Is Ciudadanos a hope for Spain?
By Alberto Mingardi
With the UK and Spain going to the ballot box in the next few months, European politics is certainly more than Greece, at the moment. We know that the polls are rather foggy about England, but Spanish politics risks becoming very “lively,” too. Spain is a member of the Eurozone and has a strong, emerging extreme leftist party, Podemos. So, the way in which the Greek story is moving may have a very strong influence on what happens in Spain, too.
It appears that after the next election Spain will switch from a two party system to a four party system, as Vincenzo Scarpetta argues here. The fourth party (after the Christian Democrats, the Socialists, and the extreme left Podemos) is called Ciudadanos (“Citizens”) and portrays itself as a “centrist” party, aiming at (of course) the “democratic regeneration” of Spain. Ciudadanos has its roots in Catalonia, but strongly opposed its attempts to secede from the Madrid government.
When you read about Ciudadanos in the international press, they’re often portrayed as the “free market” twin brother of Podemos: a much better, more fiscally responsible alternative for Spanish voters that are fed up with the two major parties.
Juan Ramon Rallo, of the Institudo Juan de Mariana, offers some caveats in a very interesting piece (in Spanish). He considers Ciudadanos basically another social-democratic party. However, Rallo thinks they may nonetheless be
good news for classical liberals in the short term; not because their program (at least for what we know as of now) suggests any pro-Liberal enthusiasm, but because at least represents a threat–and an alternative–to the illiberal degeneration promoted by the political caste. [please forgive my very imperfect translation]