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Catalan Socialists’ leadership runs away from self-determination

The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) held this weekend an extraordinary meeting and approved the leadership’s proposal to oppose any initiative backing Catalonia’s self-determination that has not been agreed in advance with the Spanish Government. The PSC leadership wanted to lay the critics to rest but the crisis is far from being resolved. Critical PSC MPs do not rule out supporting a Catalan Parliament’s motion backing self-determination despite the leadership’s stance. The PSC is facing important internal tensions due to Catalonia’s self-determination issue, including tensions with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) – to which they are federated. After several months of doubts, the PSC leadership decided to prioritise its relationship with the PSOE and distance itself from Catalonia’s right to self-determination, despite its electoral promises.

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18 November 2013 10:20 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- The Catalan Socialist Party (PSC) held this weekend an extraordinary ‘National Council’ – its main decision body in between party congresses – to back the leadership’s views to distance themselves from Catalonia’s self-determination and lay the critics to rest. However, the crisis has not been fully resolved, despite the party leadership’s views being backed with 258 votes, representing 83.5% of support from attendees. 30% of the 430 PSC representatives did not attend the meeting and therefore the leadership’s views only received 60% of explicit support. The proposal presented by the critical MPs received much fewer support: only 41 votes, 13.5% of the votes from those present. Despite these numbers, the critical MPs – who represent prominent figures of the party – do rule out the possibility of breaking ranks in the next Catalan Parliament’s vote on organising a self-determination vote, scheduled for the 4th of December, as it was confirmed on Monday by Joan Ignasi Elena. On this day, the Catalan Parliament will vote a petition requesting the Spanish authorities to transfer the powers to call a referendum to the Catalan Government; the petition follows Article 150.2  of the Spain’s Constitution that foresees devolution of powers to the Autonomous Communities. This formula would provide a totally-legal framework to Catalonia’s self-determination vote and is similar to the one used for Scotland’s referendum. However the PSC leadership is opposing it because it will be "a failure", since the Spanish Government rejects devolving such powers.


The rebel PSC MPs back this formula since it is totally in line with the party’s official stance to support Catalonia’s right to self-determination through a “legal” vote, “agreed” with Spanish institutions. In fact, this was the PSC’s resolution approved in its last party congress and it was also one of its main electoral promises in the last Catalan elections, held in November 2012. However, the party leadership changed its mind and will oppose any initiative in favour of Catalonia’s self-determination that has not been agreed in advance with the Spanish Government, which totally rejects discussing about Catalonia’s self-determination. The PSC leadership took this decision in order to reduce tensions with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE), as it was agreed a week ago in the PSOE’s political conference. Now, the tensions are only held within the PSC and, despite the ‘National Council, it still risks imploding. The PSC crisis is far from being resolved and has been postponed at least until early December.

The PSC Secretary General, Pere Navarro, had called for an urgent ‘National Council’ to lay to a rest critics within the party who have been disagreeing on his last decision to oppose any initiative supporting Catalonia’s self-determination that has not been agreed in advance with the Spanish Government, run by the People’s Party (PP). After months of contradictory actions and statements, the PSC leadership settled on prioritising its relationship with the PSOE – to which the PSC is federated – and distancing itself from giving an explicit support to Catalonia’s right to self-determination. Catalan Socialists are facing important internal tensions due to this issue, including tensions with the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) that threatened to break their alliance. Many angry voices from the PSOE had requested to break up with the PSC and to run separately in Catalonia. PSOE and PSC merged in Catalonia in 1977 and formed the current PSC. It seems that running separately is now ruled out, as suggested by at the PSOE’s Political Conference held 8 days ago and the attendees’ emphasis on their close link with the PSC.

The PSC’s leadership has chosen to get closer to the PSOE at the price to eliminate internal criticism. Before the Catalan Parliament’s vote scheduled on the 4th of December, Navarro announced the PSC would oppose demanding the Spanish authorities to devolve powers in order to organise a self-determination referendum, following Article 150.2 of the Constitution. Navarro argues that the Spanish Government is completely opposed to transfer such powers and therefore the petition will be rejected in Madrid. Navarro states the PSC should not participate in “a failure”. On the contrary, PSC MPs such as Joan Ignasi Elena, Marina Geli or Angel Ros who disagree with the party’s latest decision state that the the party cannot abandon a stance shared by a wide majority of Catalans. According to many polls, around 80% of Catalans support the organisation of a self-determination vote.

Before last weekend’s ‘National Council’, the critical MPs and the party leadership tried to find a compromise solution, but none of them was willing to give up. Finally, despite last-minute negotiations held on Sunday morning, no common ground was found. Two proposals were brought to the National Council to be voted on: that of Navarro and that of the critical MPs. Navarro gave a tough speech, asking for “unity in transcendent issues”, such as Catalonia’s self-determination. He managed to impose his views at the meeting, but it does not seem he managed to put an end to the internal quarrel.

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  • The PSC's Secretary General, Pere Navarro, at last Sunday's National Council (by M. Belmez)

  • The PSC's Secretary General, Pere Navarro, at last Sunday's National Council (by M. Belmez)