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Citizens-Party of the Citizenry

Citizens – Party of the Citizenry
Ciudadanos - Partido de la Ciudadanía
President Albert Rivera
Secretary-General Matías Alonso Ruiz
Founded June 7, 2005
(CC)
March 4, 2006
(C's)
Headquarters Plaça Urquinaona, 6 10º A
08010 Barcelona
Ideology Anti-nationalism[1][2]
Federalism,[3]
Social liberalism,[4]
International affiliation None
European affiliation None
European Parliament group Currently no MEPs
Colours Orange and White
Parliament of Catalonia
Local Government
Politics of Spain
Political parties
Elections

The Citizens – Party of the Citizenry (Spanish: Ciudadanos – Partido de la Ciudadanía, official name used nationwide; Catalan: Ciutadans – Partit de la Ciutadania, used co-officially with former in Catalonia; short acronym C's) is a Spanish political party which describes itself as centre-left and anti-nationalist. It is almost exclusively active in Catalonia, where it has nine deputies in the Catalan Parliament. It is fervently opposed to Catalan independence. 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.

History

Ciutadans was formed in Catalonia in July 2006 in response to the call made in a manifesto by a group of Catalan personalities (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, postulated as an homogenous entity, has taken occupation of the space where an undeniably diverse society lives".[5]

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 organized several round tables and conferences and by 2006 they had announced the formation of a new political party, called simply Ciutadans, or Citizens. In the first congress of 2006, a young lawyer from Barcelona, Albert Rivera, was elected its president.

In the Catalan elections of 2012, the party gained 7.6% of the vote (274,925 votes) and won nine seats in the Catalan Parliament; all but one of them were elected in the Province of Barcelona.

Program and ideological background

C's is mostly considered liberal party both in economic policies and social issues party, however its political discurse is mainly centered around opposition to Catalan nationalism,[1][2] to the extent that it has been frequently criticised for being a single issue party, a label rejected by its members.

One of the main issues raised by the party is the Catalan language policy, which actively promotes the use of Catalan language as the only working language of the Catalonian public administration [6] [7] The party challenges this policy and defends equal treatment of Spanish and Catalan.[7] It also opposes the language policy within the Catalan school system, according to which all public education is carried out in Catalan trying to preserve the Catalan language.

The party also supports strengthening the powers of the Spanish central institutions and curtailing the powers of regional administrations.[8]

Other topics include a thorough reform of the Spanish electoral system in the sense of a greater proportionality that would give less weight single constituencies, which benefits bipartisanship at national level and peripheral nationalism at regional elections. They also support some changes in the Spanish constitution, especially regarding the regional organization. Among other policies, they propose the complete abolition of the fiscal autonomy for the Basque Country.[9] They also support a regulation of prostitution, marijuana and euthanasia.

Support, membership and organization

C's is a political force only at the regional level. In the national elections of 2008, it gained only 0.18% of the Spanish votes: in Catalonia, its support was somewhat higher - 0.74% of votes - but significantly smaller compared to the percentages obtained in the Catalan regional elections of 2006 (3.04%) and 2010 (3.4%).

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.

Controversies

During the election campaign of 2006, the party's president Albert Rivera appeared completely naked in a poster in order to attract publicity to the party.[10][11]

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 elections with the Citizen's Party[12] However, Rivera denied having been a full member of the party, and only admitted having participated in some of the actions of the youth section of the party.

Relations to 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 time to present its views on public television.[13] They have also criticized 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 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

In 2009 it was announced that C's would run for the European election allied with Libertas coalition.

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 fact has alienated the other two MPs (besides Rivera himself) and a significant part of the party from his leadership.[14] In turn, the official stance of C's is that the critics are acting more as a fifth column of the ideologically close Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD),[15] all resulting in a major crisis within the party.

Several intellectuals that had participated in the formation of Ciutadans, later withdrew their support from C's. 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.

Other

Although the party was created in Catalonia as "a response to Catalan nationalism", additional branches have sprung up in the rest of Spain, although without much success.

Prominent meetings of the party have been reportedly picketed by Catalan independentist groups on several occasions[16] while its leader Albert Rivera has received anonymous death threats urging him to quit politics.[17][18][19][20]

See also

Languages of Catalonia

Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD)

External links

  • Ciutadans - Partido de la Ciutadania's web site
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