “The party that won The elections of that December 21, 2017 were Citizens, demonstrating to the whole world that the nationalists did not have a social majority. ” A few lines below, he regrets: “Unfortunately, the electoral law harmed us and we could not negotiate an alternative government because the majority in Parliament, only two seats apart, was still in the hands of secessionism.” Not a pat on the back for his successor.
Mentions to your collaborators
In the book he alludes to other leaders of Ciudadanos who worked alongside him side by side, and considers that they were and still are his friends. Starting with his “right hand”, José Manuel Villegas, whom he has signed as a partner in his law firm Martínez-Echevarría & Rivera (his last name has just joined the firm), and continuing with Fernando de Páramo – who also resigned -; Carlos Square; José María Espejo; Juan Carlos Girauta –who has left the game–; Carlos Carrizosa; Begoña Villacís; Marta Rivera; Miguel Gutiérrez; Fran Hervías; Melisa Rodríguez; and even the Valencians Toni Cantó and Fernando Giner.
“I have a great friendship with all of them and it has been a pride to work alongside them,” he says. She also refers to her electoral signings such as Marcos de Quinto, Sara Giménez and Edmundo Bal, whom she admits to admire a lot and whom she invited to her 40th birthday, which she celebrated a few days after resigning. But in the 312 pages he forgets some of his other signings that belonged to his Executive, such as Toni Roldán or Francisco de la Torre, who together with Luis Garicano formed his economic team that he boasted so much about.
However, in the chapter in which he refuses to be a “man of the Ibex”, he writes several paragraphs of recognition to Garicano, “a leading economist in the liberal sphere”, of which he highlights his “talent” and his excellent preparation. Both Roldán and De la Torre ended up resigning when they did not agree with their veto to the PSOE and their pacts with PP and Vox, as did Javier Nart, a historical party of the party. But he doesn’t quote any of them even once. Regarding that convulsive Executive and the serious crisis that it unleashed, Rivera also makes no mention except to remember that his strategy of not agreeing with the Socialists received the majority support of the management.
Nor does he name Xavier Pericay, one of the founders of Ciudadanos along with Francecs de Carreras who, disillusioned with the evolution of his former pupil, ended up leaving the party membership. He quotes De Carreras on two occasions, simply to recall that he was his teacher and who he called in 2006 to tell him that he wanted to join the political project that the professor, with a group of intellectuals, had already launched in Catalonia. That project became Ciudadanos, a party of which, as Rivera recalls in his book, he ended up becoming, “in a fluke” and “surrealist way”, its president, by heading the winning list, which was presented in alphabetical order in the constituent congress.
A fictional Spain governed by PSOE, PP and Ciudadanos
His manuscript ends with a chapter, added after it had already been completed, in which he describes a fictional Spain, still subject to the effects of the pandemic, but governed by an Executive of concentration between the PSOE, the PP and Ciudadanos en the one that Josep Borrell and Josep Piqué – two “moderate” leaders – agree to take turns as president every two years. “The XIV legislature was in chaos. The PSOE-Podemos coalition government fell apart due to the continuous discrepancies and contradictions between Sanchez and Iglesias,” he explains. A scenario that Rivera does not think is “impossible” if the “partisan struggles” were abandoned. “The challenges we are facing require high-mindedness to carry out structural reforms,” he says in the book, regretting that these conditions are not met at this time.
Rivera has wasted no time promoting his book and has appeared already in The Hormiguero to be interviewed by Pablo Motos, as well as in the Bertín Osborne program My house is yours. It’s just a start, because the list of interview requests is long. In addition, he has promised his subscribers of the channel that he has open on Telegram to promote his project of ‘Leaders in change’, a digital meeting next October 1 “to comment and debate” the content of some of his revelations of the book.