Ciudadanos don’t give a damn about anything

Inés Arrimadas and her entourage descending on Canet de Mar during their local festival today is very bad form. They strut and swagger about, provoking people with offensive posters and general bad manners, like a group of ultras whose team isn’t playing but who want to enjoy the party too, by creating a bit of tension and confrontation. Of course people get annoyed: it’s not the time or the place, is it? But that’s the whole idea. To make people angry, then point at them and call them “undemocratic”. People don’t like Cs turning up in places they haven’t been invited to and campaigning rudely when there’s no election. If they or theirs don’t like an event some place, they’ll turn up and try to start a fight. Bunches of troublemakers descending on another town’s local festivities is a classic in this part of the world, but you don’t expect it from a national political party. Cs’ attitude is confrontational, excitable and intended to whip up conflict. Then they play the role of “victims of intolerance”, and it’s not the first time. They’ve been at this for a while now.

Arrimadas‘ constant refusal to condemn the ever-growing number of assaults on independentists makes today’s performance all the more irresponsible and reprehensible. Her visit to Canet de Mar is also desperate attention-seeking, with Cs at their lowest ebb in Catalonia and Spain for some time. Cs manage to keep themselves in the headlines, just never for anything positive. Politically, they continue to offer nothing but disruption. There’s good reason they run no councils in Catalonia. That’s right, none. No one trusts the most voted for party in Catalonia at local level. As Valencian MP, Alexis Marí Malonda, formerly of Ciudadanos says, “Ciudadanos don’t give a damn about anything.

On Catalan television tonight, the party built on defections from other parties will see one of its own that got away. Alexis Marí will be explaining why he no longer represents Ciudadanos, how he escaped the political party that looks more like a sect the closer it gets to power. Until one year ago, the security expert  was a Ciudadano. Now the MP forms part of the independent Unaffiliated group of four in the Valencian parliament – the Courts. He appears on regular Saturday night live slot, FAQs, TV3‘s political debate show and big ratings success.
The programme won’t be seen in Spain, or the wider world, which is a shame. Souls could have been saved.

So for those that won’t be able to tune in, here is my translation of Alexis Marí’s interview with Àngel Martínez of El Nacional entitled “A Ciutadans li importa tot un rave” – “Ciudadanos don’t give a damn about anything” – in which he explains the reasons for his disillusionment with Ciudadanos and why he abandoned their ranks:

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Alexis Marí: “Ciudadanos don’t give a damn about anything”

Angel Martínez

Valencia. Saturday, June 16, 2018

Alexis Marí Malonda (València, 1972) is the director of a private security firm, a former Civil Guard, and an independent MP in the Valencian Courts. A year ago he quit as Ciudadanos (Cs) parliamentary spokesperson, and the party, along with three other MPs due to open differences with Albert Rivera who Marí says has surrounded himself with the worst of the extreme right and uses the gangster-style practices of the Gestapo. In his farewell, Alexis Marí described his colleagues as a group of “PP rubble “. He is married to the Ciudadanos MEP, Carolina Punset. Marí’s words on Cs were quoted by the Esquerra Repúblicana de Catalunya (ERC) MP, Sergi Sabrià, in a reply to Inés Arrimadas during the president’s investiture debate.

Do you still have friends in Ciudadanos?

Yes. I have a thousand flaws, but one virtue, and that’s behaving with empathy. I try to cultivate everyone’s friendship, even if they hold political ideas that are far from my own.

How did this radical change in your ideological relationship with the Cs come about in the period between 2015 and 2017?

I could give a thousand examples related to the party’s programme and identity. I still have some emails from the current Ciudadanos’ leaders where they said that people should attend the rallies without Spanish or regional flags. It was a party that wanted to seem part of the citizenry. And that each person choose his own identity without imposing ideas, colours or flags.

What has Cs become?

Well, you can see for yourself. At the last rally, covering Marta Sánchez with kisses. They couldn’t have found a bigger Spanish flag… Cs practise a brand of stale nationalism with very dangerous rhetoric and they’re are not open to debate. Let me explain: I put myself up for election on a programme that defined the party as progressive, of which nothing remains; it isn’t transversal, it was liberal because it let the citizens decide what they wanted to do…  and that’s gone too. They grew from defections from other parties and decided to move from calling themselves Social Democrats to being called Liberals, and the most ultraliberal and rancid part has triumphed.

Did that happen in the Valencian Community too?

Of course, when we decided to topple the Valencian Signs of Identity Law and the vote was split. And also in other questions, such as the ecological issue, whether to close nuclear power plants or not. We went from hesitation to abstention to voting ‘no’. A radical change; instead of “let’s distance ourselves from”, what won was “what’s left.” And I don’t like to waste energy on people when, obviously, you know that it won’t go anywhere. I was invited to the wedding, but I was the cousin nobody wanted there. The definitive split came over the general budgets of the State with which the Rajoy’s government severely damaged the Valencian Community. All parliamentary groups signed a rejection document. It was at that time that a person from Cs’ HQ told me that this was “nationalist.” The idyll was over.

For Cs, if you eat paella you are a good Valencian

They say that when you were a Cs’ ombudsman in the Valencian Courts, you flirted with the government of PSPV and Compromís.

That’s unforgivably simplistic talk. When Cs set up in the Valencian Community, we said that we had to change things. We didn’t want the PP, corrupt to the core, and to do that we had to vote for initiatives with Podemos, Compromís, the PSPV or even with the PP themselves in some cases. We voted for democratic regeneration with Podemos, the environment with Compromís and dismissed all that we knew to be rancid, “If you ate paella, you were a good Valencian, and if not, you weren’t.” Then we were forced to change in such a way that we were more aligned with the right-wing parties than with those who wanted change.

Arrimadas, de Páramo or Villegas’ rhetoric makes me puke

One narrative?

I listen to Arrimadas, de Páramo or Villegas’ speeches and it all sounds the same to me. If you go a fraction off-message, they go for you. I wonder if all party activists share the ideology one hundred percent? You can’t say you don’t like something if it goes against the party whip. Not about the treatment of Catalonia, or the Mossos, or their obsession with security forces post 1-O. It’s the norm. I was a member of the security forces. What a coincidence, after 1-O we worry about them. Nothing before. It makes me want to puke, or explode.

If an extra-terrestrial came down to earth it would become an independentist

But this narrative is benefitting Cs.

That’s how it goes. There are people who have bought the powerful anti-narrative of division, suggesting that “either you’re in this trench or the other.” There is no middle ground; you can’t you reach agreements or pacts. If an alien landed in Plaza de Colón in Madrid (Columbus Square), it would automatically become an independentist with everything that is happening here.

Are Cs promoting independence in Catalonia?

It’s an irrefutable fact. Since Rajoy came to power, how many independentists and other people are there who are uncomfortable with the behaviour of the State? There must be bilateral relations between an autonomous community and the State. You don’t have to go to the University of Salamanca to know that it’s falling down. President Torrent has been waiting for Rajoy to receive him.

You were a Ciudadanos activist; what do they propose for Catalonia?

I don’t know. Is everyone in Catalonia supposed to be crazy? Guardiola, Eduard Punset, people of tremendous intellectual prestige…? Criminalizing half the population of Catalonia, whatever they think, is a mistake. There are many Cs leaders in Catalonia who have done nothing but inflame the situation trolling on Twitter, like with ex-Minister Mundó, for example.

I know the prisons and they’re not Disneyland Paris. They are places where you suffer a lot and there are people who just encourage a distancing of positions, not a compromise. Both Carolina Punset and I think it’s terrible that a person like Junqueras is in prison. Imagine what Cs will say if they find out…

You four form the Unaffiliated parliamentary group with two ex-PP representatives; does this mean the end of your political career in 2019 or are you open to offers?

(He laughs). This isn’t like the private sector where, when you get moved on or lose interest in a project, you contact colleagues in your sector. Yes, there’s been contact with other groups where we might fit in, but everyone has to think about what they want to do. I can go back to my old career, but we’ll see.

I will not join Sociedad Civil Valenciana

Do you back the Valencian Civil Society platform that is being set up, the mirror image of its Catalan counterpart?

No. And I’ve also seen profiles that are light years from my political ideology. I wish them luck, but I won’t be there. I am more interested in discussion groups to dialogue and contribute ideas. I’d sit down and talk to Elsa Artadi, for instance.

I would give half my salary to know what Cs’ ideology is

Will Carolina continue with Cs?

I think I know the answer, but I can’t say. I’ve asked her many times what she’s doing still there. I don’t believe that Cs as a party represents her; she’d be better off with the Greens, but you’ll have to ask her.

Going back to Cs, what is your plan?

I’d pay half my salary for you to tell me. If today we vote one thing in the Courts, four months later the opposite is decided in a talk at party executive level, which upsets people. When I used to get in a taxi they’d always ask me, “are you right or left?” Cs is not transversal.

You always talk about being able to support initiatives from other parties. What were they?

The networks are full of videos of Albert saying that the party’s economic policies would be decided by party members, “but we have Garicano.” They can’t be switching discourse depending on what Sigma 2 says, or Metroscopia. If it suits them, they’ll happily play the role of the PP’s own brand party because the October study says it’s in their interests.

I’ll say something for Compromis, and Minister Marzà for example, it’s that they don’t deviate from the policy that they want to implement and how they’ll do it. And if that increases their share of the vote, great. Cs don’t give a damn. Count the number of people who have gone for this reason: the spokespersons of Alacant and Valencia councils, national MP for Castelló, Carolina Punset, you know this is nothing for Cs to celebrate and many activists have given it up owing to lack of motivation. All because of the change of course that no one explained.

The Mossos have given exceptional service to Catalonia

What has been your most relevant parliamentary contribution?

My support, for example, for the start-up of regional television has made Cs uncomfortable. But here in Valencia it’s always the same, “Catalanise the conflict”, a bit of “TV3 are all mobsters and indoctrinate…” We set four conditions for our support of creating À Punt: an expenditure ceiling, representation on the board, that it focus on the territory and that it dynamise the audiovisual sector. If these four conditions were fulfilled, how could we then say no?

And another commitment has been to set up an Autonomic police force. I know the Mossos d’Esquadra and I know they have given exceptional service to Catalonia. It’s the ignorance. I have friends who are Mossos and are brilliant at their jobs. Anyone who knows Trapero cannot deny his professionalism. He did really well. He’s dismantled organized crime gangs and earned the respect of those who have worked with him. And now, they want us to believe that the Mossos are vandals. Casting doubt and suspicion about the Mossos is a terrible and serious mistake.

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