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The leader of Spain's Ciudadanos (Cs) party, Albert Rivera, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi are working on the creation of a joint platform that will allow them to run together in the European elections of 2019, under the same electoral brand. This was revealed on Monday by Christophe Castaner, president of the French liberal party La Republique En marche! which Macron founded, after meeting in Madrid with Rivera and Cs secretary general, José Manuel Villegas. Castaner also explained that last week he took part in a three-way conference-call to negotiate the proposal along with Rivera and Sandro Gozi, advisor of Matteo Renzi. 

According to Castaner, the proposal is for “a platform of convergence” which other political groupings could also join, in order to construct “a common project” uniting “all European progressives independently of their political origin” aimed at stopping the “populists”. It is not a question of forming a party, said Castaner, but rather a union of political groupings that share a belief in the European project.

The announcement comes only 24 hours after the meeting that Spanish prime minister Pedro Sánchez held with Macron. The secretary general of Ciudadanos, José Manuel Villegas, says that the Spanish party is working with the French formation “to construct a common project” and that they are “preferential partners” for each other with a “fluid” relationship.

Spain's Ciudadanos party, currently rating strongly among Spanish voters, was founded as Ciutadans (Citizens) in Catalonia in 2006, and its actual ideological position has long been a matter of dispute between supporters (who may refer to it as liberal or even social democrat) and opponents, who see it as a right-wing party. What is clear is its strong opposition to the Catalan independence movement and its recent heavy use of Spanish nationalist symbolism.