Catalonia in Common: in between blocs

Q&A on the party that stands as neither unionist nor pro-independence

Leader and candidate of Catalonia in Common Xavier Domènech at a campaign event on December 15 2017 (by Núria Julià)
Leader and candidate of Catalonia in Common Xavier Domènech at a campaign event on December 15 2017 (by Núria Julià) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

December 18, 2017 09:40 PM

While not expected to garner more than 10 seats in Parliament, the Catalonia in Common coalition has more power than may seem. It’s refused to position itself in either pro-independence or unionist bloc, so if no one party gets the majority, its support could be key after December 21.  They’re led by Xavier Domènech, and their motto is ‘We have much in common.’

What is Catalonia in Common?

Its full name is ‘Catalunya en Comú-Podem,’ and, as a coalition, it includes the parties belonging to the Catalonia in Common, grouping Barcelona in Common, Initiative for Catalonia Greens, United & Alternative Left, and Equo along with Podem.

How did they do last term, and what do the polls say?

The party’s predecessor in the 2015 elections, when it won 11 seats, was called Catalonia Yes We Can. This year, polls suggest, Catalonia in Common is set to get less than 10 seats in the Catalan hemicycle.

Who is its leader?

While Xavier Domènech is the number one candidate for the party, its most iconic member is Barcelona mayor Ada Colau, who symbolically occupies the last position on the ticket.

Indeed, Colau—who came to be known for her grassroots activism in eviction—belongs to the municipal version of Catalonia in Common, Barcelona in Common.

Meanwhile, Podem is the Catalan branch of Spanish Podemos, led by Pablo Iglesias, the party borne out of Spain’s Indignado’s movement in response to the economic crisis and the austerity measures. Both Colau and Iglesias have stood as figureheads for radical change, and many Catalonia in Common voters still feel as such.  

For or against independence?

Catalonia in Common has rejected both blocs. As a party, they’ve positioned themselves against Catalonia's unilateral independence, but also against Spain's measures to stop it.

Still, unwavering neutrality has caused cracks in the foundation. Previous leader for Podem in Catalonia, Albano-Dante Fachin, stepped down from his position in the party following holding talks about making possible alliances with pro-independence forces for a future government. Now, Fachin has been participating in pro-independence rallies for the CUP and Esquerra Republicana parties, saying that for the 2017 elections there will “only be two sides: democracy, and authoritarianism.”

 What is its political strategy?

For its part, Catalonia in Common has been avoiding focusing on the issue of Catalan sovereignty, pushing its campaign back into a field where it feels most comfortable: right-leaning versus left-leaning politics. To reinforce its position as a left-leaning party, it has indeed been welcoming international leftist figures at its events. These speakers include French politician and presidential candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the ‘France Insoumise party,’ and English author, commentator and political activist Owen Jones.