Catalan Socialist Party doesn’t expel the rebel MPs but sidelines them
The leadership of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) has decided to remove the 3 MPs who supported Catalonia’s self-determination from their positions within the party organisation and at the Catalan Parliament. However, the MPS were neither expelled from the party, nor from the parliamentary group. This way, the PSC avoids passing from 20 to 17 MPs and therefore becoming the 4th largest group at the Catalan Parliament, behind the 19 MPs of the People’s Party. In the last few days, the PSC leadership was insisting that the 3 MPs should quit the Parliament and leave their seat to the next person on the list. But the rebel MPs rejected this idea since, according to them, they represent a share of the voters who elected PSC representatives because they ran in the last elections supporting the organisation of a legal self-determination vote this term.
Barcelona (ACN).- The leadership of the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) has decided to remove the 3 MPs who supported Catalonia’s self-determination and broke the party lines from their positions within the party organisation and at the Catalan Parliament. However, the PSC’s Secretary General, Pere Navarro, has neither expelled them from the party, nor from the parliamentary group. This way, the PSC avoids passing from 20 to 17 MPs and therefore becoming the 4th largest group at the Catalan Parliament, behind the 19 MPs of the People’s Party (PP). In the last few days, the PSC leadership was insisting that the 3 MPs should quit the Parliament and leave their seat to the next person on the list for having disobeyed the party’s instructions. However, the 3 MPs rejected the idea and repeated on several occasions they would be staying. The rebel MPs argued they represent “the party’s plurality” and a share of the voters who voted for the PSC because it ran in the last elections supporting the organisation of a legal self-determination vote this term. However, in the last few months the party leadership has run away from supporting self-determination in order not to split up with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), to which is federated and which is absolutely against Catalonia’s self-determination. This has created huge tensions within the party and there are serious risks of scissions. In fact, with 3 rebel MPs in the parliamentary group and a party leadership insisting on running away from self-determination and joining the anti-referendum block led by the People’s Party (PP), more is yet to come. One of the MPs, Marina Geli, has warned Navarro that by putting them on the sideline, he will not solve “the PSC’s deep problem”.
On Thursday, Joan Ignasi Elena, Marina Geli and Núria Ventura voted for a bill requesting the Spanish Parliament to transfer the powers to organise referendums to the Catalan Government, using Article 150.2 of the Spanish Constitution. They disobeyed the leadership’s instructions that were to oppose the initiative. In the previous weeks up to 6 MPs (30% of the total) had pressured Pere Navarro to allow a free vote or, at least, to recommend abstention. However, Navarro refused to change his mind and insisted on imposing the ‘no’ vote. In the end, one MP, Angel Ros, quit the Parliament one day before the vote for not having to betray his consciousness and 3 other MPs (Elena, Geli and Ventura) broke the party lines.
The party leadership had asked the rebel MPs to resign
Several voices within the party showed their support to the rebel MPs in the last few days. Furthermore, leading members of the party have resigned from their positions within the party’s organisation as a protest. However, the party leadership announced on Thursday, minutes after the vote, that it had given a 4-day deadline to the MPs to hand in the parliamentary seat to the party and quit. The deadline expired on Sunday. During these four days, many people have been asking Navarro and his inner circle not to expel the 3 MPs.
Putting the rebel MPs on the sideline
On Monday, the PSC’s Disciplinary Committee decided to take away from the 3 MPs all the party positions at the Executive Board, National Council and territorial organisations. However, the most awaited decision was what would happen at the Catalan Parliament. Finally, in order not to have a smaller group, Navarro has decidedon Tuesday not to expel the 3 MPs from the parliamentary group, as he would have lost the 3 seats (since they belong to the MP, not to the party). The solution: he has removed them from all the parliamentary positions and committees, also reducing their wages since they will not receive some salary complements attached to these positions.
Geli answers Navarro
Marina Geli, who used to be the Catalan Minister for Health between 2003 and 2010 (managing an annual budget of some €9 billion), warned Navarro that by putting them aside, he is “not solving the PSC’s deep problem”. Geli pointed out that many councillors, mayors, party members and voters are supporting Elena, Ventura and her. “This goes beyond 3 MPs”, she said. “You only have to go out on the street and see the amount of Socialist people who want to feel represented by a PSC that has always been next to the pro-Catalan movements”, she emphasised.
The PSC’s tradition
The PSC has traditionally been one of Catalonia’s two largest parties, being one of the main actors of Catalan politics over the last 35 years and with a great municipal power. The PSC resulted from the merging, in 1977, of two Catalan socialist parties with the federation of the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) in Catalonia. At that time, the PSOE – led by Felipe González and Alfonso Guerra – openly supported Catalonia’s right to self-determination and Catalonia’s nationhood since Spain was “a nation of nations”. The PSC united in a single party the people defending Catalan language, culture and identity with those defending the unity of Spain; it merged people with Spanish-speaking environments and roots from others parts of Spain with people born in Catalonia and from Catalan-speaking backgrounds. These two different social backgrounds were commonly known as “the two souls of the PSC”.
The magic formula to make everything work was defending a pluri-national Spain, a nation of nations, and at the same time defending Catalonia’s self-government and the knowledge of Catalan language and culture as an essential asset for the entire society. In the early 1980s the PSC issued the following slogan “Socialists and ‘Catalanists, for the same reasons”. However, 35 years after its foundation, the PSC seems kidnapped by the PSOE’s faction and has gradually put aside the members supporting the most pro-Catalan stances. In fact, many of its highest-ranking members have already quit the party, such as the former Catalan President (2003-2006) and Mayor of Barcelona during the Olympics (1982-1996), Pasqual Maragall.