Ciutadans [EN]

Traducció: Liz Castro 

Article original: Jordi Borràs

With short, easily-digestible sound bites, repeated ad infinitum by air, land, and sea—that is, with the inestimable help of the big communication media outlets—the Ciutadans party has managed to enter the homes of every Spaniard. First, through their television sets, and finally at the top of every political poll that has been and will be taken. It is the final step to assaulting the State from above, with the blessing of the powers that be and of identity populism. Ciutadans is the perfect example of a compromise between two forms of the right wing: one that has become obsolete because of its incompetence and its disgusting corruption and the new one, purportedly unstained but much more dangerous than the first. From the Partido Popular to Ciutadans, this is the Spain of change that awaits us.

Those of us who live in Catalonia know full well that Ciutadans is no new party. We have suffered from its demagoguery for twelve years, since 2006 when the party formed under the leadership of a young Albert Rivera who categorically denied having ever been a member of any other party. This was a lie that unraveled when El Periódico revealed that Rivera had been a dues-paying member of the PP during the four years prior and up to three months before taking the helm of the orange party. A fact that today is more than proven and of which there is the certificate of membership of the PP then led by José María Aznar and presided over by a such a pedigreed former Franco minister as Manuel Fraga Iribarne. Despite all that, this has never been a problem for Albert Rivera's party. In the same way that none of the other scandals that this organization have protagonized have hurt them a bit, at least apparently.

No need to dig up any ancient files, just last week there were two cases of Ciutadans activists, caught red-handed preaching “seny” [a Catalan word for calm wisdom] in the streets of Catalonia. The first took place in Tarragona where Eva Sagardoy, a Senate candidate for Cs in the December 2015 elections, was taped on video ripping down posters of the Committees for the Defense of the Republic (CDR), accompanied by a neo-Nazi. Not a garden variety fascist, but an individual who has the emblem of one of the most dangerous gangs of skinhead nazis tattooed on his hand: the Hammerskins, a USA-based gang that was declared illegal in the Spanish State in 2009. A similar event occurred a few days later in Girona, when the news came out—Oh, surprise!—that under the black hoodies of the vandals who ripped down, box cutter in hand, a monument in homage to the political prisoners, there was yet another ex-candidate to the Spanish Senate for Ciutadans, this time in the 2008 elections. The “ciutadana” Esmeralda Úbeda was one of the people identified by the local Girona police after destroying the “totem poles of dignity” installed by the local chapter of the Catalan National Assembly. But there was not a single statement in public, no resignations, no TV opening its news programs with the corresponding video of these two individuals practicing the calm wisdom to which they give so much lip service.

Last Sunday we watched gaping as the daily El Mundo printed a poisonous report, full of lies and false accusations, on nine school teachers at the El Palau de Sant Andreu de la Barca high school, accusing them of singling out the children of Guardia Civil agents after the police charges during the October 1st referendum. Nine more teachers—I've lost count already—accused unjustly and marked by the prosecutor, the media and by the leader of Ciutadans, Albert Rivera. The former disciple of the PP was quick to spew hatred against those teachers, blithely ignoring any presumption of innocence while he accused them of hate crimes, and also took advantage — oh my! — to criticize the “cowardly” Spanish government for not acting more decisively beyond opening an investigation. The effect was quick and clear: the following day the façade of the high school was covered with graffiti containing the first and last names of the instructors, accusing them of being “rats, Nazis, and separatists” in their place of employment.
Hold on tight, because that is what Ciutadans is. Fast-food identity populism in designer packaging. It's the ideal marketing campaign for the new Spanish right: loaded with hate, resentment and a thirst for vengeance. This is a party that is capable of passing the PP on the right and accusing it of being soft. An organization chock full of links to the extreme right that not only do not hurt its image, or so it seems, but reinforce it. That must be why the editor of a Madrid daily wrote, “Above truth there is the unity of Spain.”

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