Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Quick Primer on Catalonia's Political Parties

As ever, this is hardly unbiased. But it'll situate you during the General Policy Debate taking place today through Thursday in the Catalan Parliament. Catalan politics is complicated by the fact that the left gets divided between ambiguously-catalanist (PSC, ICV, EUiA) and explicitly-Catalanist positions (ERC, SI), while the right mostly is controlled by Catalanist-talking (and-currently-acting?) CiU, which sometimes aligns with strongly-centralist PPC.

In order of representation. Suggestions and comments mostly welcome, in moderation.

CiU (Convergència i Unió/Convergence and Union). 62 seats (2010). A coalition of CDC (Convergència Democràtica de Catalunya/Catalan Democratic Convergence) and UDC (Unió Democràtica de Catalunya/Catalan Democratic Union), they support what we Americans consider conservative fiscal policies. I've never been really clear by what they mean by "convergence" but they have been the main "Catalan nationalist" party in power since the Transition. I put "Catalan nationalist" in quotes because up until September 11, 2012, they espoused Catalan language, literature, and some autonomy, but not independence. They continue to be reluctant to use the word "independence", opting instead for "estat propi" which doesn't have a direct translation into English, something like "one's own state". This dialectal ambiguity makes many Catalans wonder if they really mean independence (e.g., secession from Spain) or if they would agree to be a state more like Massachusetts (hardly independent from the US) or Bavaria (ditto with Germany).

Major players: Artur Mas (President of Catalonia and of CDC and CiU), Antoni Duran i Lleida (President of UDC), Oriol Pujol (son of former President Jordi Pujol, and General Secretary of CDC), Francesc Homs (spokesperson), Ramon Tremosa (Member of European Parliament for CiU)

PSC (Partit Socialista de Catalunya/Socialists' Party of Catalonia). 28 seats (2010). Basically a subsidiary (!) of the Spanish Socialist Party, which might sound scary to Americans, but is pretty much aligned with American Democrats, perhaps slightly left of center. Their alliance with the Spanish PSOE means they tend not to be Catalanist, though there seems to be increasing tension within the party on this score.

Major players: Pere Navarro (President), Miquel Iceta (spokesperson), Joaquim Nadal (Leader of the Opposition, something akin to a US Congress Minority Whip)

PPC (Partit Popular de Catalunya/People's Party of Catalonia). 18 seats (2010). A subsidiary of Spain's PP (People's Party), which grew out of the Alianza Popular, founded by former Franco minister Manuel Fraga. They are both rightist and centralist.

Major players: Alícia Camacho Sánchez (President), Jordi Cornet (Secretari General).

ICV-EUiA (Iniciativa/Initiative for Catalonia Greens) & (Esquerra Unida i Alternativa/United and Alternative Left). 10 seats (2010). Very broadly, without going into centuries of Spanish and Catalan history, this coalition is a loose and perhaps modernized descendant of the Catalan Communist party (PSUC). They tend slightly farther left than PSC, but espouse an "international" mindset that while not anti-Catalan, often relegates Catalan interests to a second level. In my mind, they have been closely aligned with the #15M movement (the inspiration from Spain for the Occupy movement) and also support ecology related issues.

Major players: Joan Herrera (General Secretary)

ERC (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya/Republican Left of Catalonia). 10 seats (2010). Esquerra is the party with the most independentist history, as it is the party of Francesc Macià (who declared an independent Catalan Republic in 1931), and Lluís Companys, Catalan president who was executed by Franco's troops. Presently, its politics are slightly left of center with a special emphasis on Catalan interests and independence.

Major players: Oriol Junqueras (President), Alfred Bosch (MP in Spanish Congress), Anna Simó (spokesperson)

SI (Solidaritat Catalana per la Independència/Catalan Solidarity for Independence). New party formed before 2010 elections, purely independentist, Catalanist, left of center.

Major players: Toni Strubell (president), Alfons López Tena, Uriel Bertran

C's (Ciudadanos/Party of the Citizenry). 3 seats. Centralist, anti-catalanist.

Major players: Albert Rivera, Jordi Cañas

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