They were born in September 2007, two years after Ciudadanos (then Ciutadans) and seven years before Podemos.
In the March 2008 elections, when the bipartisan system concentrated 83.8% of the votes – in 2019 the PP and the PSOE alone added 49.3% -, they managed to put their head in Congress with one seat, that of its president, the ex-socialist Rosa Díez. In the 2011 generals, they rose to five deputies with 1,143,225 votes.
In those of 2015 they lost a million supporters despite the fact that the electoral census had increased by more than 700,000 voters.
In February 2016, Díez unsubscribed and asked for “a dignified end”for UPyD. The BOE has just published the decision of a commercial court to declare its termination due to the non-payment of a debt of more than 20,000 euros with a former employee, the former deputy Beatriz Becerra. Leaders, former leaders and political scientists analyze the rise and fall of the party that opened the first crack in the imperfect bipartisanship.
The beginnings. Diez inaugurated the “without complexes” —which Pablo Casado would later exploit— as a political slogan. In front of a packed auditorium, he presented, in September 2007, a month after leaving the PSOE, the party of “the third Spain”, the house “of the disenchanted”, sheltered by the philosopher Fernando Savater and the writer Mario Vargas Llosa.
“It was the first center-left party that seamlessly defended the unity of Spain. A little revolution, ”recalls Savater. “We went to the banks and they didn’t give us money because they were already committed to the big guys, but we made a hole for ourselves,” he adds.
They exploited David’s appeal against Goliath, resorted to crowdfunging, and attracted a younger electorate.
“They were born closely linked to the movement of victims of terrorism and represented a kind of Jacobin center-left,” explains political scientist Pablo Simón.
“His program defended ideas comparable to the PSOE while implementing anti-nationalism and capitalizing on the malaise of 15-M with promises of regeneration and transparency” [they appeared in a score of legal cases, including the Bankia case]. José Pablo Ferrándiz, from Metroscopia, describes them as a “refugee party”.
“When the voters of the PP and the PSOE were disenchanted, they went to UPyD —more from the PP than from the PSOE—, but when the polarization became extreme or the result of an election was anticipated adjusted, they returned to their reference parties.”
Try your own medicine . The internal problems started early. In July 2009, one of the founders, Mikel Buesa, and other leaders who accused Díez of “authoritarianism” left the party —the former president of UPyD has declined to participate in this report.
Disciplinary proceedings, expulsions, resignations and managers follow one another.
“I am leaving because I have discovered a sectarian apparatus that does not admit debate or criticism”, affirmed in 2013 the coordinator in Euskadi, Nicolás de Miguel .
Something similar – “perverse and authoritarian practices” – will say before saying goodbye to the European spokesman, Francisco Sosa Wagner, after being fired by Díez in 2014. His replacement, Enrique Calvet, shares, upon taking office, that the leadership is leading the party “To catastrophe.”
As José Pablo Ferrándiz of Metroscopia recalls, in her last years as a Socialist MEP, Díez had criticized her own party almost more than the PP, but once in the presidency of UPyD, she was relentless with critics.
“Díez and his apparatus maintain the typical behavior of a sect that seeks to create an internal enemy to blame for its mistakes,” declared MEP Fernando Maura after being suspended along with Calvet.
Savater defends her: “Rosa has a strong personality, like many in politics.
For a time she was the highest rated leader, but there was a campaign against her and they turned her into a bad witch. ” “Those internal fights took their toll on us,” says Cristiano Brown, current president of the formation. “More than other things, such as the non-agreement with Citizens.”
Ravaged by Citizens. One of the keys to the internal battle in UPyD was the relationship with Cs, to the point that several former leaders agree that their situation would now be very different if they had agreed to an alliance. Diez and Rivera met on several occasions, but the negotiation did not materialize.
“I was in favor of agreeing with them and I think it was a mistake not to. We lost an opportunity “, recalls Savater, who nevertheless blames” those who preferred to vote for the corrupt and those who agreed with the nationalists “for the fall of UPyD.
“Now they have what they wanted,” he says bitterly. For Brown, “Díez did not understand that people do not want games castled, but rather know how to give in.”
In the process of decomposition of UPyD due to internal fights, its leaders chose to abandon politics or change parties. Rosa Díez asked for the vote for Pablo Casado in the last generals .
Popular Basques admitted that the possibility of him ending up in their ranks made them “hair stand on end”, but the former president of UPyD, a close friend of Cayetana Álvarez de Toledo, did not sign for the PP.
Most of the leaders of the formation were loved by Cs. Their former boss called them “turncoats and traitors.”
Both parties attended the European elections together – the highest representative of UPyD is the MEP Maite Pagazaurtundúa – and the general elections – Albert Rivera added Cristiano Brown and Fernando Savater to the Madrid lists.
“You have to support what is out there, and for me the closest thing to UPyD is Citizens,” says Savater. Irene Lozano ended up on the PSOE lists. Mikel Buesa, who before participating in the founding of UPyD had been in the PP, supported Vox.
The cotton test. “From UPyD only the initials remain. They have not passed the test of the new parties: surviving the founding leader. Ciudadanos is in that process. In Podemos that moment will also come ”, explains Pablo Simón.
Becerra, who in addition to being an MEP was in charge of communication in the party, believes that UPYD “died a long time ago” and regrets that they have prevented “a worthy end”, among other things, with a “literary reckoning” – books by former leaders blaming themselves of the disaster. “It has become a caricature.”
Brown criticizes those who “preferred to leave rather than stay to fight” and insists on resuscitation: “We will appeal the judicial decision. Now we cannot pay the debt, but we continue to be a viable and necessary project ”.