Santiago Llorente: "Ciudadanos is not a hostile party or that we see from a distance"


Santiago Llorente (Madrid, 1969) is happy after having closed in the middle of this last week an agreement to govern in coalition with the three councilors that Ciudadanos in Leganés achieved in 2019, of which the support he has received since the beginning of the legislature. Thanks to this agreement, the spokesperson for Ciudadanos, Enrique Morago, will assume the Vice Mayor’s Office and will have the competences of Economy, Local Development and Employment; Maria Pilar Cano will be in charge of the Family and Social Policies area, and Jose Manuel Egea will assume Mobility and the presidency of the San Nicasio District Board. The pact buries the first two years of agreement between the PSOE and Más-Madrid Leganemos, whose two councilors have ended up facing each other after the accusations of the spokesperson of this group to their own comrade for sexist violence.

The socialist mayor of this important Madrid municipality -which is also secretary general of the PSOE in this town- defends the change of partners despite criticism from the opposition -ULEG and Podemos-IU- who do not understand that he has decided to govern with the party de Arrimadas, who maintains a veto of Pedro Sánchez’s PSOE at the national level. Llorente, however, highlights the need to “guarantee stability” in the Madrid municipality, denying at the same time that the decision is linked to the replacement that will soon take place in Alcobendas, where Citizens’ spokesman Miguel Ángel Arranz – who he was going to replace the socialist mayor in compliance with the agreement between both parties – he was dismissed by Villacís for the benefit of Aitor Retolaza. But Arranz refused to leave the act becoming “not assigned” and announced that he was leaving the party membership. Shortly after, he was placed as an advisor in the Leganés government area under the orders of the new deputy mayor, Enrique Morago. A signing that according to Carlos Delgado Pulido, ULEG spokesman, has been a real “trade-off” to pave the way in Alcobendas. “We have never spoken of Alcobendas in the Leganés negotiations,” affirms the councilor, bluntly.

Leganés has launched a new government this week, this time with Citizens. Do you feel comfortable with this change of partners?

We had actually been working together for two years. We have approved the important files of the city together with Ciudadanos because although we governed with Más-Madrid Leganemos, we needed the votes of Ciudadanos, even though they were in the opposition. So the line of work that we are going to carry out from now on is going to be continuous, nothing new.

Citizens, at least at the national level, refuse to agree with the sanchismo. Why do you think you have decided to do it in Leganés with you and your party, breaking that rule?

Citizens also govern with the PSOE in Alcobendas, San Sebastián de los Reyes, San Fernando de Henares, Algete and in some other municipality, that is, local politics has nothing to do with the national or the autonomous communities. In the municipalities, the neighbor is put first before the directives of the political parties, and in the municipalities there are agreements of all kinds of colors. Citizens in this case what it has done is put the needs of citizens and the stability of town councils first.

The agreement had to be ratified by the militants of the municipality’s PSOE. Did you ever fear being rejected?

No. Since the last Congress, our party has established these consultations in all cases. We already did it at the beginning of the legislature for the agreement with Más-Madrid Leganemos and now it was mandatory. What worried us the most was a low turnout but, well, almost two hundred people voting is an important number in Leganés and I think the pact is strengthened. Of course, if Ciudadanos had supported a motion of censure in the Community of Madrid with Ángel Gabilondo eight months ago, we would all have found ourselves absolutely more comfortable, that is, Ciudadanos is not a hostile party or that we see from a distance. The affiliates have understood that at this time it was the best way to guarantee the stability of the municipality.

He says that participation in the consultation was important but from a census of 531 people only 189 militants voted, there were 163 votes in favor, 13 against and 13 abstentions. What do you blame for this lack of interest from your own activism in the future of the municipality?

It seems like a very high percentage to me. Keep in mind that we are at the beginning of September and there are still people who are still on vacation. And it also seems to me an important number considering the number of affiliates who regularly participate in other types of consultations. It is not a low participation, really.

I said before that Ciudadanos could support a motion of censure in the Community of Madrid with Ángel Gabilondo. But Ignacio Aguado did not do it and the party preferred to continue governing with the PP when it could have changed the political course in the Community of Madrid.

Well, the truth is that decisions are made at a certain time and it is easy to comment later. I believe that perhaps when an agreement with the PSOE at the national level was also possible and Albert Rivera resigned that agreement, the identity problems of Ciudadanos began. But I do not know. It’s easy to have a say after things happen. In any case, if Ciudadanos has now made the decision to be useful in the municipalities where they are and can govern, I think it is good for the neighbors.

His relations, on the other hand, with Podemos-IU do not seem to be very good. In fact, the coalition asked the socialist militants to stop the pact with Ciudadanos, criticizing it harshly.

Well, we spoke with them in July to see if they were interested in being part of the Leganés government and they told us that they preferred to remain in the opposition. I do not understand it because if you run for the elections what you want is to govern, right? With Unidos Podemos we already tried to form a government at the beginning of the legislature and we also spoke with the regional leadership before the summer and they told us that we were ideologically very far apart, although we govern together at the national level, but they considered that in Leganés it was unfeasible.

Was it a pact to form a three-way government between the PSOE, Podemos-IU and also with Ciudadanos?

No no no. Only with them and they told us no and then we spoke with Citizens. We have never raised a political agreement between Ciudadanos-Podemos-PSOE, we are aware that this is very complicated.

The ULEG denounced at the beginning of the legislature the “perks” that, in the opinion of this opposition group, Citizens received since two of its leaders entered the management of the land companies and the one in charge of the media to change in the support they were giving to their party.

We are looking for two professionals in the management of these two companies, but at the moment neither of them is there anymore. One said goodbye to the City Council months ago and the other left a few days ago. We have always looked for people with capacity, but they were not privileged to any councilor of Ciudadanos. In these cases, the mayor proposes as positions of trust those people who he considers can better occupy the positions, sometimes they are affiliates of the PSOE and others of other parties or independents.

Now they also criticize that they have been granted important areas of government.

Let’s see, being in the opposition I understand that it is not easy. I’ve never been but I imagine it’s difficult. One is paid a salary every month for trying to improve the city. Those who vote against everything I think hardly help the city. Citizens from the opposition have supported the Government on many occasions, at least on important issues. I think it is appropriate to thank him and we have agreed on a division of government areas. On the other hand, there are other parties such as ULEG and United We Can, which vote absolutely against everything.

What has happened to break the pact with Más-Madrid Leganemos? Did not work?

Now the municipal group is just Leganemos. There were personal problems between the two councilors of Más-Madrid Leganemos, a complaint from one to the other, although previously there were relationship problems between them that were hindering the government. The positions of trust that Leganemos promoted were some in favor of a councilor, and others in favor of the other councilor, that is, there were work problems and when personal problems are transferred to the labor or political sphere, they become very difficult the relationships. There were no political problems, they were of a personal nature and the citizens deserve a little more seriousness.

Eva Martínez, the councilor of that group that he denounced his partner for “sexist violence”, he left the government accusing you of not having spoken in his favor and regretting that the will leave you “in the lurch.”

I don’t know what that means, my party has always supported the victims. She was the Councilor for Culture, Social Services, and Equality of the Leganés City Council, that is, in the office next door she had a team of professionals who work on sexist violence, so she had tools close to her in case they were needed. . When he told me that he was going to go to the police station to file this complaint, I gave him my full support and encouragement. Later, the political leadership of Más-Madrid contacted me to tell me that if precautionary measures were established against the other councilor, they would ask me to remove the other councilor from the government and it seemed reasonable to me. The judge did not decide to take these precautionary measures and Más-Madridlo suspended him from activism on a precautionary basis but did not expel him. As the councilor was on sick leave and did not come to work, political decisions had to be made because Justice has its channels and politics has others.

Will this agreement with Ciudadanos last until the end of the legislature?

I am convinced that it will last until the end of the term. Citizens want immediate solutions to their problems and what they don’t understand are boycotts and political problems. When a neighbor sees that we are not capable of fixing something because the Plenary does not approve it, he does not understand why the councilors are not able to agree. I also have to remember one thing, that the agreement between the PSOE and Ciudadanos does not have an absolute majority, there are ten of the PSOE plus three of Ciudadanos and the absolute majority is established at 14, which means that we will continue to need agreements with other political formations , like Leganemos, ULEG, the PP or whoever it is, so our hand continues to be extended to negotiate with all those groups each of the files.

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