It is generally assumed that the Mediterranean countries do not have a strong liberal, democratic strand to their politics. Indeed, the two members of the ALDE (Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) Group in the European Parliament are the nationalist parties of two Regions, Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya (Catalonia) and Partido Nacionalista Vasco (the Basque Country).
However, there are liberal democrats in Spanish politics, awaiting discovery by the European liberal family, and the failure to engage with them has been to the advantage of the nationalists. Ironically, they represent the only nationalist parties within ALDE.
Why ironically? ALDE should end such a contradiction, because nationalism travels in the opposite direction to the universalism of liberal democracy. Indeed, the leader of the ALDE group in the European Parliament, Guy Verhofstadt, has described nationalism as being ‘the ruin of Europe’. And yet the ALDE website includes Catalonia as though it were an independent country, an insult to those Catalans who do not support an independent Catalonia. What is more, the nationalists campaign for preferential fiscal treatment, running contrary to ALDE policy which calls for greater fiscal integration across Europe.
Nationalism is egotistical in all its variants, so there is no reason to include such political parties in ALDE, especially when Spain’s fourth largest political party, a genuinely liberal, democratic force in the nation’s politics, is excluded by the presence of those nationalists.
That party is Union, Progress and Democracy (UPyD), a party that fights for a third way in Spain, for federalism in Europe, against egoism and nationalism of the States, that puts the citizen and his personal development at the centre of its political programme. I hope to see Spanish liberal democrats working together with ALDE soon for a better Europe, a more united Europe.
Rubén Arbaizar is a law student at the University of Valladolid, Spain, and a member of UPyD (Union, Progress, and Democracy).