CUP: the party seeking independence through subversion

Under the slogan "ungovernable", the far-left party is running in a Spanish general election for the first time

CUP candidate in the Spanish election Mireia Vehí (by ACN)
CUP candidate in the Spanish election Mireia Vehí (by ACN) / Neil Stokes

Neil Stokes | Barcelona

November 4, 2019 04:45 PM

When polling stations open on November 10 for the fourth Spanish general election in as many years, voters will have a new option among the parties competing on the ballot: the Candidatura d'Unitat Popular (Popular Unity Candidacy), or CUP.

The most radically left-wing among the parties in the Catalan parliament, and the most radically pro-independence, CUP has decided to run in a Spanish general election for the first time since winning its first parliamentary seats in the Catalan elections of 2012.

The party is standing in this general election due to the "exceptional democratic circumstances, marked by repression and the criminalization of independentism and the repeated violation of civil and social rights on the part of the Spanish state."

Last week, CUP unveiled its election campaign slogan, which encapsulates its political stance in one word: 'Ingovernables' (Ungovernable). The party considers the Spanish state to be "unreformable," and it aims to subvert it rather than seek its transformation.

A limited but decisive role

The latest poll on the likely outcome of the November 10 election published last week by the CIS public research institute predicted that CUP would win between one or two seats in the Spanish congress, and the party holds just four seats in the Catalan parliament.

Yet, CUP has played a key role in the independence movement, working closely with major pro-independence parties and using its votes to ensure a majority in the chamber in favor of a Catalan republic.

However, its hardline ideological stance has made for a rocky relationship with the two main pro-independence parties, ERC and JxCat, and the party's four MPs abstained in the vote to elect the Quim Torra government following the Catalan elections of 2017.

Critical of other pro-independence parties

CUP's main candidate for congress, Mireia Vehí, was highly critical of ERC and JxCat in an interview with the Catalan News Agency last week, accusing both parties of proposing "non-existent" solutions to Catalonia's ongoing conflict with Spain.

Vehí said ERC, which the CIS poll suggested could increase its seats in congress from 15 to 18, is willing to gift the Spanish presidency to Pedro Sánchez "in exchange for nothing," characterizing ERC's "hope for an agreement with the State" as misguided.

Yet, the party has not completely ruled out working with ERC and JxCat, as long as the parties in government in Catalonia join CUP in a "critical front" against Sánchez's Socialists and accept that solving the Catalan crisis lies in "self-determination, rights and amnesty."

"Our aim is to subvert the system"

Given the differences between the parties, such an alliance is unlikely. CUP candidate, Eulàlia Reguant, recently told Catalan News that her party holds JxCat "responsible for the police brutality," and the party has called for interior minister, Miquel Buch, to be sacked.

Reguant also reiterated CUP's stated aims, which are "not to amend a broken and corrupt system, but to subvert it," and she added: "It's not in congress that we can solve society's needs, it's on the streets. This process started on the streets and it will finish there."