One month ahead of the ALDE Congress in Madrid, Liberal Eyes held an exclusive interview with the leader of ALDE Party member Ciudadanos, Albert Rivera.
Mr. Rivera, what are the core values that Ciudadanos stand for?
Ciudadanos represents the centrist, liberal and progressive domain within the Spanish political spectrum. Ciudadanos is guided by values such as freedom, equality and union among Spaniards and Europeans, defending the market economy, openness, open society as well as having a strong pro-European, reformist and regenerative vocation.
Your party was founded in 2006 and while it initially operated only in Catalonia, you have significantly expanded throughout Spain in the most recent years, being currently the fourth force in the Spanish Parliament. What has been the reason of your success?
I think the key is that Spanish society and the world in general have changed, and the old parties no longer serve to satisfy the demands and problems of a large number of citizens. Our party was born out of a platform created in civil society to face Catalan nationalism (something that neither the conservatives nor socialists were doing), it grew a lot, and became the first force in Catalonia, and jumped to a national level three years ago with a reformist and regenerative project that overcame the old labels "left" and "right", defended equality and union among Spaniards and showed a relentless strength against corruption. These continue to be our flags and more and more citizens are supporting us. In just a few years, we have managed to place ourselves in a technical tie with PP and PSOE, who have been governing the country's institutions for over 40 years.
You’ve been the President of Ciudadanos since its creation. How have you seen the party evolve in these years?
The most comforting thing has been to see how more and more people from civil society joined. Ciudadanos was born out of the civil society, it is not a classical party, and it keeps enriching from civil society as we have our doors open permanently to talent. It is a luxury to count with people like Luis Garicano, Inés Arrimadas, Toni Roldán... People who succeeded in their professions and decided to join Ciudadanos in order to change and improve their country. Ciudadanos has changed a lot since its birth, because it was an anti-nationalist platform that only existed in a region and now is one of the main parties in Spain, but many essences remain and it has been very rewarding being a witness of its expansion and success. But we do not settle for that, the objective is to govern Spain to improve it, modernise it and transform it.
Coinciding with your growth in Spain, Ciudadanos joined the ALDE Party in 2016. What was your party’s motivation to become a part of the European liberal family?
Ciudadanos is perfectly aligned with and tuned to the European liberal and democrat family. We share values, programmes, ideas, priorities. Besides, to us it is very important to work along with our European partners, because strengthening the European project is the key for our project to triumph.
What’s the Europe you dream of?
A Europe without borders, united, that tackles its problems in a joint and coordinated way, a Europe that teams up in order to compete as one actor in a global world and where nationalism and populism are definitively defeated. I hope that in the future we can talk about the "United States of Europe" where freedom will be imposed on authoritarian tendencies, equality on supremacism and solidarity on selfishness.
Ciudadanos will run in next year’s European elections for the third time. However, this time the polls seem to have more ambitious goals for your party. What are Ciudadanos’ plans for the European elections and why do they matter to you?
We will try to win the next European elections. The previous ones were for us a success for the mere fact of getting representation in the European Parliament, but now all the polls are placing us in a technical draw with PSOE and PP, and in some cases even above them. In addition, we aim to form a great alliance with liberal forces from all over Europe in order to overcome the old parties for the first time.