Ciutadans and Podemos are called to burst into the Spanish Congress in the next general elections. Two new parties that are very different but that have something in common: both have a charismatic leader that embodies the image of the group.
Albert Rivera (1979), the leader of Ciutadans, was born in Barcelona. His Catalan father and his Andalusian mother have a humble origin and had worked in an electrical appliance shop in the neighborhood of La Barceloneta, in Catalan capital. They didn’t have anything to do with politics.
The parents of the leader of Podemos, Pablo Iglesias (1978), are totally different. Both are from Soria. His mother, Maria Luisa Turrión, was a lawyer and a member of Comisiones Obreras (CC.OO.) union. His father, Francisco Javier Iglesias, was a worker inspector and professor of History, and he also joined the Frente Revolucionario Antifascista y Patriota (FRAP). Even more, his parental grandfather was a socialist-humanist politician that was sentenced to death during the Franquist Dictatorship, and his maternal grandfather was a founder of the union Unión General de Trabajadores (UGT).
Although the origins of Rivera where so humble, he studied law in the private university Ramon Llull, in the Faculty of Law of ESADE, and also did a master in Constitutional Law. Meanwhile, he also participated in the debate club where, with his team, won a statal league being elected as the best speaker.
Pablo Iglesias also studied law, but on Universidad Complutense of Madrid, a public university of the Spanish capital. He didn’t join the oratorical club but the antiglobalization movement where he defended the civil disobedience. He also did a degree in Political Science where he received the extraordinary award because of his marks (he get an average of 9.22). After making some studies abroad, he became a professor of Political Science at the same public university.
Rivera didn’t continue his academical career and he started working in the Catalan bank “La Caixa”. He leaved it when he became the leader of Ciutadans. A party that he joined because of the proposal of his Constitutional teacher Fernando de Carreras, one of the thinking heads and founders of the group.
Iglesias started participating with political parties in Izquierda Unida, where he worked as an external assessor for the general elections in 2011. His couple in that moment, Tania Sanchez, was also a leader of that party in the municipality of Madrid. But he didn’t appear publicly involved in politics until he was interviewed in the right-wing channel Intereconomia for his participation in the demonstration of Rodea el Congreso, a protest that went around the spanish Parliament. Since then, a lot of television channels started asking him for appearing as a debater and he make himself publicly known. Taking advantage of this situation, he, with his friends and partners of the university, started Podemos, a party that went to the European elections in 2014 and got 5 seats.
Being known was more difficult for Albert Rivera: when he became the leader of Ciutadans, in order to appear in the television, has to show a photography of him nude in the poster of the party. In that elections, in 2006, his party got 3 seats in the Catalan Parliament, now they have 9.
Two leaders with just one year of difference, Pablo Iglesias is 36 years old and Albert Rivera is 35. Before been 40 years old, both politicians have changed the political panorama in Spain. Both with a parallel but a different life, an experience that have become them into the leaders of two parties that have no past, but seems to have a great future.