Catalan Socialists to oppose any self-determination initiative without Madrid’s approval
The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which is federated to the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), has decided to harden its strategy towards Catalonia’s right to self-determination. In the PSOE’s extraordinary Political Conference, which took place last weekend, the PSC and the PSOE agreed not to break their union and to offer a more coordinated message. The PSC supports the Catalan people’s right to self-determination, but the PSOE totally rejects it. The compromise solution will be that the Catalan Socialists will stop making explicit contributions for an agreed self-determination vote in Catalonia and will focus on opposing any initiative in favour of Catalonia’s self-determination that has not been previously agreed with the Spanish institutions.
Madrid (ACN).- The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC), which is federated to the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), has decided to harden its strategy towards Catalonia’s right to self-determination. From now on, instead of making explicit contributions for an agreed self-determination vote in Catalonia, the PSC will focus on opposing any initiative in favour of Catalonia’s self-determination that has not been agreed in advance with the Spanish institutions. At the PSOE’s extraordinary Political Conference, which took place last weekend, the PSC and the PSOE agreed not to break their union and to offer a more coordinated message. In Catalonia the PSC and PSOE have formed a single party since they merged in 1977. However, in recent years, and particularly in the last few months, tension between the PSC and the PSOE has increased due to Catalonia’s self-determination process. The PSC supports the Catalan people’s right to self-determination, but the PSOE totally rejects it. Some veteran members of the PSOE holding Spanish nationalist stances argued for splitting up with the PSC and running separately in Catalonia. This was officially rejected last weekend, when the Secretary General of the PSOE, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, highlighted the need to “work together”. The message was also shared by the leader of the powerful Andalusian federation of the PSOE, Susana Díaz, who is also the President of Andalusia’s Government. During the weekend there were several appeals for the “unity” of Spain and the “unity” of the Socialists, advocating a federal model for Spain but without granting Catalonia the right to self-determination. The compromise solution for the PSC to avoid a break with the PSOE, will be to focus on opposing any initiative or measure promoting or in favour of a self-determination vote in Catalonia that has not been agreed in advance with the Spanish institutions. PSC sources told ACN that the time had come “to clarify” their position on this issue.
With this new strategy, the Catalan Socialists bring their stance close to that of the PSOE, which maintains its total opposition to Catalonia’s right to self-determination and to organising a vote on the issue. In fact, Spain’s two main parties, the PSOE and the governing People’s Party (PP), totally reject Catalonia’s right to self-determination. Therefore, it is quite unlikely that any measure proposed in the Catalan Parliament regarding this issue would be agreed in advance with the Spanish main parties. The PSC has obviously been aware of this during the last few months. Until this weekend, the PSC’s strategy was proposing to look for the widest possible consensus in the Catalan Parliament supporting Catalonia’s right to self-determination; from this position, a path to organising a self-determination vote allowed by Madrid could be negotiated later with the Spanish Government. However, now the PSC will totally oppose any measure that has not previously been agreed with the Spanish Establishment.
This means the PSC vote will be conditional on receiving the green light from Madrid, ruling out support for any pro-active proposal from the Catalan Parliament. By doing this, the PSC risks weakening the Catalan Parliament’s autonomy and capacity to represent the will of Catalan citizens on this issue. According to all the polls published in the last few months, around 80% of Catalans would support organising a self-determination vote to decide on Catalonia’s future.
From actively proposing a legal self-determination to opposing any non-previously-agreed measure
According to these sources, the paradigm shift implies that from now on the PSC will focus on supporting a vote previously “agreed on” and will oppose the “illegal vote” proposed by many Catalan independence supporters. Therefore, under the new approach, any initiative in the Catalan Parliament that pushes the self-determination process forward without an agreement with the Spanish Government or the Spanish Parliament will receive a “no” from the PSC. The Catalan Socialists say that by doing this they are refusing “to accompany” the governing Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition (CiU) towards what they consider will be a political fiasco because the self-determination vote “will not take place”.
The PSOE’s Political Conference highlighted that the policy priority of Spain’s second largest party is to promote a constitutional reform in the federal direction, but oppose the right to self-determination for Catalonia and other historical nationalities such as the Basque Country. The message was heralded by the President of Andalusia in her first speech, when she warned that the PSC and the PSOE should be “together” and “the Socialist project must be recognizable” throughout Spain. Susana Díaz stated that Spain “cannot stand the PSOE creating confusion and insecurity among citizens”.
Before Díaz’s speech, the PSC’s Secretary General, Pere Navarro, had held a meeting with Susana Díaz, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba (Secretary General of the PSOE) and the President of Asturias, Javier Fernández. They all spoke about the regional model in their speeches and, to a greater or lesser extent, they all appealed for the unity of Spanish Socialism and the challenge of Catalonia’s self-determination process.
The PSC and PSOE “will rebuild together the broken bridges between Catalonia and Spain”
After Susana Diaz’s words on Saturday, on Sunday Pere Navarro saw that Alfredo Perez Rubalcabawas praising the role of the PSC, which is a total change from the last few weeks. Rubalcaba, who even made sure there was a huge standing ovation for Navarro, said that the PSC and PSOE “will rebuild together the broken bridges between Catalonia and Spain” in order to restore the “bridges for the living-togetherness”, doing so following the “unity and diversity” principles and “the will to live together in mutual respect and affection”
In this conference, the PSC and PSOE have also addressed the political role of the Catalan Socialists in the Spanish Parliament, after PSC MPs voted differently to their PSOE peers a few days ago on Catalonia’s right to self-determination, breaking the Socialist Group’s vote discipline for the second time. Sources from the PSC in the Spanish Parliament suggest that in the coming months this situation could even be repeated in three additional votes. This was in fact one of the issues addressed in the conversation held on Sunday between Pere Navarro and the Spokesperson of PSOE at the Spanish Parliament, Soraya Rodriguez, before the close of the Policy Conference.
Fighting the rising influence of Ciutadans (C’s) in Catalonia
The PSC have also decided to try to stop the loss of votes and the rise of the anti-Catalan nationalism and populist party Ciutadans (C’s). PSC sources believe that the growth of the party chaired by Albert Rivera is due to the Catalan independence debate; they reject the idea that C’s is growing because of other ideological reasons. For this reason, the Catalan Socialists will highlight the left-wing – right-wing debate, making proposals on issues such as abortion, euthanasia or pensions. This way the PSC expects to uncover the ideological limitations of C’s.