Edmundo Bal (Huelva, 1967) appears to direct the new course of Ciudadanos, a "progressive liberal center" party that he wants to become a hinge between social democrats and conservatives. Along with Madrid councilor Santiago Saura, who aspires to be the new secretary general, his candidacy obtained half the endorsements of those faithful to Inés Arrimadas.
He likes to present his challenge as the fight between David and Goliath.
We have been saying it from the beginning due to the pure logic of confronting the officialdom of a party, the organization, the team, with heads of press, in the cabinet... We are the contestant, critical, young candidacy. We bring together people who were in Catalonia at the beginning, a bit of that spirit of rebellion that this party had when it was born. To face the list of Inés Arrimadas you have to be brave. There has been a lot of pressure on institutional charges not to come with our team.
After being, as was said, his faithful squire, why have they distanced themselves so much? What is the origin of their differences?
I raised my hand two months ago to say that I did not agree with the official party line. Such adverse results have brought us here. Because the re-foundation process, which has a very valuable job, will end falsely. Nothing will be refounded if they continue to lead. If people turn on the television and see that the voice is that of Arrimadas, they will say that it is the same party as before. The same one that falls in the polls and that in the evaluation of leaders appears last.
Wouldn't it have been better to wash the dirty laundry at home and arrive together at the general assembly?
I take a step forward from the leadership of the party itself and that is very complicated. I said we were on the wrong track. You cannot change an old thing by making it new with the same faces as before. But I am negotiating with Inés Arrimadas, not with Adrián Vázquez or Patricia Guasp, who are leading her candidacy. Up to three times I met with her and I spoke on the phone two other times. Even by messengers to try to reach a safe port. No media finds out. Until the day comes when the negotiations become a sea bream dialogue where the only option is for Arrimadas to get away with it.
What was it that prevented reaching an agreement?
We did not reach an agreement, having offered to withdraw completely, to drop all charges. I am not undertaking this adventure to obtain a position, nor to confront Arrimadas, nor for any kind of rivalry with her, nothing like that. But she is not willing, she wants to keep her spokesperson, which makes her the visible face, the loudspeaker from the political point of view. And that will mean that if she wins the primaries, the whole world will understand that absolutely nothing has changed and we will face the 2023 elections without guarantees. It's frustrating.
But was there any effort on your part to achieve unity?
What unity can there be if the entire party apparatus is on your list? I have tried to have people from all territories. I have been especially excited by those who have come from Catalonia, old people, but also very young people, people who had resigned and are now returning because they see that there is a serious candidacy that is simply presenting itself so that internal democracy can work, to present an alternative. It hurt me personally when Arrimadas said that if I didn't reconsider, she would be forced to present a candidacy as leader or owner of this party. It is what she has done, presenting her candidacy, in whatever position, to continue to maintain herself as a leader, from behind.
What ideas are you going to propose to the militancy? At the moment, his has obtained half the endorsements of the other candidacy...
There remains a campaign to carry out, a campaign to reillusion. We are going to transmit the message that we are never going to be an internal current of the PP. We are going to be an autonomous political party, with its ideas, its values, which are those of progressive liberalism. It will catch on with people, because it is what the affiliates want, that idea of the future, of hope.
Is it more a debate of people than of ideas?
From a personal point of view, I don't think there is anyone who is more like Inés than me. I have worked with her for three years. I have come out to give the bad news, because it was my role as spokesperson. It is true that there are candidates who want to sell this, show this personal confrontation that does not exist. Arrimadas took charge of the game in the most difficult moments. I continue to help her in debates in Congress. Whoever wants to see a personal confrontation in this is transmitting a very petty, opportunistic, base and absolutely false message.
But there is a moment when their paths definitely forked, when did it all start?
The day that I raise my hand in the permanent executive and say: "I do not agree with the model of two-headedness, with you remaining as spokesperson in Congress without you showing up and without the affiliates voting for you. Right now we need strong leadership and I think you have to step aside. And if you think I have to give it too, I will. You have to take off the blindfold and see the reality of the game. We need a real change. Let the people see it. To return to excite and that this project so necessary for Spain survives ". Later, when I see that it's impossible, that's when I decide that I'm going to introduce myself. They leave me no other, from the point of view of my own responsibility.
Was the problem the new two-headed structure?
She proposes a party scheme in which there is an organic apparatus that is in the background, which is in charge of the plumbing, of delivering the bad news. And then those of us who stayed in Congress looking cool, attending to the media, making brilliant speeches, giving interviews to the newspapers. And that is what cannot be, because people are going to turn on the television and they are going to continue watching Inés Arrimadas, and they are going to say: "This is more of the same. It is the same party as before the refoundation." A farce. Because in the end it doesn't count to make the change, you also have to transmit it.
But precisely for questioning that collegiate structure, you are accused of Caesarism...
I have tried to have authority, but I have never liked to command. I have worked as a team and I am not bossy or a Caesar. I have lost many sentences and I know what it is to be wrong or not to be given. I am a very little vain person. I don't have ego. I always respect the opinions of others, I discuss and I do not impose my criteria. And perhaps for this reason practically everyone in the parliamentary group has given me their support.