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Governing CiU may split up after Christian-Democrat party UDC's consultation on Catalan independence

The centre-right pro-Catalan State two-party coalition CiU, which runs the Catalan Government, may be on the verge of splitting up after three-and-a-half decades, and having run together in all the elections. The smaller force within the CiU, the Christian-Democrat party UDC, is going through serious internal tension over Catalonia's independence debate. The party leadership does not support independence, while a significant part of its members does. Added to this, the larger force within the CiU, the Liberal party CDC, is now the main party within the pro-independence camp. However, UDC does not have an official stance on independence and has been avoiding the issue so far, supporting Catalonia's right to self-determination, the organisation of a referendum on this issue and the creation of a Catalan State with full sovereignty, but without specifying its stance on the crucial point: whether this state would be fully independent or would be confederated with Spain. On Sunday, the party held an internal consultation on the party's role in the self-determination process. The vote became a plebiscite on the UDC's leadership. 51% of the members supported the leadership's approach and 46% voted against it.

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15 June 2015 10:11 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The centre-right pro-Catalan State two-party coalition CiU, which runs the Catalan Government, may be on the verge of splitting up after three–and-a-half decades, and having run together in all the elections. The smaller party within the CiU, the Christian-Democrat party UDC, is going through difficult times and is facing serious internal tension over Catalonia's independence debate. The party leadership does not support independence, while a significant part of its members does. Added to this, the larger force within the CiU, the Liberal party CDC – which is led by the Catalan President Artur Mas – has increasingly supported independence over the last 3 years and is now the main party within the pro-independence camp. However, UDC did not have an official stance on independence and was avoiding the issue, supporting Catalonia's right to self-determination, the organisation of a referendum on this issue and the creation of a Catalan State with full sovereignty, but without specifying its stance on the crucial point: whether this state would be fully independent or would be confederated with Spain. The tension of the last hours may lead to the CiU splitting up in the near future and the UDC quitting the Catalan Government. Elections to the Catalan Parliament have been announced for 27 September and are likely to become a de facto plebiscite on independence, as pro-independence parties will be presenting them as such, bearing in mind the total opposition by the Spanish Government to even talk about the self-determination demands or organise a mutually agreed vote on this issue. In these elections, the CiU is unlikely to run together, after the UDC has once again failed to openly support independence.


On Sunday, the UDC held an internal consultation among its members who had to vote on an ambiguous question about the party's role in the self-determination process. The pro-independence faction of the party was greatly offended by the ambiguous question that avoided the full independence issue once again and presented the vote as a plebiscite on the UDC's leadership. The party's leader, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, who is personally against independence, accepted the challenge. 64% of the UDC’s members voted: 51% of them supported the leadership's approach and 46% voted against it. The margin between the two sides was about 125 votes, which had already been reduced to 95 on Monday as there were protests over about 30 votes. In addition, about 60 postal ballots  have still yet to be counted. Such a close margin shows the division in the party and how weak the leadership is at the moment.

The results have been interpreted in two absolutely different ways depending on which faction of the party was speaking. Antoni Castellà, who is leading the pro-independence side, considered the victory margin of the leadership to be too small. Therefore, the leadership should review its stance on the self-determination process, according to him, since almost half of party members are against it. Furthermore, Castellà announced on Monday that they will be negotiating with the other pro-independence parties as to which way UDC could join the current road map agreed among CDC, the social-democrat Catalan independence party ERC and civil society organisations.

UDC does not rule out quitting the Catalan Government

However, the official stance is quite different. The UDC's Secretary General, Ramon Espadaler, stressed that the party has "its own voice" regarding the self-determination process. According to him, after the victory of the leadership proposal, the party's official stance is "perfectly legitimate", ignoring the fact that the victory was by 90 votes and that about half of the party’s members are against the party leadership's approach. According to Espadaler, there is "a clear mandate" after the internal consultation and they will defend it when talking to the CDC.

On Monday, Espadaler insisted that the victory of the leadership's proposal had been "categorical" and that even though there is a significant share of members who do not support it, the majority does and so "it has to be respected". In this vein, he ruled out the possibility of reinterpreting the proposal and modifying it, as it would be "a fraud" to those who backed it. Espadaler is therefore rejecting any consensual solution and is imposing the leadership’s views. In addition, he also ruled out the possibility of negotiating with all the pro-independence parties, which is what the UDC's pro-independence faction wanted to do. The party's Executive Board voted for the proposal to negotiate only with the CDC the role of the Christian-Democrats in Catalonia's self-determination process.

In addition, he said that UDC will not "stick themselves" to the Catalan Government's chairs and that, if they have to, they are ready to leave government. This leaves the final decision to the Catalan President, Artur Mas. The National Coordinator of the CDC (Mas' party) stated on Monday evening that if UDC does not embrace full independence, they will not be able to run together in the next Catalan elections, to be held on 27 September. In such a scenario it is likely that UDC will distance themselves from CDC as much as possible and as quick as possible, in order to run in the elections alone or in coalition with another party.

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  • The Exective Board of UDC, on Monday (by P. Mateos)

  • The Exective Board of UDC, on Monday (by P. Mateos)
Christian-Democrat party UDC faces internal tensions after consultation on Catalan independence