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In light of the extraordinary rise of Podemos, it has been clear for some time that the next Spanish general elections will put an end to the country's traditional two-party system. But the recent poll surge of another contender, the centrist party Ciudadanos, suggests Spain may be on course to become a four-party country. Our Southern Europe expert Vincenzo Scarpetta introduces Ciudadanos and looks at the potential implications of its 'irruption' on the Spanish national political scene.
9 March 2015
Spaniards will head to the polls for general elections in the autumn, or in January 2016 at the latest. In light of the extraordinary rise of the anti-establishment party Podemos over the past year, the vote was already widely expected to put an end to the ‘duopoly’ of the centre-right Partido Popular and the Socialist Party.
As if this was not enough of a change, though, the latest opinion polls suggest Spain may well be on course to become a four-party country. This is due to the rapid surge of Ciudadanos (Citizens), a rather different beast from Podemos but yet another sign that Spanish voters are eager for something new.
According to a new Metroscopia poll published by El País yesterday, Ciudadanos would be the fourth-largest party in a general election, trailing Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Partido Popular by only 0.2%. As the graph below shows, support for Ciudadanos has skyrocketed from 8.1% to 18.4% in just two months.
Ciudadanos is much older than Podemos. It was founded in Barcelona in 2006 as a civic platform backed by a group of Catalan intellectuals opposed to Catalonia’s independence. Since then, Ciudadanos has mostly operated as a regional party. It currently holds nine seats in the Catalan parliament and two seats in the European Parliament.
The leader of Ciudadanos is the telegenic Albert Rivera, a lawyer and a former professional swimmer who is currently a member of the Catalan parliament. Incidentally, Rivera is one year younger than Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias.
Ciudadanos presents itself as a moderate, centrist force whose aim is to attract disappointed voters from both the centre-right and the centre-left. Its economic programme, called ‘The sensible change’, is being prepared by two well-known Spanish economists: Luis Garicano of the LSE and Manuel Conthe, a former head of Spanish financial markets watchdog CNMV.
The first bits of the programme, on labour market reform, have already been unveiled. The key proposals include:
The economic programme of Ciudadanos is still a ‘work in progress’ – and further details will be fleshed out over the coming months. The impression is that the party wants to offer voters a mix of liberalism and social democracy. According to its website, Ciudadanos wants to cut down on paperwork and time needed to start a business in Spain, open up the domestic market to greater competition and attract more foreign investments. It also envisages making budget savings by slimming down public administration and streamlining local government.
Needless to say, Ciudadanos makes a big deal of ‘democratic regeneration’ – that is, boost the transparency of the Spanish political system, step up the fight against tax evasion and corruption, and so forth.
On the euro and Europe, the economic programme of Ciudadanos reads,
Spain’s progress goes via Europe […] It is now everyone’s responsibility to deal with the legacy of the [Eurozone] crisis. Furthermore, a monetary arrangement that allows for unemployment rates of over 20% during years cannot last long. We believe in more Europe, but we are aware that it is not realistic to speak of a Federal Europe now, since there is not sufficient political support to push ahead with it.
Therefore, Ciudadanos proposes that Southern Eurozone countries “seriously commit themselves to a programme of structural reforms.” In return, Northern countries will have to show more solidarity – for example by agreeing to create a common fund to fight high unemployment.
As I said, the recent poll surge of Ciudadanos confirms that Spanish voters are fed up with the traditional two-party system. Bear in mind that it only became clear a couple of months ago that Ciudadanos would contest the next general elections in the whole country.
Compared to Podemos, the party led by Albert Rivera proposes a less radical economic agenda and can be seen as more likely to join a coalition government with one of the two traditional parties. This has two important consequences. First, it could shift undecided voters away from Podemos – particularly those who haven’t been impressed by SYRIZA’s negotiating record in Europe so far. Incidentally, the poll I mentioned at the beginning of this post shows support for Podemos has fallen by over 5% in only one month and now looks to be on a downward trend – although, of course, the party of Pablo Iglesias remains in the lead.
Second, provided it wins enough votes to be the kingmaker, Ciudadanos could offer both Partido Popular and the Socialist Party a third alternative to either an alliance with Podemos (which looks unlikely at this stage) or an uncomfortable Gran Coalición between themselves. In other words, depending on the distribution of seats in the next Spanish parliament, coalition formation might end up being easier in a post-election scenario with four big parties than it would be with just three of them.
The raft of local and regional elections across Spain over the coming months will probably give us a better understanding of the real weight of each party and the alliances that could potentially materialise at the national level.
thankyou parvulesco :)
temax I wont insult you , but I stand 100% by what I said, remember Yugoslavia?
@celtic wisdom We remember Yugoslavia, and to your point you should to... Created in 1918 to unite different nations under on kingdom, which served no reality as well as a conflict zone, due to the cultural and religious differences, were a Communist regime took over and forced migrations to create a false "Union", which ended in a brutal civil war... I belive this is far off from Spain.
Either you don't live in Spain and don't understand the reality, or you do but you can't process the reality, don't take it as an insult, just trying to help you...
@hjprado @celtic wisdom The Spanish civil war was far off more brutal than the Yugoslavian one, just saying... Maybe you can't process the reality either of a country splitting.
@parvulesco Since you're just saying, let's get the facts right, I can also say a lot of things but that would take time.
Fact, The Yugoslavian split was due to ethnic, racial and religious issues, Spain was due to political factors Nationalists vs. Republicans (Right and left winged, remember there was a CEDA gov.)
More facts, I guess neither you nor I have participated in any of them so we really don't know nor understand the "cruelty" of these wars or any war, just saying. What matters is that the Yugoslavian dissolution was as "brutal" "cruel" or "horrifying as any civil war, Spanish, American, or Russian... no point to defend any of them.
But comparing Spain with Yugoslavia is like saying that Catalonia is the Texas of Spain, that would only be simple minded.
Albert Rivera, Citizens's leader,is a great leader, clever, very smart and with a great sense of State and very good European Union involvement. Definitely I will vote this spanish party. I prefer political parties with a global vision of Spain as a country instead of a miriad of small countries whatever we call them, be: States, Country , Region, Lander, or even Provinces.
We were at Rivera's meeting on 6th msrch in Almeria . He spoke well and was convincing on anti-corruption - though in 9 years as a Catalan Deputy he never took any initiative. There eas a notable absence of any explication if where the money would come from to pay fir his (many) laudable aspirations. His audience were largely young employed middle class. If Cs had not dwitched from their anti-nationalist catalan role these people would probably still be with the PP. The upcoming Andalusian regional election will be important for the future in Spain as we will see if CS are really commuted to change or if they will pact with the PP = no change.
spain isn't a country. its destined to split.
@celtic wisdom I don't know what the future has in store for Spain, England or any country. What I know is that Spain is indeed a nation, one of the oldest nations in Europe, along with England, France and others. One nation that came into being 500 years ago, after its identity was created long time before that from the Romans. We are talking of a very old nation, and Spaniards do exist and will exist.
I don't care too much about politics though, in the sense that it usually is used by people to divide people. But you should really go back to school and study Geography. USA, England, France, Spain...are countries, some older that other. For example, here in America, we know very well how much France and Spain helped on the revolutionary war. Or the reason why San Francisco is names that way, or California. Or why until 2055 Florida has been more time Spanish than American. That's history, a huge one, and very interesting indeed.Sorry to reveal you this unpleasant reality to you.Best,
People tried twice to split and it never happened. They a distant to be united until the planet disolve into pieces
But it was run by the Arabs.
@temax @celtic wisdom Spain as a nation emerges in 1812. It is historical nonsense to claim it existed before.
@parvulesco Can you support it? or just blablerish?
@hjprado @parvulesco Of course. Basically nationalism as an ideology -and subsequently nation as an idea-emerges with Fichte's Discourse to the German Nation in early 1800s. To talk about nations that existed before that can only be considered a nationalist discourse itself.
Spaniards started using the liberal idea of the nation when drafting the Cádiz Constitution in 1812.
Of course you can claim a historical genealogy to the idea of a Spanish nation, but you will find a lot of Spanish citizens that do not even share that.
Spain emerges as a unified state in 1714 after the annexation of the kingdoms of the Crown of Aragon by Castilla.
@parvulesco @hjprado Great answer, let's apply this to the nationalistic propaganda, as such. You will find a lot (more than 2 is already a lot) as you would find even more that do share the historical genealogy to the idea of a Spanish nation.
@parvulesco @hjprado You are, with all my respects, completely wrong. It's even sad to read your points from an adult perspective. The idea that nationalism is emerges with 1800 is an extended idea that does not reflect reality as you express it.In Spain, the best way to understand what happened on those lands is to actually go and read the manuscripts from that time. Already in the 5th century, and later on, you have people like Isidoro de Sevilla with what you could call a strong nationalism feeling. Just go and read.
The word "spaniards" in Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Valencian appeared in the XIII century from the Camino de Santiago. It was a loanword that inhabitants of Spain started to use to call themselves like that. When King Alfonso X in the XIII century translated Spain history books from earlier times, he translated Hispania to Spain and hispanos to Spaniards. During more than 300 years, in Spain you would alternatively use one or another.
Spain history is different from that of England, France or other European countries in the sense that its identity as a whole was interrupted by the invasion of arabs in 714 by Tariq. As a consequence of that, Spain followed the opposite process than normal European nations. Spain was not a nation-State, that is a nation that became a State, but a State-nation, a consolidated independent State in the VI century, that later on finally became wholy Spanish in the XV century, once the Catholic Kings reconquered Granada.What Spanish nationalism does not want to recognizes nowadays, and I give you that, is that that recovery was done from new existing internal identities. In the XV up to the XVIII, it was common in the Spain literature to talk about the Castilian nation or the Catalan nation. This "nation" word had a different meaning than the one you mean from 1800, but it had a strong belonging aspect still. But this word existed before 1800.To sum up, the Spanish nation became into being from other minor national identities at the time, those who wanted to recover the Spain state that the muslims took over 800 years before.In 1812, with the Constitution in Cadiz, is not like you said that, suddenly, from day to night, the Spanish nation appeared. No my friend, thats not true. History doesn't happen in one day, just like that.What happened is that in 1812, finally, that Spanish nation became adult and finally with a modern meaning, with a Constitution, like all other nations. It restructured to the new era, it grew up to abandon its childhood, but it already existed long before.The problem in Spain is that you cannot talk History with nationalists, whether they are Spain or Catalunya sided. The reality is that Spain, as a concept and as a State, existed from the Romans. Then it became an independent kingdom/state with the Visigoths. And it wasn't until the XIII century when all the new identities created agaisnt the invadors started to call themselves Spaniards, until Spain was reconquered in 1492. Thats the year that Spain as a state, and the Spanish nation, those two concepts, joined together, finally in a big hug. But this happened along with other identities that will coexist until today.In 1714 there was no annexation whatsoever. This is a propaganda paranoia from Catalan nationalists. Please, read history, because it is very sad to see people say crazy things like this. How can Spain annexionate something that it is already Spain?In 1714 there was a Civil War in SPain, and Aragon, like Catalunya, were in that war because they supported a Spanish king. Enough lies, please. Also, MAdrid and BArcelona fought together in that war. Also, this wat became an international war, were a lot of countries participated, once supporting the Bourbons and others supporting the Austrians. Again, please read history before talking.Unfortunately Catalan nationalism has made up history and people like you is just reproducing such fallacies. But remember, in 1714 there was the Succession War, and Catalunya and Aragon were parts of Spain.Best,
Ciutadans/Ciudadanos (they used to shorten their name to just C's to avoid the duplicate) is nothing new, as the article mentions. It can only be seen as something new only by people who has not been following anything about catalan politics, which is understandable. They are even relying on the same person who has been going on for almost a decade in Catalonia.
And them talking about democratic regeneration is a JOKE. They have themselves a political foundation in Madrid, as has been investigated, something all traditional political parties have to divert funds they can't officially have as political parties.
Even one of their former 3 deputies in Barcelona had to step down because he was involved in a fiscal evasion case. Is this what democratic regeneration should look like?
Ciudadanos is a party that has shifted from a leftist anti-catalan nationalism -yet catalan- party a few years ago into a right-wing dangerous party. Because they talk about something they do not represent. They even repeteadly refused to condemn franquism in the catalan parliament.
And, by the way, as soon as they released their new website, talks started about them removing catalan language from it. They said they had to rush with the website and promised to have catalan back in April. Oh my, just right after the regional elections in Andalusia, held on the 22th of March, which will be their first big test as a spanish political party. They basically want to hide their origins, and I wouldn't vote a couple guys who present themselves as democracy regenerationists but try to hide who they really are as much as they can.
Are some sort of neo-franquists who we want to go into a coalition in Spain? Oh, wait, we're already there with Partido Popular. That might make sense, but it's nothing new. I really hope this Ciudadanos crazy sh** goes away as fast as it has arised, because it's creeping me out. A lot.
@MarcelSanroma Neo-franquists? Please. We are in the XXIth century. We can talk about Neo-Catholic Kings but that is really a joke.
@MarcelSanroma Of courses is creeping you out. Anything that has to do with regeneration of the internal functioning of political parties is disliked by nationalists in Catalunya. Every time a catalan-born and catalan native speaker, like ALbert Rivera, comes out and say that they feel Spaniards and that they want a better country, catalan nationalist like you are cripped out.
Of course, because you nationalist don't understand the word freedom. Freedom for catalans to feel whatever the want.
Reality is, most catalans think like ALbert Ribera, and thats why he might be the one leader more voted in Catalunya in next elections. Catalans are tired of nationalism, of hatred, of making up history and always blaming the test of their country for their own miseries, a consequence of their own leaders, whose top one, by the way, Jordi Pujol, is being investigated and soon prosecuted for corruption. ANd he is still a member of CiU, a nationalist party that does not want regeneration, because that implies loosing its power of controling people.
Franco died 38 years ago. Albert Rivera was born 35 years ago in Democracy. You might not like his patriotism, you might hate all catalans that are also proud to be SPaniards like him, you might even hate that everybody likes him because he is really trying to change the country by reforms we need. But you are not entitled to just lash out on him with lies just because of that.Unfortunately, your style is the style of catalan nationalism, and finally all Europe is starting to understand it.Glad to see change in Catalunya and in Spain as a whole, beside all the nationalists that are getting anxious about it.We need change, we want change.
@MarcelSanroma Javier Nart, one of the big ones in the party "fought" against Franco during the dictatorship. What the hell are you talking about neo-franquists?
Finally there is a party in Spain that speaks clear about certain topic that looked cursed when it came to talk about them.
@MarcelSanroma you are a liar, man
What are you smoke? Bolivariam grass?
@MarcelSanroma To be a so called "writer" and a "journalist" I must say you have very bizarre and conflicting political and sociological concepts/ideas.
While it is true that 3 of their deputies had to step down due to issues with the IRS, only one has been proven, and is still working as a contractor for them, some of us are protesting about it.
They have never been a leftist party, nor a extreme right-winged party... get your facts right and read a bit politics to understand where is what... but you are right in one point they are anti-separatist, not only for the concept on it, but they are against the administration that has ruled in Catalonia for the past 30 years, where Mr. Puyol and his associates are accused and being investigated for their corruption charges, all of them done in the "Good name of Catalonia" can't add more...
Neo -franquists (Great new "word", like it) but not quite for C's, but more for PP, or you could use a more universal Neo-fascist, but this would not apply again... but keep trying
I'm really getting bored of this, my advices, please read and make sure your sources are reliable, I'm sure you learned this when you decided to be a "journalist"