Citizens (Spanish political party)

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Abbreviation C's
President Albert Rivera
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
08013 Barcelona
Youth wing Group of Young Citizens – J's
Membership  (2015) Increase 25,290[1]
Ideology Liberalism[2][3]
Political position Centre[5][9][10][11][12]
European affiliation Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
European Parliament group Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe
Colours      Orange[13]
Congress of Deputies
32 / 350
3 / 266
European Parliament
4 / 54
Regional Parliaments
100 / 1,248
Local Government
1,527 / 67,611

Citizens (Spanish: Ciudadanos [θjuðaˈðanos]; Catalan: Ciutadans [siwtəˈðans]; Basque: Hiritarrak; Galician: Cidadáns; shortened as C's), officially Citizens–Party of the Citizenry,[14] is a liberal[2] political party in Spain which is described by itself as centre-left and postnationalist.[15][16] Citizens presents itself as a party which offers a mix of social democracy and liberal-progressive positions on its platform.[17]

It was founded in Catalonia, in whose Parliament it has 25 deputies. It opposes Catalan nationalism.[clarification needed] The leader of the party uses the phrase: "Catalonia is my homeland, Spain is my country and Europe is our future" to outline the party's ideology.


Citizens brands itself as a centre-left party in its statement of principles (ideario).[15] Some observers agree with the party and describe it as centre-left,[18][19][20][21][22][23] while others disagree and have described it as centre-right.[24][25][26][27][28][29]

Official stance[edit]

Ideologically, C's describes itself as progressive,[30] secular, constitutionalist,[30] European federalist and postnationalist.[16] Ciudadanos has been associated with autonomism in the sense of opposing the current status of the Autonomous communities of Spain defending their existence but with less powers devolved from the central government, while also opposing separatist movements such as the Catalan independence movement[31][32][33] and opposing unifying ones such as European federalism.[34] Although reconsidering the current head of state is not a priority for the party, Albert Rivera has said that Citizens is "a republican party which claims that Spanish citizens are who have to decide whether they prefer a once-modernized monarchy or a republic through a referendum in the context of a constitutional reform".[35][36][37]

According to its declared identity signs, C's advocates four basic lines of action:

  1. Defense of individual rights.
  2. Defense of social rights as well as the welfare state.
  3. Uphold the State of Autonomies and Europe's unity.[clarification needed]
  4. Regeneration of democracy and of political life.[clarification needed]

Specific policies[edit]

Citizens Headquarters in Barcelona, Spain.

The C's have outlined some policies for the 2015 general election:

  • Lowering corporation tax to 25%, in line with many other European countries.[38]
  • 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 Senate.[39]
  • 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.

Main tenets[edit]

Albert Rivera, president of the party

C's is mostly considered a liberal party both in economic policies[clarification needed] and social issues[citation needed], however its political discourse is mainly centered around opposition to Catalan nationalism,[40] 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 voted for centre-left parties, suggesting that the party's positions on general economic and social issues are not its main draw.[41] C's criticise any sort of nationalism, "including the Spanish nationalism that Mr. Ynestrillas defends".[42]

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.[43][44] The party challenges this policy and defends equal treatment of the Spanish and Catalan languages.[44] 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.[45]

Other topics include a thorough reform of the electoral system with the aim of creating greater proportionality that would give less weight to single constituencies. They also support some changes in the 1978 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".[46] It proposes a review and a recalculation of the Basque Quota[clarification needed] and the Navarrese Contribution[clarification needed] in order to stop the Basque Country and Navarre being "net beneficiaries".[47]

Among other policies, they also support a regulation[clarification needed] of prostitution, marijuana and euthanasia.

Prominent meetings of the party have been reportedly picketed by Catalan separatist groups on several occasions.[48] 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.[49][50][51][52][53]

Alternative views and past membership[edit]

Xavier Casals - an expert on far-right movements - has described C's platform as populist.[54][55] And another expert in far-right movements, investigative journalist ca:Jordi Borràs, characterized C's as a "great magnet for the extreme right"—a trait, he alleged, they share with People's Party.[56] Although C's identifies its core ideology as progressive, its campaign videos feature notorious right-leaning socialites, journalists and television personalities such as Carlos Navarro,[57] who is known for having voiced extremely xenophobic views[58] as well as having displayed sexist and violent behaviour[59][60][61][62] on television. More recently, another member was expelled after allegedly making xenophobic and anti-Catalan comments on Twitter.[63]

In 2006, the newspaper El Periódico de Catalunya revealed that Rivera was a card-carrying member of the conservative People's Party (PP) between 2002 and 2006, and that he had left the PP only three months before running for election for the Citizen's Party; this was corroborated by El Mundo and El País.[64][65] Despite these revelations, Rivera denied having been a full member of PP and implied that he had voted for the PSOE until recently.[66] Past PP membership is common among C's members. Former PSC activist Juan Carlos Girauta had joined the PP[67] and became a prolific contributor to conservative journalism from his Libertad Digital column,[68] before becoming a Citizens member and candidate in the 2014 European Election.[69] During his long tenure as Libertad Digital columnist and COPE debater, Girauta expressed strong sympathies for right-wing Zionism (to the point of calling then-president Zapatero an anti-Semite[70]) and lent credibility [71][72] to the now discredited book by Victor Farías [73] dismissing Socialist politician Salvador Allende as a racist and a Social Darwinist, without clarifying that the quotations about genetic determinism in Allende's doctoral dissertation were themselves quotations from other authors (mostly Cesare Lombroso) or the fact that Allende was highly critical of these conclusions in his thesis, which was later published [74] as a rebuttal to Farías' position. Farías was later sued for this[75] but Girauta never retracted his statements.

In 2015, a member of the Citizens electoral list for Gijón to the city council and regional elections posted pro-falangist, pro-Blue Division and pro-Hitler Youth messages on Facebook.[76] Those same elections carried news of at least five other former card-carrying Falange and/or España 2000 members.[77]


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".[78]

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 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 three 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. In March 2015 almost all surveys predicted further growth in the 2015 Catalan elections and opinion polls 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.

In the 2014 European elections the party received 3.16% of the national vote, and elected two MEPs.[79] Both MEPs joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) group.

The party was accepted into the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party on 4 June 2016.[80]

Relations with the media[edit]

During the 2006 election campaign, the party's president Albert Rivera appeared completely naked in a poster in order to attract publicity to the party.[81][82]

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.[83] 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.[citation needed]

European election internal dispute[edit]

In 2009 it was announced that C's would run for the European Election allied with the Libertas coalition. 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.[84][85][86]

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 (UPyD) party led by former Basque Socialist politician Rosa Díez.

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.[87] In turn, the official stance of C's is that the critics are using the dispute as a pretext to canvass support for the ideologically similar UPyD.[88]

Corruption allegations[edit]

In January 2014, the Catalan Supreme Court of Justice (es) (TSJC) probed Parliament member Jordi Cañas on account of fraud amounting to €429,203 when he wasn't a party member (this happened in 2005).[89] Cañas abandoned his position as party spokesman and resigned his seat in April 2014.[90][91][92]

Electoral performance[edit]

Cortes Generales[edit]

Election Leader Votes  % # Seats Outcome
Congress Senate
2008 Albert Rivera 46,313 0.18 #13
0 / 350
0 / 208
PSOE minority
2015 3,514,528 13.94 #4
40 / 350
0 / 208
New election
2016 3,141,570 13.06 #4
32 / 350
0 / 208

European Parliament[edit]

Election Candidate Votes  % # Seats
2009 Miguel Durán 22,903 0.14 #11
0 / 54
2014 Javier Nart 497,146 3.16 #8
2 / 54


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  90. ^
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  92. ^ El diputado de C's Jordi Cañas renunciará a su escaño si es acusado de fraude fiscal - lainformació


External links[edit]