Citizens (Spanish political party)
|Secretary-General||Matías Alonso Ruiz|
|Founded||7 June 2005 (CC)
4 March 2006 (C's)
|Headquarters||Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 751 A, 1º 2ª
|Youth wing||Agrupación de Jóvenes de Ciudadanos – J's|
|Political position||Centre-left to Centre-right|
|European Parliament group||Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe|
|Politics of Spain
Politics of Catalonia
Citizens (Spanish: Ciudadanos [θjuðaˈðanos]; Catalan: Ciutadans [sjutəˈðans]; shortened as C's) is a political party in Spain which described itself as centre-left and non-nationalist shortly after its inception, though it has often been described as centre-right and mildly supportive of traditional Spanish civic nationalism. The party presents itself as offering a mix of liberalism and social democracy on its platform. Its official positions are a mix of socially liberal policies and economic liberalism.
It is mainly active in Catalonia, where it has nine deputies in the Parliament of Catalonia. It aims to the defend the use of Spanish and opposes Catalan nationalism. The leader of the party uses the phrase: "Catalonia is my homeland, Spain is my country and the European Union is our future" to outline the party's ideology.
- 1 History
- 2 Policies
- 3 Political background
- 4 Support, membership and organisation
- 5 Controversies
- 6 Election results
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 External links
Ciutadans was formed in Catalonia in July 2006 in response to the call made in a manifesto by a group of well-known figures in Catalonian civic society (among them Albert Boadella, Félix de Azúa and Arcadi Espada), in which they called for a new political force to "address the real problems faced by the general public". In this manifesto, they also warned that "the rhetoric of hatred promulgated by official Catalan government media against everything 'Spanish' is more alarming than ever" and that "the (Catalan) nation, promoted as an homogenous entity, has taken over the space where an undeniably diverse society lived".
This group of personalities, almost entirely based in Barcelona, formed a political platform called Ciutadans de Catalunya, or Citizens of Catalonia, in July 2005. They organised several round tables and conferences and by 2006 they had announced the formation of a new political party, called simply Ciutadans, or Citizens. In their first conference of 2006, a young lawyer from Barcelona, Albert Rivera, was elected president.
In the 2006 Elections for the Parliament of Catalonia, C’s won 3% of the votes and returned 3 MPs. Four years later, in 2010, a similar result was achieved (3.4%, 3 MPs). Mainly as a counter to the growing public support for independence in Catalonia, C’s – as one of the most outspoken opponents of this movement - has since further grown substantially in support. In the 2012 snap elections the number of votes more than doubled (7.6%, 9 MPs). All but one of these seats were in the Province of Barcelona. As of March 2015 almost all surveys predict a further growth in the upcoming 2015 Catalan Elections and opinion polls even showed them to be the third largest party.
In 2013, the party started organising in the rest of Spain with a manifesto called "La conjura de Goya" (The Confederacy of Goya) that took place in the Congress Palace of Madrid.
The C's have outlined some policies for the Spanish general election, 2015. So far, these include the following.
- Lowering corporation tax to 25%, inline with many other European countries.
- Lower and harmonise VAT to a rate between 16% and 19%.
- Capping the top-rate of income tax at 40%.
- Increase R&D spending to 3% of GDP.
- Abolish or merge municipalities with a population less than 5,000.
- Reducing bureaucracy and red tape.
- More transparent party funding.
- Crackdown on corruption.
- Reform or abolish the Spanish Senate.
- Earned income tax credit to fight in-work poverty.
- "Austrian Backpack" transferable unemployment compensation.[clarification needed]
- Devolving training to the citizens from employers associations and trade unions, known to have misused formation funds.
- Easing immigration policies to attract talent and investors.
- Legalizing prostitution and marijuana.
C's is mostly considered a liberal party both in economic policies[clarification needed] and social issues, however its political discourse is mainly centered around opposition to Catalan nationalism, to the extent that it has been frequently criticised for being a single issue party, a label rejected by its members. In the period 2006-2012, the number of C's voters who had voted for centre-right parties in previous elections was similar to the number who had previously voted for centre-left parties, suggesting that the party's positions on general economic and social issues are not its main draw. C's criticise any sort of nationalism, "including the Spanish nationalism that Mr. Ynestrillas defends".
One of the main issues raised by the party is the Catalan language policy, which actively promotes the use of Catalan language as the sole working language of Catalonian public administration. The party challenges this policy and defends equal treatment of the Spanish and Catalan languages. It also opposes the current language policy within the Catalonian educational system, in accordance with which all public schooling is delivered in Catalan. The party also supports strengthening the powers of the Spanish central institutions and curtailing the powers of regional administrations.
Other topics include a thorough reform of the Spanish electoral system with the aim of creating greater proportionality that would give less weight to single constituencies. They also support some changes in the Spanish constitution, especially regarding regional organisation. Regarding the chartered autonomous communities' tax regimes, the party respects and does not want to remove the Basque Country's and Navarre's chartered regimes because it believes that "they aren't discriminatory in and of themselves"; however, it criticises what it calls the miscalculation of the quota or contribution which is negotiated between governments and has been causing significant differences that have become outrageous". It proposes a review and a recalculation of the Basque Quota and the Navarrese Contribution in order to stop the Basque Country and Navarre being "net beneficiaries".
Support, membership and organisation
C's is currently only a political force at regional level. In the 2008 National Elections, it gained 0.18% of the Spanish vote: in Catalonia, its support was somewhat higher – 0.74% of votes – but significantly smaller than the percentage obtained in the 2006 and 2010 Catalan Regional Elections; (3.04%) and (3.4%) respectively.
C's draws most of its support from the Barcelona metropolitan area. In the 2010 regional elections, the party gained more than 4% in the counties (comarques) of Barcelonès, Baix Llobregat, Vallès Occidental and Tarragonès. Everywhere else, it remained under 4%, with the worst results in the provinces of Girona (1.69%) and Lleida (1.79%). Only in the Province of Barcelona did C's receive more than 3% of the vote, which is the threshold for parliamentary representation.
C's has been identified as having a populist platform, e.g. by Catalan nationalists such as the expert on far-right movements, Xavier Casals. In spite of its efforts to identify its core ideology as progressive, its campaign videos feature notorious right-leaning socialites, journalists and television personalities. One of these is known for having voiced extremely xenophobic views as well as displayed sexist and violent behaviour on television. More recently, another member was expelled after allegedly making xenophobic and anti-Catalan comments on Twitter.
In January 2014, the Catalan Supreme Court of Justice (es) (TSJC) probed C's Parliament member Jordi Cañas on account of fraud amounting to €429,203. Cañas abandoned his party spokesman position  and announced he would resign his seat in the Parliament if he were formally indicted.
In 2006, the newspaper El Periódico de Catalunya revealed that Rivera was a member of the conservative People's Party (PP) between 2002 and 2006, and that he had quit PP just three months before running for election for the Citizen's Party; this was corroborated by El Mundo and El País Despite these revelations, however, Rivera still denied having been a full member of the party  Past PP membership is by no means a minor affair in C's; former PSC activist Juan Carlos Girauta, who left the Socialists for a stint in PP and a prolonged commitment (1000+ articles) to conservative journalism from his Libertad Digital column up until his very public falling out with César Vidal, became a Citizens member and a candidate in the 2014 European Election.
The party's association with Declan Ganley's Libertas platform raised some concern on account of the coalition formed by the latter with nationalist and ultra-nationalist parties in each of its local European chapters, seemingly at odds with the professed ideology of C's.
Relations with the media
The party frequently complains about an alleged boycott on the part of Catalan media, especially public television: in their opinion, the party is given too little airtime to present its views on public television. They have also criticised the Catalan press for similar reasons, especially the Spanish-language Catalan newspapers La Vanguardia and El Periódico de Catalunya. On the other hand, its opponents and critics[who?] frequently point out the disproportionately high coverage of Ciutadans by the Spanish national media, especially the Madrid-based Libertad Digital, El Mundo, Telemadrid, and ABC.
European election internal disputes
According to some members of C's, the negotiations prior to this electoral pact were led personally and secretly by the party leader, Albert Rivera. This alienated the other two MPs (besides Rivera himself) and a significant part of the party from his leadership. In turn, the official stance of C's is that the critics are acting more as a fifth column of the ideologically similar Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), all resulting in a major crisis within the party.
Several intellectuals that had participated in the formation of Ciutadans later withdrew their support. Albert Boadella, for example, became one of the co-founders of the Union, Progress and Democracy party led by former Basque Socialist politician Rosa Diez.
Prominent meetings of the party have been reportedly picketed by Catalan seperatist groups on several occasions. Its leader Albert Rivera has received anonymous death threats urging him to quit politics. Two members of the ERC Youth were sentenced to prison for it.
Congress of Deputies
|Congress of Deputies|
|2008||Albert Rivera||13th||46,313||0.2||No seats|
1 Within Libertas Spain.
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- O'Leary, Elisabeth (8 February 2015). "Spain's Podemos leads poll but may have peaked - El Pais". Reuters. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
Ciudadanos (Citizens), social democrats who defend national unity and have drawn voters on the left and right disenchanted with corruption in politics, saw a 4 percentage point rise to 12.2 percent
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Ciutadans – Partido de la Ciudadanía (C's): social liberalism, centralism
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- (Spanish) Directo de los resultados de las elecciones catalanas 2012 - Público
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El incremento se produjo a costa del PSC, donde en algunos de sus tradicionales «feudos» su electorado optó por votar a Ciutadans como opción «españolista» y de centro-izquierda más adecuada para no votar a su otra opción, el Partido Popular, más alejada ideológicamente de sus postulados.
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