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Union, Progress and Democracy
Unión Progreso y Democracia
Spokesperson Rosa Díez
Founded September 29, 2007 (2007-09-29)
Headquarters Avenida de Viñuelas nº23, 1ºA, 28760, Tres Cantos, Madrid
Ideology Centralism,
Progressivism,
Social liberalism,
Laicism
International affiliation None
European affiliation None
European Parliament Group Non-Inscrits
Official colours Magenta
Website
www.upyd.es
Politics of Spain
Political parties
Elections

Union, Progress and Democracy (Spanish: Unión Progreso y Democracia, UPD or officially UPyD) is a Spanish political party founded in September 2007.

UPyD contested for the first time in an election for the 2008 general election, held on 9 March. It received 303,246 votes, or 1.2% of the national total and one seat in the Congress of Deputies.[1] for party co-founder Rosa Díez, thus becoming the newest party with national representation in Spain.

The leading core of this political party comes from the Basque Autonomous Community, with roots in the anti-ETA civic associations, yet it addresses a Spain-wide audience. Philosopher Fernando Savater, was one of the main promoters of the party. Other important promoters included Rosa Díez (formerly a leading figure in the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, PSOE), university professor Mikel Buesa, philosopher Carlos Martínez Gorriarán or writer Álvaro Pombo.

By the end of 2008, UPyD claimed to have more than 9,000 registered members.[2]

Contents

Origins

On Saturday 19 May 2007, 45 people met in San Sebastián with the aim of debating the necessity and possibility of creating a new political party that would oppose both the main parties at national level: the People's Party (PP) and the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE). At the meeting, most of those present were Basques, many of whom have long experience in political, union and civic organizations, in many cases coming from a background of left-wing politics, but also from liberal and civic backgrounds. After that meeting,to create a broadly based social and political project,

The first step was to create an association, Plataforma Pro, which united those who considered necessary to form a new political party at national level, for all Spaniards, whose aim would be to put forward new political proposals of interest to people from across the democratic political spectrum. The initial motives quoted were:

  • The fight against ETA and any type of politically motivated violence;
  • Regeneration of Spanish democracy;
  • Opposition to compulsory nationalism (referring to the peripheral nationalist and regionalist movements);
  • The reform of the Spanish Constitution of 1978 to reinforce citizen liberties and equality, independent of the regional origins of each citizen.

Among the members or supporters of Plataforma Pro were the philosopher Fernando Savater, the spokesman of ¡Basta Ya!, Carlos Martínez Gorriarán (who was the coordinator of the same group) and the former socialist MEP Rosa Díez. The latter resigned from PSOE membership and her position as MEP in August 2007 in order to become involved with the UPyD project.

Other groups that showed their support for the Platform included the association Citizens of Catalonia, most notably Albert Boadella, Arcadi Espada and Xavier Pericay, and the association ¡Basta Ya! which had been a major influence on the new movement.

In September 2007, the then president of the Forum Ermua Mikel Buesa announced their intention to participate in the political party arising from the Plataforma Pro (later on, he resigned in 2009 due to discrepancies with Rosa Diez).

Finally, at a public meeting on the 29th of September 2007 in the Auditorium of the Casa de Campo of Madrid the new party, Union Progress and Democracy, was formed. Those involved in the formation of the new party included the Catalan dramatist Albert Boadella, the Basque philosopher Fernando Savater, the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa and Rosa Díez. Also present were the journalist Arcadi Espada, the anthropologist Teresa Giménez Barbat and the anthropologist Felix Perez Romera (the three prominent members of Citizens of Catalonia), the historian Antonio Elorza, painter Agustín Ibarrola and the ex-leader of the Forum of Ermua Mikel Buesa, the philosopher Carlos Martínez Gorriarán, the deputies of Citizens Albert Rivera and Antonio Robles, the Peruvian writer Fernando Iwasaki, the former Secretary General of The UGT Nicolas Redondo and the Basque MP of the People's Party Fernando Maura. The latter joined the new grouping on the 6th of November 2007, forming part of its advisory council. Later on, writer Alvaro Pombo also expressed support for UPyD and went to run a candidature for this party.

Ideology

Ideologically, UPD does not define itself as either left or right. UPyD prefers to define itself as a progressive party, beyond other ideological labels.

As they declare themselves in the opening paragraphs of their initial manifesto:

We begin with a revolutionary assumption: that citizens are not born being either left wing or right wing nor with the card of any party in their nappies. We go further, at the risk of offending the timid: we consider citizens able to think for themselves and as a result, to choose, in accordance with the policies of the political parties and their knowledge of the historical situation in which we live. Therefore we do not think that anybody is forced to vote the same way or to resign themselves to the effective political options, when they have already previously disappointed them. To be considered right wing or left wing does not seem to us to be the main problem, although we sincerely pity those that lack better arguments to counter their opponents (...) In order to avoid this false dichotomy, we preferred to speak of progressivism instead of left or right.

Their main ideological focus, however, is their opposition to the many different regional nationalist movements in Spain. They argue that the Autonomous Communities system, one of the most decentralized in Europe[3], if not the most, has emptied the State's own competences in a way that individual rights can no longer be assured consistently throughout Spain due to sometimes greatly diverging regional laws. UPyD stresses the idea of Spain as a nation-state, and its unity as such, regaining prerogatives for the State in front regions.

The party is included in which it has come to be called in Spain as transversalism, it is a cross-sectional party, a party that tries to include concepts and ideas of both political axes, making the party probably best categorized as social liberalism.

Their main proposals include:

  • 1, Reform of the Spanish Constitution of 1978, being centred in three scopes:
    • a) Conclusion of the autonomic model, clearly defining the functions and responsibilities of both the central state and the autonomous communities, making clear which functions are non delegable to the Autonomous Communities or Municipalities. To this the elimination of the "historical rights" of certain independent communities is added.
    • b) Improvement and individual reinforcement of rights and obligations, defining them as strictly equal for all the citizens of the country, without territorial, linguistic, ideological or religious inequalities.
    • c) Improvement of the separation of powers, reinforcing the autonomy of the judicial power with respect to the executive and the legislative, consolidating the unity of the judicial system in all the country, and looking for ways to guarantee the independence and professionalism of the Courts and Regulating Organs of economic character, eliminating their dependence on the executive authority.
Rosa Díez in a party meeting in Móstoles
  • 2. Enforcing Secularism.
  • 3. Reforming the electoral law, reviewing the electoral districts and the distribution of seats, that in their opinion is biased towards the two largest national parties (PP, PSOE) on the one side and the regional nationalists on the other (in this regard, if the Spanish general election of 2008 would have been held on a single national constituency, rather than using the current province-based constituencies system (fifty provinces plus Ceuta and Melilla), UPyD would have obtained 4 MPs instead of 1[4]).
  • 4. Reinforcing and promoting the quality of public education, promoting secularism, fighting fanaticism, and promoting scientific research as well as defending by law the possibility of being able to study in Spanish throughout Spain, and its prevalence as the common language of individuals; although recognising, protecting and using the languages used in some regions to guarantee bilingualism where it exists.
  • 5. Measures of democratic regeneration, that make citizens closer to their political representatives, for example the possibility of introducing an electoral system of open lists, the direct election of the main individual positions (autonomic and national heads of government, mayorship), limitation of mandates, and incompatibilities between the exercise of public office and private businesses. As well as measures that prevent coalitions that distort electoral results, and a more transparent financing of political parties and improving their independence of the great economic powers.
  • 6. Reinforcing of anti terrorist mesures, namely emphasizing the need to eliminate ETA, fighting their acts of violence, prosecuting their financing and preventing their political and ideological justification.
  • 7. Economic and social measures, that promote the development and the competitiveness of the Spanish economy, correcting inequalities.
  • 8. Regarding immigration, UPyD argues that, instead of favoring cultural relativism, which could open ground to religious fundamentalism among others, the State has a role to spread a set of secular and civic values common for all the population, regardless of their origin.In Foreign Affairs, UPyD advocates for strengthening the European Union.

Funding

Shortly before the party's creation, on 13 of December 2007 UPyD gave a press conference headed by Rosa Díez, Mikel Buesa and Fernando Savater in who it denounced the treatment of "evident inequality" received on the part of the Spanish banks denying the asked for credits to them and remembered the debts of the other political parties with the banks, in addition to the great pardons made to these formations in the last years. In this context, they explained that until that moment UPyD's activity was funded thanks to membership fees and small donations but they recognized that the party "could not continue this way" and face with these resources an electoral campaign. For that reason, the leadership decided to start a funding system of personal loans, to which they hope that citizens will commit themselves. This system consists in selling personal loans by the value of 200, 500 and 1000 euros to fund the party's electoral campaign for the 2008 general elections after the refusal received from large financial organizations to grant them credit. These bonds, of which one first expandable emission of three million euros to five million was be made, could be purchased in the party offices, via the Internet and via a free phone number. In addition, the party committed to report the amount of the loans obtained and the state of its accounts. The party intends to return the money to the citizens after the elections, thanks to the institutional funding received by parties with parliamentary representation.

Electoral performances

Date
Elections
Votes
%
Seats
Names
2008 Spanish general election 306,078 1.19 1 Rosa Díez
2008 Andalusian parliamentary election 27,261 0.61 - -
2009 Basque parliamentary election 22,002 2.14 1 Gorka Maneiro Labayen
2009 Galician parliamentary election 23,445 1.45 - -
2009 European Parliament election 449,499 2.81 1 Francisco Sosa Wagner

While minoritary, the party is in expansion, as shown by the fact that, just two years after the party's creation, by the 2009 European election it had become the third most voted in 32 capitals of province[5] (out of fifty provinces). Besides, it was the only Spanish party which increased its net votes turnout when compared to the 2008 Spanish general election.

References

External links

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