Party review – CiU, the Centre-Right Catalan Nationalist Coalition
Convergència i Unió (CiU) will very likely win the elections and rule the Catalan Government. It is already the first party in the Catalan Parliament, with 48 seats (out of 135), and polls predict it could get a result just below the absolute majority, with a range from 59 to 65 seats. CiU is a coalition of 2 parties: a Liberal and a Christian-Democratic. In the last years, CiU has openly defended Catalonia’s right to self-determination and, in this campaign, CiU’s main proposal is to negotiate a special economic agreement for fiscal redistribution with the Spanish Government, in line with the Basque Country’s.
Barcelona (ACN).- Artur Mas is CiU\u2019s leader and, very likely, he will be the next Catalan President. Mas is CiU\u2019s candidate for the third time, after having won the 2003 and the 2006 elections but with a result too small to govern alone. Both in 2003 and 2006, he could have led a governing coalition with the Left-Wing Catalan Independence Party (ERC) or, much more unlikely, with the Catalan Socialist Party (PSC). However, affinity between party leaderships, previous talks, governing experiences at the local level and complementarities in Social-Democratic programmes made the PSC and ERC agree between themselves and a third party (the Catalan Green Socialists, ICV-EUiA) to form a Left-Wing 3-party governing coalition, which ruled Catalonia from December 2003 until nowadays. CiU was put in the opposition after having ruled the Catalan Government since 1980, under the old leadership of Jordi Pujol. Artur Mas has been the leader of the Opposition for the last 7 years. In the early years of the opposition times, CiU was wandering in the wilderness, seeing how the Left-Wing coalition was ruling the country and gaining power at a municipal level. However, in the last years, polls have been predicting a clear victory for the CiU and a loss of support and consequent defeat for the 3-party coalition.
This time, it is crystal clear that CiU will rule the Catalan Government again. Only a political earthquake could stop them, and 2 days before the elections it seems impossible. However, CiU will likely need some support to govern. Taking into account these last 7 years, CiU\u2019s preferred option is to govern alone, with punctual agreements in the Catalan Parliament to pass legislation and get investiture. However, in this campaign, the ERC has made some offers to the CiU. They could count on their support on some initiatives, for instance in claiming for a new economic agreement. But Artur Mas has discarded talking about governing coalitions or parliamentary agreements before the election night. CiU still fears that if the MPs of PSC, ERC and ICV-EUiA sum together the magic number of 68, which corresponds to the absolute majority, they could repeat the 3-party governing coalition. However, according to all the polls, this possibility is almost impossible. Nevertheless, CiU insists on this possibility, especially because it does not want its electorate to be demobilised by thinking that the victory is guaranteed. CiU\u2019s bases are much mobilised and they have been campaigning since months ago, but to win they need new voters or votes from people who previously supported them some elections ago. To reach this objective, CiU is focusing on identity issues and the economy.
CiU\u2019s main proposal in this campaign is claiming for a special economic agreement between Catalonia and Spain, similar to the agreement that the Basque Country and Navarra already have. This new economic agreement would have to ensure a fairer fiscal redistribution for Catalonia. Currently, Catalonia suffers from a large fiscal deficit, quantified to about 10% of its annual GDP. This special economic agreement would allow the Catalan Government to raise all the taxes in Catalonia and then negotiate a fixed amount of money with the Spanish Government to be paid for regional solidarity and for the services and investments the Spanish Government provides Catalonia with. In fact, Catalonia has been claiming for this treatment for many years, but the rest of Spain opposes. The Spanish argument is that this fiscal agreement does not fit into the current Constitution, but CiU denies this and underlines that 2 autonomous communities \u2013 the Basque Country and Navarra \u2013 already have it and that the Constitution does not exclude other autonomies to have it. Another argument by Spanish Nationalists against a new fiscal redistribution is that Catalonia would stop being supportive of poorer regions in Spain. CiU, but also the PSC, the ERC and ICV-EUiA, fully deny this, stressing that Catalonia has been extremely generous for many decades, or even centuries, and that now it is legitimately asking to carry on with this solidarity, but with minor levels, not representing up to the current 10% of its annual GDP.
CiU considers that in order to get this, a new fiscal redistribution model needs to be put into place between Catalonia and Spain. They consider the model approved 2 years ago and negotiated mainly by the PSC to be a bad model. They vindicate the principle that was agreed on by the Catalan Parliament in its 2005 proposal to reform Catalonia\u2019s Statute of Autonomy: Catalonia has to raise all the revenues generated in its territory. However, in the negotiation with the Spanish Government and Parliament, this principle was cut off from the Catalan proposal. Furthermore, the Statute of Autonomy approved by the Spanish Parliament and afterwards by the Catalan people via referendum in 2006 was modified in 2010 by the Constitutional Court and most of the improvements regarding the economic model were cut off. The Court\u2019s sentence provoked a general indignation in Catalonia as well as one of the largest demonstrations ever in Barcelona, with 1.1 million citizens according to the police or 1.5 according to the organisers. After this demonstration, CiU considered the trimmed Statue of Autonomy as well as the economic model to be over. In addition, the Court\u2019s sentence humiliated Catalan Nationalism because it removed the mention in which the Catalan Parliament declared Catalonia to be a nation. The Spanish Constitution states that Spain is formed by \u201Cregions and nationalities\u201D; \u201Cnationalities\u201D was agreed on between the Fascist regime\u2019s heirs and the democratic forces to include historical nations such as Catalonia or the Basque Country.
The 2010 Constitutional Court sentence is a re-centralisation movement that is in line with a general abandoning of the centrist stances by all political forces, in Madrid and in Barcelona. CiU\u2019s Catalan Nationalism heart obliged the coalition to deliver a less moderate speech, claiming for the right to self-determination, which they consider a legitimate right for all peoples, as the United Nations guarantees. CiU was also trying to stop the growth of new separatist parties with a Centre-Right ideology. These new parties, such as \u2018Reagrupament\u2019 and especially the former FC Barcelona president Joan Laporta\u2019s \u2018Solidaritat per la Independència\u2019, could seduce voters that otherwise would have supported CiU. Despite this risk, polls point to a clear victory for CiU, although these small parties could steal 2 to 3 seats that otherwise could have been for CiU and maybe give them the absolute majority.