Friday, 7 March 2008

A Reflection on Convergència i Unió

Convergència i Unió (CiU) is the right-wing party of Catalonia, but it is also the modern, right-wing political force which the whole of Spain so desperately needs. In the European Parliament, CiU belongs to the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (where, from a Swedish perspective, we also find Folkpartiet and Centerpartiet). Their appeal is broad since, in fact, they are a federation of two parties.

# Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (CDC) is the bigger party. It was founded, among others, by Jordi Pujol as a union of different groups of Catalan nationalists, but is now a liberal party. Its leader, Artur Mas, heads up CiU’s activities within the Parliament of Catalonia.
# Unió Democràtica de Catalunya (UDC), has a longer history and forms part of the Christian Democratic political tradition. This is the smaller party and, more importantly for the coming elections, where top candidate Duran i Lleida belongs.

During the coming years, the whole of Spain will have to face up to a number of challenges. It is true that we have had very strong economic growth during Zapatero’s four years as prime minister, but now we are following the rest of the world into a recession. That is when the lost competitiveness of Spanish companies, the high inflation and the unemployment bomb which threatens to explode among construction workers will demand urgent attention.

To ride through that turbulence, I am convinced that a PSOE government will benefit from gaining CiU’s support, rather than to have to depend on parties to their left. CiU’s program suggests measures to make the Spanish economy more dynamic, in order to create wealth and job opportunities. We find proposals to make the labour market less rigid through a "flexicurity" system as well as concrete plans for improving infrastructure (by road, by air as well as by railway). For long term success, they stress the need of quality education and investments to support innovation driven business development.

CiU counts on strong support from big industry as well as from SMEs and self-employed people. As opposed to PP, however, their program does not scare away typically non-conservative voters (feminists, gays etc.). The only right-wing people who will not feel at home within their framework are Spanish nationalist but, let us be realistic, this is Catalonia. While CiU manages to describe and defend the society I nowadays live in, PP does not. CiU are Catalan nationalists, that is a fact, but that does not disqualify them from serving as a source of inspiration for the rest of Spain.

A bonus with CiU is that Carles Campuzano from Vilanova i la Geltrú is the fourth name on their list for Barcelona, and since they currently holds six of the seats for this province, he is likely to be a member of the new parliament. That makes him the only representative of our town, something we have learnt to appreciate after the transport chaos which we went through last autumn. Possibly, Campuzano will not manage to make the other politicians respect Vilanova, but I promise to be content as long as he continues to do a good job for society as a whole.


Anna Malaga said...

Do you mean that CiU is less conservative than PP? When you say "stress the need of quality education", do tou mean that we need good private schools or that all education should be better?

Erik Wirdheim said...


CiU is less conservative than PP. Although you might hear Duran i Lleida talk about Catholic family values, CiU in total would not do so (remember that there 2 factions of the party).

Regarding your comment on education, I have to admit that CiU does not have anything against private schools. Personally, I think that it is obvious that a country can not substantially improve the general level of knowledge unless public schools are included. But for CiU I will have to doublecheck with their program befor I answer.