On December 21st of last year, a non-secessionist party won Catalan regional elections for the first time. It was Ciudadanos (C’s), whose candidate were Inés Arrimadas. The party wants Catalonia to remain both in Spain and in the European Union.
Leaving aside the secessionist conflict in that North Eastern region of Spain, the party is growing according to latest polls, so far as it’s expected to win in a legislative (general) election.
C’s voting base are mainly former People’s Party voters that are disappointed with Mariano Rajoy’s lack of severity on Catalan conflict and continuous tax raises, apart from some socialists that does not follow Pedro Sánchez’s radicalism.
What exactly about the party?
On March 4, 2006, it was released in Barcelona as a spin-off of Ciutadans de Catalunya, a civic platform created one year before by a group of Catalan intellectuals opposed to Catalan nationalism. In 2007, the statutes written by one of them, Francesc de Carreras, stressed that “Ciudadanos ideology is inspired in progressive liberalism and democratic socialism”.
Their origins were deepen in Catalonia, where their former success was basically for its courage against Catalan illiberal nationalism. 7 years later, its leader, Albert Rivera decided that the party ought to join national politics. That began with Citizen Movement platform. By the way, it has nowadays 2 European MPs, 1527 town councilman, 104 regional MPs, 32 deputies and 3 senators.
On December 2016, the liberal and progressive Alliance of Liberals and Democrats of Europe accepted C’s application to join that group. Luis Garicano, their Economic Affairs advisor is vice president of that European party. Besides, at the beginning of 2017 they changed their statutes to define themselves as a “pro-Constitution, liberal [(classical liberal or libertarian in the European sense)], democrat and progressive”.
Do they really want “less State and more market”?
Similar to their French idol Emmanuel Macron (Rivera shows himself as the “Spanish Macron” and claims his party is the option for Spanish libertarians), they are not real fiscal conservatives. Macron has raised corporate tax and plans to do the same with trucks and diesel, apart from his plans against “fake news”.
Reading Rivera’s economic program, in spite of non-disgusting proposals like “undefined labor contract” and Austrian model of compensation by firing, there are many interventionist proposals such as, for example more public policies for employment coordinated by a new entity, programs for long-term unemployed people, rise of spending per pupil, increasing of incomes, etc.
Among them there is also the so-called salary complement for those workers that earn less than others. According to the party, it is something similar to Friedman’s negative income tax. However, from my standpoint that is such a “moderate” version of universal basic income proposed by parties like far-leftist from PODEMOS.
They would also create a constitutional section about “Social Rights”. Among them, we can find rights to health, social services, housing, environmental protection and access to public services. Besides they are in favor of a Law of Social Rights Budgetary Guarantee. All that is a set of new reasons to raise taxes if necessary and waste more, apart from coerce third people.
Ways to guarantee freedom to choose education and health services are not something which C’s has come up with. Neither tax credits nor vouchers. Whatsmore, they do not believe in a free education, totally uncontrolled by the state, apart from not defending the right to study in the language you choose (Spanish, English, …). C’s also supports illiberal Sexual Orientation and Gender Ideology laws.
By the way, some people think they are the best Spanish politicians at the time of fighting for free trade. He defended an eloquent case for CETA at Spanish Congress. But, though, it is important to take into account that “bilateral trade agreements” aren’t good policies of trade liberalization as in that CETA and TTIP vow on harmonizing regulations and engaging in crony capitalism.
Notwithstanding the risk of being considered protectionist just by opposing those treaties is important to warn that C’s has a passionate Europhilia. Albert Rivera defends the United States of Europe and Arrimadas compared Brexit with Catalan secession. Deeper integration is supported by that party. EU “statu quo” is interventionist and protectionist.
Having said that, we can ascertain Ciudadanos is part of the progressive and social democratic consensus. A hypothetical triumph of them would not change anything in a parliament where economic libertarianism is absent. C’s is not classical liberal, but leftist -it is just more moderate than Socialist Party and PODEMOS.