Union, Progress and Democracy

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Union, Progress and Democracy
Unión, Progreso y Democracia
Spokesperson Rosa Díez
Founded 26 September 2007 (2007-09-26)
Headquarters C/ Cedaceros, 11, 2º H, 28014, Madrid
Think tank Progress and Democracy Foundation
Membership 6,165 (2013)[1]
Ideology Progressivism[2][3]
Social liberalism[4][5]
European federalism[14][15]
Spanish patriotism[16]
Political position Centre[5][18][19][20][21][22]
International affiliation None
European affiliation None
European Parliament group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Colours Magenta
Congress of Deputies
5 / 350
Spanish Senate
0 / 266
Regional Parliaments
10 / 1,268
European Parliament
4 / 54
Local Government (2011)
152 / 68,286
Politics of Spain
Political parties

Union, Progress and Democracy[24][25][26][27][28][29][30][31] (Spanish: Unión, Progreso y Democracia[32][33][34][35][note 1] [uˈnjon pɾoˈɣɾeso i ðemoˈkɾaθja], official abbreviation UPyD [upeiˈðe], occasionally referred to as UPD [upeˈðe]) is a Spanish political party founded in September 2007.

It is a social liberal party[4] that rejects peripheral nationalism in all its forms including the separatist Basque and Catalan movements.[37] It proposes substituting the current electoral law for a more proportional one.[38] The party believes in a more centralised Spanish state, and wants Spain to adopt a system of symmetric federalism,[39] centralizing the competences which concern about citizens' fundamental rights such as education, health and justice because it considers that the "State of Autonomies" is "elephantine", politically "unviable" and economically "unsustainable".[5][40] The party also wants a federal system for Europe, without duplicities between the functions of the European government, the national one and the regional one.[41] Mikel Buesa at a party presentation in 2007 and Irene Lozano in a television interview in 2013 have explained the meaning of the 3 concepts which make up party's name: Union because of their defence of "the unity of Spain", Progress because of their belief in "progressivism" as an ideology and Democracy because they declare themselves "radical democrats".[42][43][44][45]

UPyD first stood for election in the 2008 general election, held on 9 March. It received 303,246 votes, or 1.2% of the national total, and one seat in the Congress of Deputies[46] for party co-founder Rosa Díez, becoming the newest party with national representation in Spain.

UPyD's core is in the Basque Autonomous Community, with roots in anti-ETA civic associations, yet it addresses a Spain-wide audience. Prominent members of the party include philosopher Fernando Savater, party founder and former PSOE MEP Rosa Díez, philosopher Carlos Martínez Gorriarán, and writer Álvaro Pombo.

At its Second Party Congress in November 2013, UPyD reported 6165 registered members, down from an all-time high of 6634 in 2011.[1] In 2009, UPyD founded the think tank "Fundación Progreso y Democracia" (FPyD: Progress and Democracy Foundation) which has since been presided over by the party's spokesperson, Rosa Díez.[47]

In the most recent general elections, held on 20 November 2011, the party won 1,143,225 votes (4.70%), winning five seats in the Congress of Deputies[48] (four in Madrid and one in Valencia) and becoming the fourth largest political force in the country. It was also the party that experienced the greatest increase of votes compared to the previous general election.[49]


Álvaro Pombo (left) with Fernando Savater at a meeting of Union, Progress and Democracy.

On 19 May 2007, 45 people met in San Sebastián to debate the necessity and possibility of creating a new political party that would oppose both the main parties at national level, the People's Party (PP) and the PSOE. At the meeting, most of those present were Basques, many of whom had long experience in political, union, and civic organizations, in many cases coming from a background of left-wing politics, but also from liberal and civic backgrounds. After that meeting, in order to create a broadly based social and political project, the first step was to create an association, Plataforma Pro, which united those who considered it necessary to form a new political party at national level, whose aim would be to put forward new political proposals of interest to people from across the democratic political spectrum. The initial motives established were:

  • The fight against ETA and any type of politically motivated violence.
  • Regeneration of Spanish democracy.
  • Opposition to nationalism or regionalism.
  • The reform of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 to reinforce civil liberties and equality, independent of the regional origins of each citizen.

Among the members or supporters of Plataforma Pro were the philosopher Fernando Savater, the spokesman of ¡Basta Ya!, Carlos Martínez Gorriarán (who was the coordinator of the same group), and the former PSOE MEP Rosa Díez. Díez later resigned from PSOE membership and her position as MEP in August 2007 in order to become involved with the UPyD project.

Other groups that showed their support for the Platform included the association Citizens of Catalonia, most notably Albert Boadella, Arcadi Espada, and Xavier Pericay, as well as the association ¡Basta Ya!, which had been a major influence on the new movement.

Teresa Giménez Barbat, member of Council of UPyD in Catalonia and president of Citizens of Catalonia.

In September 2007, the then-president of the Forum Ermua, Mikel Buesa, announced their intention to participate in the political party arising from the Plataforma Pro (later on, he resigned in 2009 due to disagreements with Rosa Díez).

Finally, at a public meeting on 29 September 2007, in the Auditorium of the Casa de Campo in Madrid, the new party, Union, Progress and Democracy, was formed. Those involved in the formation of the new party included the Catalan dramatist Albert Boadella, the Basque philosopher Fernando Savater, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, and Rosa Díez. Also present were journalist Arcadi Espada, anthropologists Teresa Giménez Barbat and Felix Perez Romera (three prominent members of Citizens of Catalonia), historian Antonio Elorza, painter Agustín Ibarrola, the ex-leader of the Forum Ermua Mikel Buesa, philosopher Carlos Martínez Gorriarán, the deputies of Citizens Albert Rivera and Antonio Robles, Peruvian writer Fernando Iwasaki, former Secretary General of the UGT Nicolas Redondo, and Basque MP of the People's Party Fernando Maura. Maura subsequently joined the new grouping on 6 November 2007, as a member of its advisory council. Later on, writer Álvaro Pombo also expressed support for UPyD, and went on to run as a candidate for the party.


Ideologically, UPyD does not define itself as either left or right. UPyD prefers to define itself as a progressive party, beyond other ideological labels.

Rosa Díez in a party meeting.

As they describe themselves in the opening paragraphs of their initial manifesto:

We begin with a revolutionary assumption: that citizens are not born being either left wing or right wing nor with the card of any party in their nappies. We go further, at the risk of offending the timid: we consider citizens able to think for themselves and as a result, to choose, in accordance with the policies of the political parties and their knowledge of the historical situation in which we live. Therefore we do not think that anybody is forced to vote the same way or to resign themselves to the existing political options, when they have already previously disappointed them. To be considered right wing or left wing does not seem to us to be the main problem, although we sincerely pity those that lack better arguments to counter their opponents ... In order to avoid this false dichotomy, we preferred to speak of progressivism instead of left or right

[citation needed]

The party argues that the Spanish Autonomous Communities system, one of the most decentralized in Europe,[50] has weakened the State's own powers to the extent that individual rights can no longer be assured consistently throughout Spain due to different regional laws. Similarly, they are also against nationalism at European level. The party argues that the nation-state system is no longer valid, and therefore believe in a federal Europe of citizens, not of nations.

The party is included in what has come to be called in Spanish as transversalismo (transversalism), known in English as Left–right. It is a cross-sectional party, that tries to include concepts and ideas of both political axes.

Their main proposals include:

  • Reform of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, being centered on three areas:
    1. Conclusion of the autonomic model, clearly defining the functions and responsibilities of both the central state and the autonomous communities, making clear which functions are non-delegable to the Autonomous Communities or Municipalities. They also add the elimination of the "historical rights" of certain communities.
    2. Improvement and individual reinforcement of rights and obligations, defining them as strictly equal for all the citizens of the country, without territorial, linguistic, ideological, or religious inequalities.
    3. Improvement of the separation of powers, reinforcing the autonomy of the judicial power with respect to the executive and the legislative, consolidating the unity of the judicial system in all the country, looking for ways to guarantee the independence and professionalism of the Courts, and regulating economic institutions, eliminating their dependence on the executive authority.
Peruvian-Spanish Nobel prize Mario Vargas Llosa and Catalan dramaturg Albert Boadella participating in the foundation ceremony.
  • Enforcing secularism.
  • Reforming the electoral law, reviewing the electoral districts and the distribution of seats, which in their opinion is biased towards the two largest national parties (PP and PSOE) on the one side, and regionalists on the other (for example, if the Spanish general election of 2008 would have been held on a single national constituency, rather than using the current province-based constituencies system (fifty provinces plus Ceuta and Melilla), UPyD would have obtained 4 MPs instead of 1[51]).
  • Reinforcing and promoting the quality of public education, promoting secularism, fighting fanaticism, promoting scientific research, and defending by law the possibility of being able to study in Spanish throughout Spain, as well as its prevalence as the common language of individuals; although recognising, protecting, and using the languages used in some regions to guarantee bilingualism where it exists.
  • Measures of democratic regeneration, that make citizens closer to their political representatives. For example, the possibility of introducing an electoral system of open lists, the direct election of individual positions (autonomic and national heads of government, mayorships), limitation of mandates, and incompatibilities between the exercise of public office and private businesses. As well as measures that prevent coalitions that distort electoral results, and a more transparent financing of political parties and improving their independence of economic institutions.
  • Reinforcing of anti-terrorist measures, emphasizing the need to eliminate ETA by fighting their acts of violence, prosecuting their financing, and preventing their political and ideological justification.
  • Economic and social measures that promote the development and the competitiveness of the Spanish economy and that correct inequalities.
  • Regarding immigration, UPyD argues that, instead of favoring cultural relativism, which could open ground to religious fundamentalism among others, the State has a role to spread a set of secular and civic values common for all the population, regardless of their origin. In Foreign Affairs, UPyD advocates strengthening the European Union.


Shortly before the party's creation, on 13 December 2007 UPyD held a press conference headed by Rosa Díez, Mikel Buesa, and Fernando Savater in which it denounced "evidently unequal" treatment it received on the part of Spanish banks, which had denied the UPyD loans and recalled the debts of the other political parties with the banks, in addition to the great pardons made to these groups in the last few years. In this context, they explained, UPyD's activity was currently being funded thanks to membership fees and small donations, but they recognized that the party "could not continue this way" nor contest an election with such resources. For that reason, the leadership decided to start a funding system of personal loans, in the hope that citizens would commit themselves. This system consisted of selling personal loans to the value of 200, 500, and 1000 euros to fund the party's electoral campaign for the 2008 general elections after the refusal of financial institutions to bankroll the party. These bonds, which were to be issued to the total of somewhere between three to five million euros, could be purchased in the party offices, via the Internet, and via a free phone number. In addition, the party stated they would report the amount of the loans obtained and the state of its accounts. The party intends to return the money to citizens after the elections, thanks to the institutional funding received by parties with parliamentary representation.


Shortly after the party's foundation, the party's national spokesperson, Rosa Díez, won a seat in the general election of 2008. She was elected in Madrid Province with 3.74% of the vote. Other prominent candidates were the writer Álvaro Pombo for the Senate and Carlos Martínez Gorriarán, both of whom failed to win seats.

In 2009, the party gained representation in two other elections, the European Parliamentary election, and the Basque Regional Elections. Their MEP, Francisco Sosa Wagner, sat in the non-aligned group in the European parliament. In the Basque elections, Gorka Maneiro was elected to represent Álava.

In 2011, Luis de Velasco Rami and 7 other UPyD members were elected to the Madrid Assembly, with UPyD becoming the fourth largest party. In the 2011 local elections, the party won seats in cities such as Madrid, Burgos, Ávila, Granada, Alicante and Murcia.

In the 2011 general election, UPyD received the fourth largest number of votes, polling 1,143,225 (4.70%). Of the five seats the party won, four of them were in Madrid, won by Rosa Díez, Carlos Martínez Gorriarán, Álvaro Anchuelo and Irene Lozano. Another candidate was elected in Valencia Province, the actor Toni Cantó.

In the 2014 European Parliament Elections Francisco Sosa Wagner was reelected and UPyD won three extra seats for Maite Pagazaurtundua, Fernando Maura and Beatriz Becerra, consolidating their support in all Spain. The party's MEPs are set to join the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) Group.[52]


In July 2009, party co-founder Mikel Buesa announced his resignation from UPyD denouncing the "authoritarian control" he claimed a group of persons in the party had attempted to impose.[53] Following the First Party Congress in November 2009, one hundred UPyD critics (among whom were four founders) left the party. They felt "tired and disappointed" with the "authoritarian" Rosa Díez and "lack of internal democracy".[54] By early 2010 the party had lost 40% of its membership in Catalonia,[55] considering the political party to be a fraud.[56]

Popular support and electoral results[edit]

Congress of Deputies[edit]

Election year Party Congress of Deputies Result
# of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
2008 UPyD 306,079 1.19 (#6)
1 / 350
New in opposition
2011 UPyD 1,143,225 4.70 (#4)
5 / 350
Increase 4 in opposition

European Parliament[edit]

Election year Party European Parliament
# of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
2009 UPyD 451,866 2.85 (#5)
1 / 54
2014 UPyD 1,022,232 6.50 (#5)
4 / 54

Local councils[edit]

Election year Party Local councils
# of
overall votes
 % of
overall vote
# of
overall seats won
2011 UPyD 464,824 2.06 (#5)
152 / 68,230

See also[edit]

Citizens – Party of the Citizenry (C's)

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ The party name is often written or stylized as Unión Progreso y Democracia, without respecting the grammatical rules.[36]


  1. ^ a b "UPyD alcanzó su cuota máxima de afiliación en 2011 con más de 6.600 miembros (spanish)". Europa Press. 1 November 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2014. 
  2. ^ Buck, Tobias (25 February 2014), "Spain's Popular party challenged by newcomers", Financial Times, retrieved 28 May 2014 
  3. ^ Could a pair of minority groups spell the end of Spain's two-party system? - El País
  4. ^ a b c "Parties and Elections in Europe, "Spain", The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck". Parties & Elections. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d UPyD. Ideology: centralism, social liberalism. Political Position: Centre- European Social Survey
  6. ^ Dorange 2013, p. 100«Partido españolista republicano, nacional y laico»
  7. ^ "Savater: "La educación es la única vía posible para salir de la crisis actual"". Laicismo.org. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Vidal & Jiménez Losantos 2012«cualquier acuerdo con UPyD, la única fuerza reformista española»
  9. ^ Azagra Ros & Romero González 2012, p. 120«más el radical-centrismo de UPyD»
  10. ^ (Spanish)«La abigarrada diversidad de nuestro ALDE nos revela no sólo la convivencia de nacionalistas de distinto signo, sino también de formaciones de ascendencia radical, como UPyD» - Simón Alegre (political scientist)
  11. ^ (Spanish)"Somos un partido radical y profundamente institucional, hay que transformar la política a fondo y de fondo desde las instituciones" - UPyD
  12. ^ «and a centralist and centrist party had emerged: UPyD» - Spanish Journal of Sociological Research
  13. ^ It’s two years ago today when Mariano Rajoy led the Partido Popular to an overall majority - Typically Spanish
  14. ^ The party is the most pro-European in Spain, and supports a federal Europe, which it sees as an important guarantor of individual rights - Demsoc Europe
  15. ^ "UPyD apuesta por "una unión política federal para Europa"". elcomercio.es. Retrieved 7 June 2014. 
  16. ^ (French)Un parti centriste irrite les grands partis - Le Temps
  17. ^ PNV takes first ETA-free elections - El País
  18. ^ Mallet, Victor (16 April 2011). "Centrist politician woos disenchanted Spaniards". Financial Times. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  19. ^ "How much is enough?". The Economist. 6 November 2008. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  20. ^ Cantalou, Julie (17 June 2013), The Spanish slump – political crisis and the need for institutional reform, Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, retrieved 28 May 2014 
  21. ^ Diez Challenging Spanish Politics, Voice of America, 27 May 2013, retrieved 28 May 2014 
  22. ^ Toni Cantó: "UPyD es un partido de centro, pero no es tan sencillo" – Periodista Digital (Spanish)
  23. ^ Resultados provisionales- Eleccions Municiaples 2011, Ministry of the Interior, retrieved 29 May 2011
  24. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica 2014, p. 488«and Union, Progress and Democracy (UPD, 7.7%) on the centre-right»
  25. ^ Cabestan & Pavković 2013, p. 116.
  26. ^ Ugarriza & Caluwaerts 2014, p. 68.
  27. ^ Bel i Queralt 2012, p. XVII.
  28. ^ Field & Botti 2013, p. 10.
  29. ^ International Business Publications 2012, p. 49.
  30. ^ Ross, Richardson & Sangrador-Vegas 2013, p. 77.
  31. ^ Ştefuriuc 2013, p. XII.
  32. ^ Unión, Progreso y Democracia - Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
  33. ^ Unión, Progreso y Democracia - European Parlament
  34. ^ (Spanish)Grupo municipal Unión, Progreso y Democracia - Burgos City Council
  35. ^ [1] - UPyD
  36. ^ Organización y Estatutos (PDF), UPyD party statutes as of November 2013, including denomination (Spanish)
  37. ^ Henderson, Karen; Sitter, Nick (2008), "Political Developments in the EU Member States", The JCMS Annual Review of the European Union in 2007 (Wiley): 196 
  38. ^ "browser – TPL_WARP_OUTDATEDBROWSER_PAGE_TITLE". sevillaactualidad.com. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  39. ^ (Spanish)«El federalismo de UPyD es simétrico porque todos los españoles somos iguales» - UPyD
  40. ^ (Spanish)Díez: "Tenemos un modelo de Estado elefantiásico, inviable e insostenible" - Libertad Digital
  41. ^ "12 propuestas de UPyD | Europa federal". cadavotovale.es. Retrieved 5 April 2014. 
  42. ^ (Spanish)Mikel Buesa explicó el significado de la denominación del partido, "Unión porque somos un partido contra la disgregación política de la última legislatura y abogamos por la unión de España sin condiciones, Progreso porque somos un partido progresista de raíz liberal y socialdemócrata y, por otra parte, respetamos la libertad individual y de elección y Democracia porque es el sistema que alberga todas las identidades, podemos ser lo que queramos y lo podemos expresar libremente"Blog Aires de La Parra, across UPyD
  43. ^ (Spanish)La economía hace aguas por todos los lados, se ha aumentado la presión fiscal en un 2 % del PIBUPyD
  44. ^ (Spanish)Entrevista a Irene Lozano en La Noche en 24 horas (from 16 minute)RTVE
  45. ^ (Spanish)"Unión: defendemos la unidad de España. Progreso: somos progresistas y Democracia: somos demócratas radicales"Official UPyD's Twitter
  46. ^ 2008 Cortes Generales Election Results. Ministerio del Interior. 10 March 2008. Last Retrieved 10 April 2008. (Spanish)
  47. ^ Presentación (Spanish), Fundación Progreso y Democracia website, Retrieved 6 April 2014
  48. ^ Gobierno de España (20 November 2011). "Resultados de UPyD en las Elecciones Generales de 2011". Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  49. ^ "El llamativo ascenso de UPyD, región a región". La Voz Libre. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 21 November 2011. 
  50. ^ "Catalonians vote for more autonomy". CNN. June 18, 2006. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  51. ^ "Noticias de España en ELPAÍS.com". Elpais.com. Retrieved 18 June 2010. 
  52. ^ "UPyD anuncia su integración en ALDE, que respetará la integridad territorial - Sabado". elconfidencial.com. 7 June 2014. Retrieved 28 June 2014. 
  53. ^ "Mikel Buesa, fundador de UPyD, deja el partido por su 'autoritarismo'". El Mundo. 4 July 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  54. ^ "Un centenar de críticos de UPyD abandonan el partidoSe confiensan "cansados y decepcionados" con el "autoritarismo" de Rosa Díez y por la "falta de democracia interna"". Público. 12 December 2009. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  55. ^ "Problemas para Rosa Díez – Un reguero de bajas deja tocada a UPyD en Cataluña en año electoral". El Semanal Digital. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
  56. ^ "Un grupo de militantes catalanes de UPyD abandona el partidoCritican a Rosa Díez por "asfixiarles" y consideran que ha sido un "enorme fraude político"". Público. 21 January 2010. 


External links[edit]