Spain's political newcomers determined to overturn 'caste system'

Spain's political newcomers determined to overturn 'caste system'
By Adrian Lancashire
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Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’), is one of Spain’s new parties that emerged from crisis. The second-largest group in Catalonia’s regional parliament after


Ciudadanos (‘Citizens’), is one of Spain’s new parties that emerged from crisis. The second-largest group in Catalonia’s regional parliament after the 27th September elections is forecast to place third or even second in the national poll on 20th December.

Ciudadanos leader and candidate Albert Rivera founded the party in 2006, based on liberal economic principles and defending the unity of Spain against regional nationalism, and a wish to move on from traditional bipartisanism.

The party’s slogan “Ilusión” represents hope, its aim is to be done with the system of governance that post-Franco Spain has come to know.

Rivera, running to be prime minister, addressed supporters at a rally: “We don’t want a pact with [the conservative] Rajoy or [the Socialist] Sanchez. We want to beat them, and that’s very different. There is a conservative-socialist pact to pretend that we are all either red or blue, in order to maintain an obsolete party-ocracy, a pact to conceal corruption.”

Rivera’s supporters like the sound of this novel promise of real reform.

One said: “I’m 63, and this is new. We really welcome it.”

And another: “I think Albert Rivera will be the next prime minister. I support him because I believe a change is really needed, especially in Catalonia, and I believe his proposals are innovative and completely viable.”

Catalonia is one of the regions that is key to winning the legislative elections because of its large population. Heading the Ciudadanos list in Tarragona is Sergio del Campo, speaking for Spaniards who have been hit hard by austerity.

Del Campo‪ named his priorities: “Above all, to strengthen the basic pillars of a democracy of rights, which are public health, education and pensions.”

Our correspondent Francisco Fuentes said: “While the Citizens’ message gets good traction in Catalonia, another ambitious new political party has already been at work in Andalusia, governing in several important town halls.”

Unemployment in Andalusia, at 37%, is the EU’s highest; youth unemployment is double that. This region also has a large population and so is a key campaign battleground, so we talked to Journalist Noelia Vera, head of the list ‘Podemos’ in Cadiz province, who handles communication.

Vera said: “We propose five guarantees. Obviously, the first is to reinforce social rights, the second to reinforce the fight against corruption. Justice, this has to be independent of the political parties taking turns in government. We also think the diversity of the peoples of Spain must be respected, and there needs to be a better democracy and transparency.”

Podemos (‘We Can’), ranks fourth in voter intention polls. It grew out of the young Indignados 15M movement.

One Andaluz we talked to said: “I think we need change in this country. We’ve had enough of what we’ve gone through in the last few years, especially young people like me. We’re also waiting to be given our chance.”

Charismatic Podemos leader Pablo Iglesias is a political science professor at Complutense University in Madrid and a former member of the European Parliament. He claims to represent the true left, rebelling against the political caste system.

Iglesias, also a candidate to be Spain’s prime minister, told a rally: “When I talk to everyone wondering how to vote, to those who haven’t decided, I ask them to think about those people. The time has surely come to be done with the hard-nosed cheats and thieves who go into politics as a way to stuff their pockets, to get rich. We need educated, dignified people who don’t make promises but who offer guarantees.”

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