Comuns Sumar, hoping to be part of a broad left coalition

Jéssica Albiach’s party, unaligned on independence but pro-referendum, fighting to keep hold of MP seats

Comuns Sumar candidate for the Catalan election, Jéssica Albiach
Comuns Sumar candidate for the Catalan election, Jéssica Albiach / Gerard Artigas
Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | @pile_of_eggs | Barcelona

May 3, 2024 11:29 AM

May 3, 2024 01:30 PM

The May 12 election is happening nine months ahead of schedule arguably in part because of Comuns Sumar after they rejected the 2024 Catalan budget, causing President Pere Aragonès to call elections early. 

Jéssica Albiach, leader of the party, refused to back a budget deal without a commitment from Esquerra that money would not go towards the controversial Hard Rock project, the casino-hotel complex planned for near Salou in southern Catalonia. Yet, Aragonès pointed the finger of blame back toward Albiach, pointing out that her party had supported the 2023 spending plan, which had already planned for progress on the project. 


According to Albiach, Esquerra Republicana “lied to the citizens” about the Hard Rock project and “pushed for a deal to give more guarantees that Europe’s biggest casino project would go ahead in the Tarragona area, and a deal in which La Caixa bank would earn more money.”

From Podemos to Sumar

The left-wing platform was known as En Comú–Podem in the last term, but are now called Comuns Sumar, after switching allegiances from Podemos to the newly-formed Sumar platform led in Spain by Yolanda Díaz. After the definitive rupture, Podemos decided against presenting any candidacy in Catalonia to avoid splitting the left-wing vote. 

Their candidate for president is again Jéssica Albiach and the party aims to improve on their previous results of eight seats and 6.9% of the vote share. 

The left-wing political space of Comuns Sumar is facing a challenge amid surging support for the Socialists and stagnating election results in Catalonia. They have only contested three previous elections, but have seen their support reduced in each new vote. The party has also struggled to make inroads in more rural parts of the country, with their support concentrated in urban areas.

The party’s slogan for the elections is 'La Catalunya que ve', meaning ‘The next Catalonia’ or ‘The Catalonia that’s coming’. 

Comuns Sumar are unique in the political landscape in that they do not fall explicitly on either side of the independence question, although they are in favor of letting Catalans vote on their future. 

Environmentalist, housing, education

In terms of some of the biggest projects that Catalonia has been weighing up over the past mandate, Comuns Sumar are against the airport expansion and the Hard Rock casino-hotel complex on ideological grounds. Both projects would imply environmental impacts that Comuns Sumar are inherently against. 

“The only progressive vote right now certain to bring us towards a more fair, more green, and more feminist Catalonia is a vote for the Comuns,” Albiach has said on the campaign trail. 

Housing, on the other hand, is one of the main priorities for the left-wing party, who target expanding Catalonia’s offering of public housing for both the rental and purchase markets. They also propose that seasonal rentals be regulated, as the party views this as a “back door” to “circumvent” the housing law and rent caps. 

Albiach has called access to housing one of the main problems for Catalans, and proposed a 30% tax of the price of the property on any flats purchased that the buyer does not intend to live in. The leader of Comuns Sumar says that the same measure already exists in Vienna. 

“In government, we will create by law a new unit to defend the right to housing to put an end to real estate speculation,” Albiach announced. “We have a serious problem of access to housing in our country. There are exorbitant prices, and also empty houses.”

The candidate also said that work must continue to improve Catalonia’s self-rule, calling for a "fair" financing system that can overcome the "barbarism and anomaly" that is currently in place.

Education is also an important point in the manifesto of Comuns Sumar, who want to tackle school segregation, offering more opportunities for less well-off families.

Polls forecast losses

Polls indicate that the left-wing party are set to suffer losses again in this election. They are predicted to win 3-6 seats according to the latest Catalan government-funded survey poll, falling short of the 8 MPs they currently have. 

Albiach would opt for a progressive coalition government, but has avoided speaking about the formula to make this happen, but has previously pushed for a broad left coalition including the pro-independence Esquerra Republicana and the Socialists, who are for Spanish unity.