The leadership of Ciudadanos has decided not to run in the general elections on July 23, saying goodbye to eight years of representation in Congress, where it became the third political force in the chamber and was an investiture partner of both the socialist Pedro Sánchez as of the ‘popular’ Mariano Rajoy, although he did not get to enter the Government.

Ciudadanos-Partido de la Ciudadanía was born in Barcelona in 2006, founded by a group of intellectuals, university professors and professionals from various fields, several of them from the PSC. Conceived as a force in the Catalan sphere, its action was aimed at combating Catalan nationalism.

The founding congress of Ciudadanos took place in July of that year and elected a young 26-year-old lawyer, Albert Rivera, as president. He stood for the elections to the Parliament of Catalonia in 2006 and, holding a campaign poster with Rivera naked through it, won three seats, becoming the sixth political force there.

The next important electoral event for Ciudadanos was the 2007 municipal elections. They obtained a total of 13 councilors in various Catalan municipalities.

And the first generals arrived, those of 2008. Ciudadanos presented lists in all Spanish constituencies and launched a process of drawing up the electoral program in which groups, affiliates and anyone with internet access could formulate proposals. Rivera was the head of the list for Barcelona and Fernando Landecho for Madrid. However, they achieved 0.18% of the vote and did not obtain representation.

They continued presenting themselves to the successive electoral appointments, but without success. For example, they ran for the European Parliament elections in 2009, in coalition with the Irish Libertas party. This is where some of the faces that would remain inextricably linked to the party appear, such as that of José Manuel Villegas, number two of that candidacy and later general secretary of the party.

It was in 2015 when the national expansion of Ciudadanos began. In the regional elections of that year, he obtained 1.2 million votes in the 13 communities and Ceuta and Melilla. In the municipal ones it approached a million and a half votes, occupying the space of UPyD.

The popularity of Ciudadanos did not stop growing. In the general elections of that year, with a turbulent political climate in the background and weakened bipartisanship, the ‘orange’ party already obtained more than 3.5 million votes, achieved 40 deputies and became the fourth political force in the Chamber.

Those elections were won by the PP, but given the refusal of Mariano Rajoy to submit to the investiture, Rivera reached an agreement with the socialist Pedro Sánchez, the so-called ‘Hug Pact’, which ultimately did not prosper due to the No of the PP and Podemos . This failure led to the rerun of the elections and the new elections took place in June 2016.

In those generals, Ciudadanos suffered a setback and stayed at 3.1 million votes, which translated into 32 seats. In the new legislature, Rivera opted for supporting Rajoy, who this time managed to be sworn in for a minority government with external support from the ‘oranges’.

The ruling in the Gürtel case marked the break between Ciudadanos and the PP to the point that Rivera announced in May 2018 that he was ceasing to support the Rajoy government and demanded early elections. But the PSOE went ahead registering a motion of censure that went ahead thanks to the support of the majority of the Lower House and brought Pedro Sánchez to Moncloa.

Almost a year later, Sánchez called early general elections for April 28, 2019, which the PSOE won. Ciudadanos achieved the best result in its history (57 deputies) and became the third political force in Spain, hot on the heels of the PP. The fragmentation of the Congress made necessary negotiations to form a government, but the political parties were incapable.

Rivera had already refused to give his support to Sánchez in the electoral campaign and he hardened his speech, trying to end the hegemony of the PP in the center right. In May 2019, the regional and municipal governments arrived and Ciudadanos was once again the third force, but their pacts with the PP allowed the Pablo Casados ​​to secure governments that they considered lost in Murcia, Madrid and Castilla y León, as well as in numerous capitals of province.

The inability of the political parties to reach an agreement in Congress led to the repetition of the general elections on November 10 and, this time, Ciudadanos paid a high price, despite the fact that in some surveys they predicted a ‘sorpasso’ for the pp. Not only did it not surpass the ‘popular’, but it suffered a severe blow: it lost 2.5 million votes and only obtained ten seats.

The shock led Rivera to resign and he was replaced by Inés Arrimadas, a valuable asset for the party and who had just won the 2017 Catalan elections, although he did not appear at the investiture when the independentistas added a majority.

Since that appointment there have been failures. One of the most notorious was the collapse of the Catalan elections in February 2021, where he lost close to a million votes, 30 seats and went from first to seventh strength, behind Vox. The result was one of the hardest blows for the match.

Barely a month later, things continued to turn sour. In Murcia, in March 2021, the ‘oranges’ allied with the PSOE to kick the PP out of the Murcian government and the Murcia municipal executive. The regional president, the ‘popular’ Fernando López-Miras, managed to get several CS deputies and others previously expelled from Vox to vote against the motion of censure, preventing it from prospering. As a consequence, CS lost power in Murcia and also had to see how three of its deputies became defectors.

Like dominoes, the Madrid president, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, took the opportunity to call early elections and Ignacio Aguado, then vice president, ended up leaving politics and the Ciudadanos list headed by Edmundo Bal was left without representation.

This anticipated break was repeated in Castilla y León, where Francisco Igea was dismissed from the regional government and was only able to revalidate one seat. And in Andalucía Ciudadanos was left out of Parliament and its until then leader, Juan Marín, ended up signed by the PP.

The elections in Andalusia precipitated a process of refounding that the formation already had in mind. The disaster accelerated the plans of the ‘oranges’, harassed by the successive electoral debacles.

The re-foundation included some primaries that showed the seams of the ‘orange’ party. The deputy spokesman, Edmundo Bal, faced the list sponsored by Arrimadas and, ultimately, the winner of the process. The VI General Assembly in mid-January put the finishing touch to the refoundation process and ratified the new Executive, headed by Patricia Guasp and Adrián Vázquez.

Arrimadas continued to lead the parliamentary group, something that was never questioned because the leadership considers her a “benchmark” and Bal continued as deputy spokesperson. Since then there has been peace in Ciudadanos and the new Executive went to work on the 2023 electoral appointments.

But the debacle on Sunday, which meant the disappearance of the ‘oranges’ from all the regional parliaments in contention and the loss of 85% of their councilors and relevant positions such as the Vice Mayor’s Office in the Madrid City Council, has revealed their lack of support in society. “The message of the elections has been very clear,” summarized Adrián Vázquez when announcing the withdrawal on Tuesday.