Union, Progress and Democracy
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|Union, Progress and Democracy
Unión Progreso y Democracia
|Founded||29 September 2007|
|Headquarters||C/Montesa, 35, 3º, 28006, Madrid|
|Political position||Centre to Centre-left|
|European Parliament group||Non-Inscrits|
|Congress of Deputies|
Union, Progress and Democracy (Spanish: Unión Progreso y Democracia [uˈnjom pɾoˈɣɾeso i ðemoˈkɾaθja], UPD [upeˈðe] or officially UPyD [upeiˈðe]) is a Spanish political party founded in September 2007.
It is a social liberal party. UPyD rejects Basque and Catalan nationalism and wants to change the electoral law that, according to them, favours nationalist or regionalist parties from Spain's autonomous communities. Instead, it wants to strengthen the central government and the concept of a unitary Spanish nation.
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 for party co-founder Rosa Díez, thus 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, university professor Mikel Buesa, philosopher Carlos Martínez Gorriarán, and writer Álvaro Pombo.
By the end of 2008, UPyD claimed to have more than 9,000 registered members.
In the most recent general elections, held on 20 November 2011, the party won 1,140,242 votes (4.7%), becoming the fourth largest political force in the country, and achieving five seats in the Congress of Deputies  (four in Madrid and one in Valencia) being the party that experienced the greatest increase votes over the previous general election.
On 19 May 2007, 45 people met in San Sebastián with the aim of debating 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 have 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 citizen 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. The latter 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.
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 Diez).
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 would join the new grouping on the 6th of November 2007, as a member of its advisory council. Later on, writer Alvaro Pombo also expressed support for UPyD, and went on to run as a candidate for the party.
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.
They oppose any kind of nationalism; their opposition to the many different regional nationalist movements in Spain is well known. They argue that the Autonomous Communities system, one of the most decentralized in Europe, if not the most, has weakened the State's own powers such that individual rights can no longer be assured consistently throughout Spain due to sometimes greatly diverging regional laws. UPyD wants to regain prerogatives for the State over the regions. But similarly, they are also against nationalism at European level. They think the nation-state system is no longer valid, that´s why they want a European federation, based on citizenship, and not just as an international organization of nations. They 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, making the party probably best categorized as social liberalism.
Their main proposals include:
- Reform of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, being centred on three areas:
- 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. To this the elimination of the "historical rights" of certain independent communities is added.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 (in this regard, 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).
- 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, namely emphasizing the need to eliminate ETA, 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, correcting 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 for strengthening the European Union.
Shortly before the party's creation, on 13 of 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, to which they hope that citizens will 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, it won a seat in the general election of 2008, which was held by Rosa Diez, the party's national spokesperson. 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 Labayen was elected to represent Alava.
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 that assembly. In the 2011 local elections, the party won seats in cities such as Madrid, Burgos, Avila, Granada, Alicante, and Murcia.
In the 2011 general election, UPyD received the fourth largest number of votes, polling 1,143,225 (4.70%). They won five seats, four of them in Madrid; Rosa Díez, Carlos Martínez Gorriarán, Álvaro Anchuelo, and Irene Lozano, and one more for Valencia Province, the actor Toni Cantó.
A party co-founder, Mikel Buesa, denounced the authoritarian control he claimed that a group of persons in the party had attempted to impose. Later, 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". By early 2010 the party had lost 40% of its membership in Catalonia, considering the political party to be a fraud.
|2008||Spanish general election||306,078||1.19||1||Rosa Díez González|
|2009||European Parliament election||449,499||2.81||1||Francisco Sosa Wagner|
|2011||Spanish local elections||465,162||2.06||152||–|
|2011||Spanish general election||1,140,242||4.69||5||Rosa Díez González|
In the 2009 European election the UPyD was the third most voted for party in 32 provincial capitals.
|2009||Basque parliamentary election||22,002||2.14||1||Gorka Maneiro Labayen|
|2009||Galician parliamentary election||23,445||1.45||–||Andrés Wenceslao Mosquera|
|2010||Catalonian parliamentary election||5,293||0.17||–||Antonio Robles Almeida|
|2011||Elections to the Aragonese Corts||15,625||2.30||–||Cristina Andreu|
|2011||Elections to the Balearic Parliament||8,722||2.08||–||Juan Luis Calbarro|
|2011||Elections to the Canarian Parliament||9,069||1.00||–||José Luis García-Morera|
|2011||Elections to the Cantabrian Parliament||5,835||1.72||–||Román San Emeterio|
|2011||Elections to the Corts of Castile and León||47,045||3.40||–||Félix Sánchez Montesinos|
|2011||Elections to the Corts of Castile-La Mancha||20,554||1.78||–||Luis Orgaz|
|2011||Elections to the Extremaduran Assembly||7,026||1.06||–||Maria Luisa García-Borruel|
|2011||Elections to the Madrid Assembly||189,055||6.32||8||Luis de Velasco Rami|
|2011||Elections to the Murcian Assembly||29,236||4.50||–||Rafael Sánchez|
|2011||Elections to the Navarrese Parliament||2,212||0.69||–||Miguel Zarranz|
|2011||Elections to the Riojan Parliament||5,891||3.56||–||Alfredo Rodríguez|
|2011||Elections to the Corts of Valencia||60,734||2.44||–||Rafael Soriano|
|2012||Andalusian parliamentary election||129,180||3.35||–||Martín de la Herrán|
|2012||Asturian Council election||18,739||3.75||1||Ignacio Prendes|
|2012||Basque parliamentary election||21.492||1.94||1||Gorka Maneiro Labayen|
|2012||Galician parliamentary election||21.212||1.48||-||José Canedo Santos|
|2012||Catalonian parliamentary election||14.552||0.40||-||Ramón de Veciana Batlle|
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