Party Review: En Comú Podem, the Catalan alternative left coalition
The alternative left in Catalonia is gathered around En Comú Podem, a coalition which is running for the Spanish elections with members from Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV, alternative left-wing Podem, which is the Catalan branch of the Spanish party Podemos, and representatives from the 'En Comú' candidacies, which won significant mayoralties in the last local elections, for example that of Barcelona, with social activist and now Barcelona mayor Ada Colau as its strongest asset. En Comú Podem's programme focuses on social measures to beat the crisis which "is still lashing Spain" and improving the situation "of those who are suffering its consequences", stated its top member, Xavier Domènech. Regarding Catalonia's push for independence, Domènech defended the celebration of a "binding referendum" with "a clear question which can be answered with yes or no", he stated.
Barcelona (CNA).- En Comú Podem gathers together members from Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV, alternative left-wing Podem, which is the Catalan branch of the Spanish party Podemos, and representatives from the 'En Comú' candidacies, which won significant mayoralties in the last local elections, for example that of Barcelona, with social activist and now Barcelona mayor Ada Colau as its strongest asset. En Comú Podem's programme for the upcoming Spanish elections focuses on social measures to beat the crisis which "is still lashing Spain" and improving the situation "of those who are suffering its consequences", stated its top member, Xavier Domènech. This would mean fighting "social inequalities" but also "reversing" the trends of the labour market and its precarious conditions. Regarding Catalonia's push for independence, Domènech defended the celebration of a "binding referendum" so that the debate could be carried out "like in Scotland". "The referendum must be based on a clear question which can be answered with yes or no", he stated.
"We are not Podemos' branch office" stated Domènech at his press conference this Thursday at CNA headquarters. "We are a Catalan alliance with members of Podem Catalunya but also from Catalan Green-Socialist party ICV and representatives from 'Barcelona En Comú' and other 'En Comú' candidacies, which won significant mayoralties in the last local elections in Catalonia, for example that of Barcelona, with Ada Colau at its front", he stated. "We are a completely Catalan coalition which is going to have its own parliamentary group in the Spanish Parliament" assured Domènech.
Holding a referendum in Catalonia "within a year"
"We are committed to Catalonia's right to decide and we call for holding a referendum within a year" stated Domènech, just as Spanish Podemos' leader Pablo Iglesias has repeatedly assured during Spain's electoral campaign. Domènech emphasised that "it is possible" to celebrate a referendum "without reforming the Spanish Constitution" and this is by "applying article 92" which foresees the celebration of consultative referendums. "It is therefore clear that the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, didn't want to hold this referendum" he stated "because he could have done it".
According to Domènech, the referendum should be based on a "clear question on Catalonia's independence" which can be answered with "yes or no". "A debate is needed in Catalonia and it has to be a debate like the Scottish one" he emphasised "and the referendum is the only mechanism through which Catalonia can have such a debate".
He admitted that there is majority of Catalans which support "Catalonia's sovereignty"."All the voters in Catalonia, even those who supported Ciutadans, which has a strong Spanish unionist outlook, believe that a referendum should be carried out in Catalonia" he declared. "Obviously, the referendum has to be clear and it has to be a question about independence, yes or no. We support the celebration of a referendum because we think this is the majoritarian proposal and that which could solve the problem" he assured but admitted that "there are different positions" within En Comú Podem regarding the result of this referendum "there are pro-independence members, federalist members and others who have other priorities in our coalition".
A Podemos victory, the only guarantee that a referendum will be held
Domènech admitted that the celebration of this referendum would only be possible "if En Comú Podem wins the elections in Catalonia and Podemos obtains great results in the whole of Spain" which he assured "is going to happen, because of the referendum proposal but also because of many other proposals". He also expressed a lack of faith that a referendum would be held if the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) win the elections. "PSOE have more sensible proposals when they are in opposition than when they rule the government" he stated.
When asked what he would vote in the event of a referendum taking place, Domènech admitted that he "believes" in "Catalonia's full sovereignty" but nuanced that "it would be good to share this sovereignty with the rest of Spain". However, he emphasised that "the only real solution to Catalonia's situation is to fight for the celebration of a referendum". Following this, he assured that "achieving a pro-independence majority" is "another debate" which should not be confused with "fighting for Catalonia's right to decide".
A law to stop social cuts
Besides the Catalan debate, En Comú Podem represents the "party of social measures". "We want to safeguard the social rights" emphasised Domènech "from access to the health service, to education and housing". The economic crisis which "is still lashing Spain" led to the "deterioration of the labour market" and accentuated "social inequalities". To redress this, En Comú Podem aims to fight the "policy of cuts" by establishing "by law" that "the investment in the health service, education and social services can't be reduced at any administrative level".
"We have to keep up with the European standards in terms of investment in the health service and social services" he stated. Domènech also called for the abolishing of article 135 of the Spanish Constitution, which he feels gives priority to "reduction of the public debt" rather than "reduction of unemployment".
The new politics
"The two-party system in Spain has died" stated Domènech "we came here to change things". In response to those who claimed that Podemos and anti-Catalan nationalism Ciutadans are the new PSOE and People's Party (PP), Domènech assured that "they are wrong". The fight "against corruption and the revolving doors policy" is at the core of En Comú Podem partner party Podemos and "such proposals" are going to "make the difference" according to Domènech.