Begoña Villacís (Madrid, 44 years old) has given EL PAÍS her first political interview after announcing, once again, that she will be a Ciudadanos candidate for Mayor of Madrid.
After inaugurating the new Jardín in the capital, Carlos Matallanas, a Madrid journalist who died for ELA, openly admits in his office at the Palacio de Cibeles that two weeks ago he lived, probably, his worst political week after delaying his announcement as a candidate and flirting with the pp.
“I could have done it differently,” she admits.
She also anticipates that if Ciudadanos does not enter the City Council, she will abandon politics.
But it's not going to happen,” she asserts.
Do you think that the Ciudadanos voter is happy with their latest movements in these weeks?
It has been quite a difficult week in all aspects.
We could have done it differently.
But I think it is now explained.
What there has been is a week of doubts, but before a week of doubts, I can put seven and a half years of a way of acting and a service record that I think is impeccable.
And also, not only has it been explained by me, but by the other party [PP].
All this issue has been clarified.
Every politician in Spain has a difficult week.
I think facts outweigh rumors.
I understand that there are people who ask themselves questions and that is why I considered it necessary to go out and clarify it.
On January 27, EL PAÍS published that you were evaluating for the first time and, among other options, being an internal current within the PP.
In fact, he confirmed to us by phone that he had indeed considered that option.
That this option had been considered.
I mean, that topic came up.
That topic came up and I clearly said that it is not my option, but rather that I valued other options.
You had to attend in the most efficient way possible.
I still think about it and I continue to defend it and, in fact, many of the people who asked me and who asked me to vindicate it have already emerged or have taken the baton.
I believe that they are going to be successful formulas and we have there, for example, the case of Alcobendas [to compete on an independent platform with other local parties].
And, if that serves to guarantee the permanence of liberals in that government, it seems essential to me.
But then at the municipal level, here in the City Council, did you consider being an internal current within the PP?
No, at the municipal level it was never raised.
I am very realistic.
When we were in a process of refounding, no topic of conversation was avoided, none is none.
They were all addressed, even solutions much more difficult and harsher than that.
Well, dissolve the party and create a new one.
But, in your case, what senior officials of Ciudadanos tell us is that you, verbatim, said that you valued being an internal current within the PP.
What made you think that?
He didn't take me.
She brought up the topic of conversation at some point.
But you brought up the subject…
That I did not bring up the subject.
And why then did you request a meeting with the general coordinator of the PP, Elías Bendodo?
No. I did not ask.
And… let's see… This meeting has come out, but others that I have had with other political parties could have come out.
Which, furthermore, I don't feel like pointing out, because I don't want them to experience what I have experienced.
But believe me, I have not only met with people from the PP.
Have you also met with the organization secretary of the PSOE?
No, but if you ask me, I'll meet tomorrow.
But, in this case, you asked Elías Bendodo.
No, it was not in those terms.
I take this opportunity to say that the day we normalize that people who are from different political parties have to sit down and talk without much problem and without anyone tearing their clothes off, I think we will make great progress in politics.
The deputy mayor, Begoña Villacís, in her Madrid City Council office.
And why didn't you tell the Ciudadanos leadership that you were going to meet with the general coordinator of the PP?
I think that I did mention it to him... I don't know if to the management, but come on, it didn't seem to me that he was doing...
In that meeting with Bendodo, did you consider going on the PP lists?
That part has been cleared by both parties.
And, regarding the content of the meeting, I keep discretion.
Did they not offer you to go on their lists? Was there talk of your future?
We talked about the political situation in general.
And, regarding my future, I come from the legal world and the evidence is the evidence and the facts are the facts.
What I've been doing for seven and a half years is what I've been saying for seven and a half years.
And the current reality is that I am where I am [Citizens].
Do you think you could have made a mistake by delaying your decision to stand as a candidate for Ciudadanos for Mayor of Madrid?
Yes, I think about it, I think I should have left earlier.
Did you have doubts about running as a candidate?
It was not so much that as that he caught me with a tremendous kindergarten virus.
And between that, seeing how this evolved... and seeing that it was made up of speculation, I mean, if I get out of focus, it just goes off by itself, because there's no more.
There are no more things, but seeing that it did not go out, I went out to explain it.
But, why that Monday, at the meeting with the councilors, who also asked her whether or not she was going to be the candidate, did she not answer them;
nor did she tell him later in the phone call with Adrián Vázquez, general secretary of Ciudadanos?
That day I did not arrive at the meeting [with Adrián Vázquez] because I had a fever.
But we did talk on the phone, we made an assessment of the situation.
It did not come up in the conversation if he introduced me or not.
I think it's something that everyone takes for granted.
In fact, the party issued a statement saying that I was going to be the candidate.
And with my councilors I met with them to listen to them.
During this exchange of messages in the media, do you think that the PP has been loyal to you?
Well, the last taste in my mouth that I have, who is the one in charge, is that [Alberto Núñez] Feijóo was very honest in his interview on Onda Cero.
The honesty that he demonstrated, I sincerely appreciate.
He said that he had not proposed me to the PP and he could have kept quiet.
Are we never going to see her in the PP?
Let's see, it's that I have been answering that question for the last two years and, I say the same thing again, I am presenting myself for Ciudadanos at a very difficult, very difficult time.
This is not done by many people.
Here the surveys tell us that we are viable and decisive.
But… to be clear, aren't we going to see it in the PP?
I have already said it many times.
And after the elections?
But let's see, after the elections I will be vice mayor of Madrid or mayor of Madrid.
One of the two things, I think I will be mayoress of Madrid.
I love local politics.
I love Madrid and we have a lot of projects that we want to develop.
What if finally the results of Ciudadanos in Madrid are not as expected?
It is that they are going to be.
But are you considering leaving politics if they are not as expected?
The advantage I have is that I have a job that gives me a lot of freedom.
But it will not happen.
Citizens will enter.
The polls say so.
The city of Madrid is something else.
Here we have a tour.
Villacís, in his office at the Madrid City Council.
Let's talk about politics and municipal management, what do you feel most proud of as vice mayor in these four years?
Of many things.
For me it was very emotional when we finished with the seats of the homeless.
The children's scholarships that are known as nursery checks seem fundamental to me.
The 75-kilometre-long Metropolitan Forest that will surround the city of Madrid, the video game Campus, support for the hotel industry and the terraces that Vox laughs at and calls me
but that have saved many jobs.
What project do you have in mind for Madrid in the next four years?
We are currently preparing the program, but it will be a very cutting-edge project.
We are going to this program with one that is already being fulfilled.
Why would the liberal voter have to vote for you and not for Almeida?
The Ciudadanos vote is a vote that is committed to the economy and that is very liberal in the social part.
It is a vote that is committed to Pride, that works for LGTBI politics, that recognizes sexist violence, that recognizes abortion, euthanasia, surrogacy.
We are different.
In the case of the Andalusian elections, where they also governed in coalition with the popular ones, the Ciudadanos candidate, Juan Marín, did not differ much from Juanma Moreno (PP), he attacked Macarena Olona (Vox) more and lost all the seats.
In his case, how do you plan the campaign? Will you attack Almeida?
Here we have differentiated ourselves in an elegant way and in many things.
At the Valdemingómez landfill, in El Orgullo, we maintained Madrid Central.
My position will be to claim my space.
Being opposed to Ortega Smith [Vox].
My space is the space of freedom, without populism or authoritarianism.
A center space.
Isn't the space of freedom Ayuso's slogan?
I believe that everyone has their definition of freedom.
I, for example, would not have appealed against marriage between people of the same sex, or abortion... I think that the party most similar to the people of Madrid is us.
If they are so similar, why do you think they are not recognized electorally?
Well, because the coalition governments have a very complicated position.
When you are in a government you have to agree.
It has happened to us that if there is a Ciudadanos project, it is attributed to Almeida.
It is a matter of the fact that in Spain we do not have enough coalition culture.
Now it's about claiming it.
Do you think that the situation of the party at the national level can drag your candidacy?
It is a fact.
Acronyms take you.
I speak much more about political space and the political project than acronyms, the liberal center must be defended.
Do you feel legitimized after not having reached the total number of endorsements to attend the primaries?
That was a miscalculation that we did not have.
I could get the full endorsements if I wanted to tomorrow.
They simply had not taken into account that they had changed from 10% to 15%.
No one has given it any importance.
Would you like to have the same team?
Yes, I would like to have people who have worked well, including other profiles who have been working with us and who have worked very well.
Will Ciudadanos survive after May 28?
Yes. I have it very clear because we are going to municipal.
It's a different vote.
You do not vote against Pedro Sánchez, no matter how much they say yes.
Local politics, I insist, is a very different thing.
And after the generals?
Of course yes.
The municipal ones have to serve us to reach that point.
I'm going to work for it.
to our daily newsletter about Madrid.