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  The meaning of Ciudadanos
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Last EditedIndyGeorgia  Dec 11, 2015 11:13pm
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AuthorJeremy Cliffe
News DateFriday, December 11, 2015 05:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionMADRID — The queue only starts to grow at 10 p.m. This is Madrid, after all. An hour later it winds around the block; a collage of grays, browns and blacks (the city’s winter wardrobe) with splashes — ties, scarves and balloons — of Ciudadanos orange. And what a jumble of types: from old ladies in Barbour jackets to biker chicks, men in tracksuits and students bundled up against the cold. “Like PP and PSOE,” comments a man, referring to Spain’s conservative and socialist parties, respectively. The remark is fitting, as this odd mix of air-kissers and fist-raisers has gathered for an upstart political party that blends the politics of right and left.

At the heart of the great Ciudadanos (“Citizens”) circus shaking up Spain is Albert Rivera, the most popular of the country’s four main party leaders and, at 36, the youngest. In the auditorium, cameramen swoop around the stage. “Rivera Presidente!” cries the crowd as screens flash the words: “con ilusión” (“with hope”).

Nearer midnight, the man himself sweeps onto the podium. He is wearing a headset-mic and looks even more like a fitness instructor than usual. “Pre-si-dente!” chants the room as Rivera — with his faux-bashful Princess Diana gaze — declares this moment the most important in 35 years of Spanish democracy.

He has a point. For much of the period since Franco’s death, Spain has been dominated by two monolithic parties: the Socialists (PSOE) on the left and the PP on the right. Yet ahead of Spain’s general election on December 20, this duopoly is breaking. Podemos, the far-left outfit close to Greece’s Syriza and inspired by left-wing populists in Latin America like Evo Morales, has faded since peaking at second place and a projected 23.9 percent vote-share in January. In polling published by the Sociological Investigation Center (CIS) on December 3, it was at 15.7 percent.

Meanwhile Ciudadanos, a broadly centrist, liberal party, has surged from 3.1
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